Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

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?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, you are correct to a fault!
Your perspective about striving for efficiency in physical stores mimicking the efficiency of (some) we sites is true for functional shopping, where the customer needs something specific: OEM head gasket for 1969 Corvette.
However most of consumer shopping is equivalent to entertainment. Proof: the notion of “shopping” as in going to a mall etc… does not translate very well in any foreign language! Often times consumers evaluate whether go to a movie or go to the mall, where going to the mall will result in a purchasing experience, impulse, see-need (you see, you need), and even major shopping: plasma TV, internet refrigerator, dyson vacuum.

Therefore, will it be a disservice to its audience if a store would all in a sudden become efficient? After all consumer buy what they want, not what they need.

Have you ever gone out because you needed to buy one thing, just to come back home having purchased a few items but NOT what prompted your mission?

Signed: The Devil with a few causes

7:34 AM, April 14, 2006  
Blogger Michael Daehn said...

Thought provoking!

PS- They may have other locations, but the NIKETOWN in Costa Mesa, CA by my house closed. It was an interesting place to visit and take out of town relatives, but we never bought anything.

10:52 AM, April 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI: Noted article is in the Feb '06 HBR, not March

It's part of the collection "The HBR List: Breakthrough Ideas for 2006"

8:57 PM, April 18, 2006  
Blogger john dodds said...

Thanks JG, I'm based in London and it's the most recen copy in my local business school library so i wrongly assumed it was March.

2:38 PM, April 19, 2006  

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