The holiday shopping season comes with the same great anticipation every year…so, what are you going to do differently this year?
In our work with various companies, we sometimes have them complete an exercise to capture "stereotypes" of various industries, including retail. Interestingly, regardless of the audience, we see similar expectations about the service experience in the typical retail establishment.
There certainly are retail establishments who do things differently from what we see on this poster and they are fairly successful!
Walt Disney once said, “When I started on Disneyland, my wife used to say, But why do you want to build an amusement park? Theyre so dirty. I told her that was just the point—mine wouldnt be.” What Walt knew intuitively was that he needed to differentiate. He knew that significant service differentiation only occurs when an individual organization ruptures a widely held industry stereotype.
Certainly online shopping will continue to play a significant and growing role in the industry, but dont forget that "going shopping" is still a very human experience for many of us.
What does Disney do, and what can organizations do, to differentiate the in-store shopping experience for customers this season? Here are three tips:
1. Do the extra, perhaps seemingly insignificant, things that might surprise someone. Here’s just one example – If a customer asks where they might get some water, walk them to where the water is and fill a cup for them.
2. Use technology to enable a friendly and helpful shopping experience. With what we referred to as Project MATER (Mastering All The Elements of Retailing), we implemented the use of iPads so that Cast Members could help Guests find specific merchandise from anywhere in the park, or even other parks. This effort also paid off with increased Cast Member efficiency and dramatically higher Guest satisfaction.
The success of Project MATER was so evident that it was selected as one of six projects worldwide to be finalists in the World Retail Congress Award in the Business Innovation category.
3. Use interactions to build relationships. Remember, for a large number of consumers around the world, going shopping is a leisure activity; a way of relaxing; a source of entertainment; or even a chance to meet up with friends and share experiences.
At Disney we know that great service means treating people as VIPs: Very Individual Persons, which means listening to my likes and needs, offering suggestions, or bringing me items without being asked. Regardless of how busy it is, by coming to our store, we now have more time to spend with our invited Guests and in that time wed like to have them become cherished friends.
How will you differentiate your service experience from everyone else this holiday season? The success of the next shopping season and the one after it may depend on your answer.