Who Needs Storecards?
I remember reading Pine and Gilmore's "Welcome to the Experience Economy" in a Harvard Business Review in 1999 and thinking how does this relate to the real world. They seemed to me to be focussing on retail as entertainment which I thought was an idea of limited scope and in later years while wondering at the spectacle of Nike Town yet wandering out in reaction to the incredible delay in getting served, I was not convinced to change my opinion. Clearly design is crucial to the customer's experience, be it product design or envirionment design but I struggled to to identify a real world mainstream application for their idea. Today I came across one potentially significant one.
In a piece in February's Harvard Business Review entitled Unstick Your Customers, David Weinberger of Cluetrain fame considers why physical stores are designed to "trap" customers and asks "what if physical stores mirrored the Web's best practice for making information easily and always accessible? Customers would get out quickly with exactly what they needed, never forced to double back for forgotten items. The result would be increased loyalty."
We've all seen articles and programming extolling the amazing science of the retail sector, the tracking of consumer paths and the strategic placing of inviting products, artificial aromas and cunning lighting. Yet, as customers, we've all cursed the distant location of the staple products we popped into buy. Why not make it easy for the customer to do what they want? It's the basis of any good marketing. Do that and then who needs storecards?