How Retail Stores Commit Suicide

People are shopping online now more than in stores. What does that mean for retail?

Shoppers are willing to wait a few days for their purchase in exchange for convenience. But is it really about convenience? I suggest we need to reframe convenience into what the desired customer experience is.

The over-whelming majority of my shopping is done online. I buy my groceries online. I order clothes, shoes, books, and gifts online. If I have to stand in line to pay for clothes, I look up the item online. If I can buy it online before I move in the lineup, I do, and drop the items on the shelf. Most recently, if the store staff become overwhelmingly pushy, I leave and shop online.

In each of those circumstances, I am choosing online shopping for different reasons. If the physical stores understood the desired customer experience, they would get my repeat business and loyalty.

Forbes predicts: “Physical retail will be less about facilitating the pickup of a product and more about providing unique experiences. Frank shared an example where you imagine yourself as a customer walking into a Nordstrom and using augmented reality to try on clothing in a virtual representation of the wedding you’re attending next week. Retailers will win by knowing their customers better than their competitors and providing differentiated experiences. The key, however, will be making the experience so immersive that the customer wants to come back, instead of just a ‘cool’, novel feature that is only tried once.”

How retailers are committing suicide is by believing they know and can impose the right experience on the customer. For example, shopping for scented candles or scented oils is an in store experience. You have me because I want to try the scents, experience how they could be part of my home. I am not going to go online unless it is to reorder something I already have. I am coming into your store with a vision in my head of how I want that experience to go. It will be relaxing. It will be creative. It definitely will be ruined if you follow me around the store and constantly ask me if you can help me, if I’ve heard what the specials are, and if I need a bag. Once I have picked up the product and I am heading to the til to pay, do not use this as an opportunity to continue telling me the features of the product. Once the deal is done, stop selling. While those are all wonderful offers of help and customer service, they have nothing to do with the reason I am there. In fact, they are deliberately interfering with why I’m there.

Retailers need to understand two eternal rules: know your customer and what they want. And the customer is always right.

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5 Things I Wish Holistic Business Owners Did Better

Nearly every holistic practitioner I know either lives at the poverty line or requires a second earner (spouse, roommate, family member, etc.) to live independently. Quite often, they teach about manifesting abundance. Or they renounce capitalism while also complaining about the poor attendance at their workshop, class, or community event. 

Here is what I wish you knew:

1. You are a business.

If you are offering something in exchange for energy (money, food, lodging, etc) and you are dependent on this exchange to live, then you are running a business. It doesn’t matter if you are a yoga instructor, teach a healing modality, or access the Akashic records – you are running a business. 

2. You should learn how to run a business.

Even if you are the only person in your business, you should learn a few fundamentals. You need to understand social marketing, market segmentation, who attends your business, how to build and manage a budget, how to grow a business, financial record keeping and allowable expenses and tax deductions.

3. Posting events all over Facebook is not enough 

Social marketing is powerful. Knowing how to use Facebook advertising can get you exposed to people who may not know you. But passive event posting will not get you the numbers you want. It might be ok for low cost or free introductory sessions but you will not sell out a $1000 per person retreat or an 8 week workshop series this way. A deeper commitment from your market requires a long term business model. Most holistic practitioners think in one-off interactions instead of how to build a stable revenue model. 

4. Learning about business IS manifesting abundance

The law of attraction says you need to be energetically in alignment with your intent. If your vision is about a stable personal income, you need to know enough to be energetically aligned with a stable source or sources of income.

5. Your market probably wants you to be in a business partnership

The most successful holistic businesses today are established practices with unique add ons. You are probably the add on. The profitable businesses are covered by insurance: naturopath, yoga (sometimes), massage therapy, chiropractor, etc. These businesses can access a stable market and often co-locate with other practitioners to have offices, community presence, and workshop space. They then rent to you as an add on, so they make more money. 

Or someone runs a festival and invites you to run a session, promising you exposure and maybe a small fee. They are charging for registration, sponsors and sellers. They will walk away with 5 digit earnings and you probably made $200 or less. 

If you partnered, what could you do? 

I am so frustrated by these things I am thinking of running small workshops and coaching for people who see this in their own pattern. If you are interested, let me know. (So I can understand my market!)