If you’ve not come across Simon Sinek yet I urge you to rectify this without delay. Apart from being an inspirational speaker (see TED talks) he has written a book from which I’ve taken as the title for this blog: Start With Why.
Put simply the premise being that those who understand their Why cannot only be better leaders but better organisations; those are the ones who inspire us, who engage with us on an emotional level. They are the ones who interact with us in a completely different way, a way which motivates us to action, to want to connect – they make us feel differently.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” Simon Sinek
Think about that statement for a moment and then think about it in the context of retail:
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”
Why do some retail brands command more customer loyalty than others? Price, product etc notwithstanding because these days it should be a given that these are in place and meet the expectations of the consumer. With competition for a seemingly ever decreasing share of our spending becoming more and more intense, how do some retailers manage to succeed where others do not?
I will leave you to discover more about Why in your own time but it is an intriguing thought when we look at the state of the High Street today. We probably all have our preferred or favoured brands with which we consent to do business with – to grant them our loyalty and custom. Apple computers is a good example; they make great computers right? Well, it just so happens that they make computers but for most of us when we think of Apple, computers in themselves don’t immediately spring to mind. We think of tactile, friendly, easy to use phones, tablets etc which have now become an intrinsic part of our lives. And it gets better.
Social media, convenient, personalisation, mobility, in-store experience – these are all key trends in retail which are evolving at an unbelievable speed. Never before has the rate of change we are now witnessing been so rapid. The third screen is now the new normal and this is having a profound and fundamental impact on not only how retailers must think and behave but more importantly on our own expectations of how we wish to engage and therefore be engaged with our preferred brands. It is completely turning on its head the traditional model of a parent child relationship which retailers have enjoyed with their customers for so many years.
Think of your most recent transaction; was it personalised? Was it convenient? Did it meet all your expectations for customer service? Was it a good experience? And most importantly would you wish to go back there whether it be online or in-store? Increasingly we are demanding more and more and this is challenging the traditional retail model. This is an incredibly stimulating and exciting time and best of breed retail has never been so good. From smart mirrors to augmented reality to smartphone apps which will let the consumer know which store staff are working at any particular time, the game is changing.
As retailers are liberated from the shackles of long term leases we will see more and more optimise their store estates to align them with their online business. Typically this will mean less stores but in more favoured locations and the slimmer store estate will need to be sleek and capable of delivering amazing customer experience. Some will be showrooms only and carry zero stock – literally shop fronts for the brand. Store staff will become ever more skilled and experienced so that more and more assisted sales drive conversion and net promoter scores.
And through all of this the consumer will increasingly be expecting some sort of relationship with their brands. Something which is fulfilling, fun, exciting and inspiring. Those who know their Why will ultimately be best placed to succeed again and again and again. They will be the ones who believe in what they do, believe in the very essence of the brand, believe in the value they deliver to their customers. They will understand and believe in the very reason why they exist.
Let’s start with why.