retail tensions

brand-as-business bit:  There’s been a lot of reporting on the rankings from Interbrand’s Best Retail Brands 2012 report — but I’ve been spending more time on the consultancy’s commentary that’s sprinkled throughout the report.

The comments have made me aware of the tensions that now define retail:

  • efficiency vs. responsiveness – “Now that consumers decide how, when and where to interact, the only location for retail is where the customers are…Responsiveness now trumps efficiency. When a brand is responsive to its shoppers’ behaviors and expectations, it adds value to its goods and services.”  I don’t disagree – but retailers still need to exceed at efficiency if they want to maintain profitability.
  • accessibility vs. exclusivity – “Now that retail has the ability to be accessible to everyone everywhere, some clever brands have worked the reverse of the trend to their advantage. Exclusivity can still be counted on to generate excitement, convey status and stroke the shopper’s ego.”  I suppose the opportunity is to be accessible only to those customers you want.
  • digital advancements vs. simple solutions – “Technology enables and encourages personal connections [but] today’s customers gravitate toward simple solutions and more efficient shopping. In that respect, most retailers still have unrealized opportunity to delight their customers apart from digital channels. Improved customer service, easier merchandise returns and a reduction in out of stocks, which still reach up to ten percent in stores on average, could have far more relevance.”  I just wrote about this the other day — see “would you like a coffee with that wi-fi?

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