Presenting clients with a custom experience can take retail businesses to the next level in a highly competitive market.
In the retail industry, “The customer is always right” has long been the motto. This drive to please consumers means businesses are constantly in search of new and inventive ways to make them happy. But where do they start? What does the general public look for when making a purchase? And what is everyone talking about when they say the new-age consumer is looking for an “experience”?
The retail experience means something different to each business, depending on its target market, says Elle Hill, CEO of fine-jewelry launch and growth experts Hill & Co.
“Customers’ buying-experience requirements and expectations vary widely, from wanting a rapid navigation and checkout process online, to enjoying a luxurious in-store experience sipping champagne and trying on pieces,” she notes. “The key is knowing who you are, who your ideal consumer is, and how you marry what you deliver to their expectation.”
Many jewelry retailers have made the effort to rework their consumer offerings, whether by creating an in-store experience to set themselves apart, or giving the client a say in the creation of her jewelry.
Macy’s will spend over $200 million on renovating 50 of its locations to offer customers a more personalized and well-rounded experience. The department store has even placed a Starbucks inside its branches to accommodate shoppers. In an effort to cater to all target markets, Macy’s has also added lab-grown diamonds to its jewelry division.
Meanwhile, Saks Fifth Avenue began a $250 million redesign on its flagship store in May, to transform it from a traditional department store into an experience-driven location. “The Vault” is a full-floor, luxuriously appointed space completely dedicated to high-end jewelry, providing customers with hands-on, custom consultations and a rotation of limited-edition designs. The exclusive section gives consumers “a more private, secure location for making very expensive purchases,” Saks says.
A year ago, luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co. hired CEO Alessandro Bogliolo to steer it toward innovation and an experiential approach. Bogliolo believes “meaningful innovation” strengthens the connection between customer and brand. Under his management, Tiffany has reinvigorated its image, launching ad campaigns targeting different generations of consumers and featuring popular young stars.
The jeweler has also created a completely new engagement ring collection, Tiffany True, which enables customers to choose from various settings and stones. The line will be available at Tiffany stores, including its famous New York flagship, which is in the process of an innovative redesign that will “create a dramatic new experience for customers,” the company says.
Other retailers are concentrating on product reinvention in an effort to connect with customers, a move Hill believes is imperative.
“Customization and personalization are what make the consumer feel like they can purchase a product that is a more clear representation of themselves,” she says. “This can be as broad as a good, better, best product that addresses different price points, or more specific, as in engraving,