Store refit a clever tactic in tough times

February 23, 2015 at 4:12 PM

During the recession, retailers tried different strategies to encourage customers to shop with them. Interestingly, one of the most successful tactics was to enhance the overall in-store customer experience. This meant revamping the interior look of stores and making it easier for customers to buy there.


Hallensteins Glasson Holding Ltd was one such company that decided to be proactive during the recession. At the time, CEO Graeme Popplewell said: “Sitting back and hoping things will get better isn’t the right thing to do…our focus is to understand our customer better than our competitors and to deliver a superior product and in-store experience.” Popplewell led the charge by having the Glassons store on Queen St refitted into a welcoming and sleek interior. Sales noticeably improved despite the recession.


Although it may have seemed daring to spend money refurbishing the Queen St Glassons store at that time, in actual fact it wasn’t. Many other stores took the opportunity to enhance their in-store experiences too, with positive results. Refurbishing shops to make them appear more welcoming helped to increase revenue, as did closing the gap between online and in-store experiences.


Screen_shot_2015-02-23_at_4.24.37_PM.pngNowadays, closing the gap between online and in-store experiences may mean allowing your customers to scan an item, and pay for it with a series of taps on their smartphone. Or it could mean letting your customers purchase items online first and then pick them up in-store so that they can inspect them before they take them home.


You may be surprised to learn what didn’t work. Many retailers assumed that by cutting prices drastically, customers would be more likely make purchases with them (after all, they were in the middle of a recession). However, this only worked successfully when a company was already perceived to be one of the cheapest suppliers in the market, and that the cut-rate prices aligned with their values.


Brick and mortar retailers, in particular, are far less likely to be able to compete on price. Internet prices are usually cheaper, and customers are savvy – they know this already. Where retailers can compete is by differentiating themselves not as the cheapest, but for the enjoyable shopping experience that they provide.