Make Convenience Irrelevant: "Location, location, location" takes a back seat
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Make Convenience Irrelevant: "Location, location, location" takes a back seat

Make Convenience Irrelevant:

The phrase “location, location, location” has always been the number one strategy of brick-and-mortar brands. A great location was regarded as an area with heavy foot traffic, complimentary attractive businesses (Apple, Starbucks), easy accessibility, and the right demographic for your brand. 

Today, the right location isn’t as important as the experience your brand consistently delivers. Plenty of businesses opened up in prime shopping centers but were poor at customer service and eventually closed. More than 80% of consumers surveyed says the experiences a company provides are as important as its products.

A motto of The DiJulius Group is to help companies “Make Price Irrelevant.” We define it this way: Based on the experience your brand consistently delivers, your customers have no idea what your competition charges.

The same can be said for “Make Convenience Irrelevant.” Think about your favorite restaurant, clothing store, dry cleaner, or café. I bet most of your favorite places are not the most convenient. Oftentimes, we drive past numerous competitors to get to the retailer of our choice because we prefer them and are willing to put in more effort to give them our business.

The first business I opened 31 years ago was John Robert’s Spa, a chain of upscale salons and spas in Northeast Ohio. John Robert’s has been selected as one of the top 20 salons in the U.S. multiple times. None of our locations are in prime real estate shopping centers. Our top-performing salon is located in Solon, Ohio. Solon is a great city; however, our salon is hidden off a side street that is difficult to access from the main road.

The salon is in an old and unattractive strip center. Other tenants go in and out of business regularly. We get guest complaints weekly about the inconvenience of the location. Yet, since 2001, the Solon location provides the most revenue per square foot and has been our most profitable unit.

For more than 30 years, the strip mall has had at least half a dozen restaurants open and close, including well-known national brands and some mom and pops. Nothing has ever lasted in that location. That changed about 10 years ago when Chick-fil-A opened. Now, a line of cars tries to get in and out of Chick-fil-A. It is one of Chick-fil-A’s top-performing restaurants.

Retail renaissance

Because more and more brick-and-mortar brands are realizing the importance of the experience, retail is coming back. 

A Fast Company article, “Brick-and-Mortar Retail is Back but Without the Gimmicks,” demonstrates how a decade ago, the “retail apocalypse” was in full swing with thousands of stores closing annually as consumer behavior shifted toward online shopping. Brands were forced to create engaging in-store experiences to attract customers back to physical locations. After the pandemic, consumers have been eager to return to in-person shopping, resulting in more than 16,000 new store openings in the past two years. Retail sales soared to $6.18 trillion last year, marking an 11% increase from the previous year.

As the retail sector rebounds, brands are shifting their focus from merely providing entertainment to delivering personalized customer service that leaves a lasting impression. For instance, Todd Snyder offers in-store tailoring services with a glass of Scotch. Orvis invites customers to participate in complimentary fly-fishing lessons in local waters, enhancing their ability to use new fishing equipment.

These enhanced customer experiences hark back to the traditional, personal touch that shopkeepers previously used to cultivate relationships. In today’s digital age, such personalized, face-to-face interactions are perceived as unique.

The store experience

Todd Snyder and Orvis aren’t the only retailers using experiences to draw customers to their physical locations. Casper offers nap pods for daytime rest, Vans built a skate park inside its London store, and brands ranging from Glossier to Perrier designed visually stunning pop-ups to serve as perfect settings for Instagram photos. Converse has expanded its customization service, so customers can design a pair of sneakers entirely from scratch, selecting the shape, material, and shoelaces. The shoes are then assembled into the final product on the spot.

A Newsweek article, “What Consumers Expect from In-Store Experiences in 2024 and Beyond,” revealed customers expect frictionless shopping experiences bolstered by great customer service and technology. In a report from McKinsey, 71% of consumers expect businesses to understand and cater to their individual interests, and 76% of consumers said they get frustrated when companies fail to do so.

Retailers are attracting and keeping customers by marrying the digital with the in-store experience. Self-service kiosks, digital menus, and self-checkout systems are becoming increasingly common. Through augmented reality and smart labels, retailers can offer interactive product demonstrations or engage customers with in-store treasure hunts. Moreover, virtual reality can deliver comprehensive virtual try-on sessions or immersive product testing experiences, enhancing the overall shopping journey.

Retailers are creating unparalleled in-store experiences that go beyond what’s available online by offering personalized shopping options. Technology is at the heart of this customization, allowing retailers to utilize customer data and analytics to present individualized content through interactive displays. It’s all part of the retail renaissance.

John DiJulius III, author of The Customer Service Revolution, is president of The DiJulius Group, a customer service consulting firm that works with companies, such as Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Ritz-Carlton, Nestle, PwC, Lexus, and many more. Contact him at 216-839-1430 or info@thedijuliusgroup.com.

Published: June 28th, 2024

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