Place—Service

We have seen in previous chapters the importance of brand, product and price in the purchasing decision making process. Since it is an important decision, and not always urgent, a customer will also consider where to buy and from who. We group this under the motivation called place.

This is where the magic happens: the place (Chart 4.5).

Chart 4.5 Retail: the right place for seduction

Customers Still Need A Retail Space

In the age of the internet and e-commerce, why do we still need a boutique, a place to meet? We actually probably don’t need to go to a retail store, but want a better experience. The information is now available online. Paul Mason does not need to go to his car dealer’s showroom to know about the latest launch, the new models, the options and prices, the available colors. He can easily pre-select and see all this information online. He could and probably did already check online articles from automobile magazines and blogs, and also the different comments from users and other car lovers.

A place is still relevant today, and I believe it will be tomorrow; it is something necessary for comfortably taking a final purchase decision. Paul, in spite of the 3D presentation offered by the car manufacturer’s website, cannot get a complete sense of the real dimensions. He needs to sit in the car, to be able to fully appreciate the space and the comfort. He needs to drive it. He needs to check and double-check before making his final decision.

Customers’ needs are different when they visit you. Some prefer to get information from the store, not being comfortable online (not familiar with using online portals). Others are fully prepared and informed, having done their initial research online, and come with questions and doubts and want to get confirmation and answers.

Taking the example of buying a car: Paul might have gone through different stages in his decision making process. Since this was an important decision, he might have been to the car showroom four times before finally making his decision (Table 4.7.A):

Lisa was browsing in the Luxury shopping mall on a Friday afternoon. She left the office an hour early and wanted to give herself the pleasure of browsing in small shops. When she decided to enter the Italian leather goods store, it was definitely just to have a look, especially at that handbag she had seen.

Lucy: “Good afternoon Madame.”

Lisa: “Good afternoon.”

Lucy: “Welcome to B.. .the store is yours and I will be very pleased to assist you anytime.”

Lucy: “Thank you.” (Lisa was pleased—she hates “sticky” sales associates.)

Table 4.7.A Attitude to adopt per stage

Objective

Customer

Sales Advisor

Initial

Interest

Customer has a need and starts to look, without a clear idea yet. The need and desire is there but not clearly identified.

SA has to understand the need, even help the customer to better understand their own need. Less focus on product presentation but behave more like a knowledgeable friend.

First

Search

Customer starts to browse. He is able to give a few ideas he has in mind. Still not really clear about a specific brand, product type or precise budget.

SA has to help in presenting the market, showing which brands and products are available. There is no worry that the customer would prefer another brand; this is the customer's choice anyway. The objective is to have the brand in the customer's preferred short-list.

Product

Selection

Customer has few products in mind and is now comparing. Customer is now aware of brand, product type, budget. Timing is still flexible.

SA is there to further present and convince about the product and close the sale as soon as possible. It is always possible to close when the customer already has a selected product in mind.

Final

Decision

Customer is now sure of the product and only comes to confirm their choice. Time frame is set.

SA has to reassure, confirm and congratulate the customer on their choice. There are still a few doubts but they are more concerned with after sales service, return policy and so forth. SA has to close in a very nice way.

Lucy: “Madame, you are definitely looking at the most iconic choice

of the moment. Please let me present our handbag to you.” Lisa: “Don’t worry, I’ll just browse first.”

Lucy: “Sure Madame. I will prepare two handbags of different sizes for you to take a look at. You are so well dressed and so elegant—I really would love to have your comments!”

Lisa: “Thank you! So this is the handbag in the magazines, right?”

Lucy: “Absolutely.”

Before paying for their purchase with their credit card, customers vote first with their feet. A customer coming into a retail space is never merely “just looking” or “just browsing.” There is already a level of intention. Some desire must be there, whether it is clear or not.

Manager's Corner

In the multi-channel distribution environment, list with the team why customers will buy at your store or come to your office instead of going through other channels, including online.

 
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