In Trends

Five best practices every retailer needs to borrow

Taking example on Warby Parker, the innovative U.S. eyeware company started six years ago by four Wharton B-school students, and which has grown from 0 to 30 stores in six years, here are five practices that nearly every retail business can benefit from emulating and applying within its own context.

1. Get your entrance experience right, especially the human element of the entrance experience.

At Warby Parker, a greeter–an “anchor” in Warbyspeak–greets you right as you cross the threshold of the store. This anchor is a salesperson who has, for now, been assigned to this greeting role; the position rotates throughout the day. The anchor’s job is to make each customer feel comfortable entering Warby Parker and to get them to where they need to go, quickly and companionably. And, because this anchor is actually a fully-trained salesperson, if what the customer needs (or can be enticed to need) is a new pair of frames and lenses, the anchor can make the sale then and there.

Beginnings and endings are crucial moments in the customer journey because of how they lodge themselves in a customer’s memory. Plus, in a retail context like this, if there isn’t a warm welcome, there may never be a customer journey.

2. Design your customer experience with the customer in mind (rather than letting marketing or merchandising considerations override what’s best for the customer). 

Warby Parker stores have a “mirrored layout,” where every frame that is displayed on the left wall is also displayed on the right, a concept that results in sacrificing close to 50% of the store’s prime, eye-level rackspace. In other words, if a style of glasses is displayed and offered as a try-on midway down the left wall, that style of glasses is also displayed midway down the right wall. This keeps customers from having to jostle with each other to look at or try on a particular pair of frames. While this is obviously true customer-focused customer experience design, you can imagine the initial conversations that must have taken place at Warby Parker over “wasted” rackspace.

3. Hire personable associates to work with your customers–and train them to do it right.

The Warby Parker sales associates are engaging, authentically personable employees, good with eye contact, skilled at matching customer pacing, and ready turn on a dime in response to expressed or perceived customer preferences. Not incidentally, these associates are very effective at making a sale and doing other essential marketing and sales-related activities–harvesting a customer’s email address without sounding like the NSA, for example–needed to build a sustainably profitable business.

How did these sales associates get that way? Well, they’ve been appropriately selected (hired) for their positions, they’ve been carefully trained, and they work in a setting that is  filled with other high performers, who exert the happy phenomenon of positive peer pressure on one another.

4. Use technology to streamline the customer experience, rather than letting it overwhelm it.

The most important use of customer-visible technology at Warby Parker is to streamline the purchasing process. Every sales associate not only carries a tablet, but is lightning-fast at using it as a POS (point of sale) device. Being rung up for a sale this way is so unobtrusive for the customer that you almost don’t know that it happened, until you walk out the store with your oh-so-hip pseudo-hand stitched Warby Parker bag in your hand. And the only other visible use of technology in the store is for the customer’s benefit, not the brand’s: the large, easy-to-read (that makes sense at an optician’s, right?) digital board letting customers know when their eye exam appointments are.

5. Avoid letting money break the enchantment of the customer experience. 

For a store with a revolutionary pricing model, Warby never lets money break the enchantment of the customer experience. Prices are posted in small but readable type. They’re quoted in round numbers ($95, not $99.99) The return and exchange program is admirable, and reduces the money-related tension of a purchase (30 days to return or exchange, a year to scratch them and still get them replaced.) Shelf space is “wasted” (again) on books and other slower-moving but attractive items in a way that further suggests that this enterprise is about more than money.

(Source: Forbes )

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