By Jim and Rick Penn

Old retail strategy: Build it and they will come. Find a location, stock it with quality product, customers make a purchase. Not anymore.

It’s not enough to just satisfy your customers. In today’s retail environment, average is over. Customers want to be immersed in something memorable, fun and share-worthy. They want an experience, a seamless blend of lifestyle, culture, technology, service, convenience, and unique product. For them, it’s all or nothing.

Customers have so many choices, it’s more important than ever to give them an experience from every angle. So what does it mean to offer your customers an exceptional experience?

Consider how your customer interacts with your businesses and cultivate an experience at every level.

Service and expertise

This is the basis, and arguably the most important aspect of ensuring an exceptional experience. Be attentive to your customers’ needs and sensitive to their personal preferences. Excellent service makes your customers feel important, which is an experience in itself.

Lifestyle

It’s everything from the atmosphere they’re immersed in when they interact with your business, to aligning with your customers’ values. Cultivate a lifestyle that’s unique to your brand and express that lifestyle everywhere you communicate with your customers. This creates an experience that transports them to a destination distinctly different from what they find at home or at another business nearby. What other interests do your customers have, and how can you incorporate that into their experience with you?

Quality and authenticity

Customers want to feel confident in what they’re purchasing, and that comes down to materials, backstory, and authenticity. Products have stories that need to be told, and when that story aligns with your customers’ values, it creates an experience for them. Communicate that story with your customers and take them on that experience.

Communication

It’s impossible to properly service your customer without great communication. This is your opportunity to take care of their needs or questions, and do to so at various touch points. Ease of communication in store is important of course, but also when your customer is at home or on the go. Great communication builds trust as well as a relationship with your customer, and enhances their experience through ease, convenience, and confidence.

Technology

It’s just one of the ways to stay relevant with the up-and-coming millennial generation. Technology is fun, it’s innovative, and it’s intuitive to today’s consumers. Use technology in a way that adds value to your customers. Maybe it’s through new methods of communication, maybe it’s software that adds convenience, or maybe it’s media that can give the customer a deeper understanding of a product or brand. Technology allows for new ways for your customers to interact with your business, enabling them to experience it from a new perspective.

Creativity

Consumers want to have fun. How creative can you get to give them a fun and unique experience? What can you provide that they haven’t seen before or can’t get anywhere else? What are their interests, and how can you tap into those interests with a creative in-store or online experience? Events or demonstrations are just one idea, but the sky is the limit. Retail has become so much more than just tangible products. The greatest innovation in retail today is the intangibles; the relationships, the experience, the values of your company. This isn’t the next big trend. It’s already here. Be up to the challenge and have fun with it!

Jim and Rick Penn are the owners of Puritan Cape Cod, with retail locations in Hyannis, Falmouth, Mashpee and Chatham. They can be reached at (800) 924-0606 or puritancapecod.com.

This article was published in the May 2017 issue of Cape & Plymouth Business.