Category "Customer experience"

The local garden centre has always been the place that the majority of Christmas shoppers traditionally visit to buy their tree.  With the good news that choosing a real tree that has been locally sourced causes much less environmental impact than a fake one, garden centres nationwide will be bracing themselves for a very busy few weeks ahead. Looking around the modern garden centre today, it’s clear that a lot has changed in terms of what now attracts shoppers through the door and how the centre has adapted and responded to customer needs. It’s not just about the Christmas tree anymore – it’s a whole lot more!

The garden centre vision

Garden centres have completely re-positioned themselves in the market and effectively on the high street with what they can offer over and above other competing retailers. Rather than being pigeonholed by offering a limited range of products purely for the plant enthusiast, garden centres have spent time considering how to attract the non-gardener through the door as well as increasing share of wallet with loyal customers. The result has seen the emergence of a new type of shopping experience that entices more customers for longer. What it offers is lifestyle. What it offers is simplicity. What it offers is a relative refuge from the busy high street making it easy to shop. Modern garden centres have even been described akin to churches as many find their Sunday solace and inspiration there.

 

Christmas plant display

Candy cane plant display

Christmas tree and cyclamen display

The star of the show

Poinsettias and cacti

A sea of poinsettias and cacti

 

 

It’s not just about the Christmas Tree

Stepping into Haskins Roundstones in Rustington West Sussex, a client of ours, (and a personal MUST visit, Christmas just isn’t Christmas without a trip to Haskins!) it is a visual feast. A riot of colour and light, immaculate plant displays as well as their stunning Christmas shop – their Winter Wonderland. Both indoor and outdoor displays equally impressive and of course, hundreds of Christmas trees all waiting for their new owners! But take a closer look – alongside everything you would need to decorate your home for the festive season there is outdoor clothing, cards, glassware, tableware, ceramics, kitchen gadgets, novelty items, gifts and homewares even indoor furniture as well as specialty food and drink. Whilst you shop you can also take a break with either a coffee and a pastry or a traditional roast dinner! The garden centre has become a place to relax, to take time as well as inspiration for the home – all under one roof! Has this become the sophisticated version of the ‘mall’? The garden centre has become a place that’s constantly innovating as well as reflecting and embracing the changing seasons, just as we do at home and in our own gardens.

If you would would like to know more about our partnerships with garden centers such as Dobbies, Notcutts, Squires and Blue Diamond – please get in touch below!





 

 

 

 

The arrival of Autumn brings with it the signal that retailers should be well on the way to preparing for the busiest quarter of the year. With the next day and even same day delivery culture driving the pace, retailers will be ensuring they have the resources in place to meet demand. The next 3 months are critical as it provides the best opportunity to make a huge impact on sales with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the run up to Christmas just around the corner.

2018 made for challenging trading conditions on the high street as online sales continue to take the lead. A staggering 87% of retail purchases have been made online so far this year (grocery shopping not included).  This is an increase of over 9% growth from 2017. Royal Mail attribute this increase to consumers consistently pursuing value for money – i.e the cheapest price for the product they want. Retailers need to ensure they are agile enough to respond to this ever changing landscape and buying behaviour and ready to meet demand. So the question is – are you peak season ready? Are you aligned to seize opportunities and make the most of the final quarter in 2018?

Get Peak Season Ready!

One challenge at this time of year for retailers supporting an omni-channel approach amid the rush to get orders out, is ensuring the protective packaging strategy is in place. Keeping customer returns due to damaged deliveries to a minimum during this window of opportunity is crucial. Getting this wrong results in an impact on resource across the whole logistics operation resulting in re-processing and increased despatch costs when goods have to be replaced. Tying up staff at this this busy time of year with additional and needless processing can also have a knock on effect on other existing orders, resulting in potentially late deliveries.

Whether the operation involves a click and collect service in-store or direct delivery – the logistical costs pale into insignificance compared to the cost of reputational and brand damage with disappointed customers.

Things to think about right now!

  1. Work with a packaging expert who can advise you on the best packaging solutions for your products. They will understand what it takes to get your product through the rigors of shipping, arriving unscathed using the most cost effective materials. There are time and cost savings to be had here when you work with a trusted industry expert.
  2. Worst case scenario planning can keep you head and shoulders above competitors. Share with your customers your plans where you can and invite feedback. Build this into your planning and feel confident in your resulting solutions.
  3. Automate where you can – a great deal of your protective packaging and strapping processes can be automated, allowing you to choose from various eco – friendly options. Any part of the packing process can be automated, allowing you to free up valuable resource. Again, your trusted packaging partner can advise on the very best solutions for your needs.

If you need support in ensuring your products arrive in pristine condition, get in touch with our friendly team who can offer a free and no obligation review so you can get the very best returns this festive season!





Offering a seamless shopping experience and cohesive brand interaction at every possible customer touchpoint is every retailer’s dream. To have that consistency and predictability built-in, regardless of channel, creates a truly connected retail experience. When consumers are dictating how and when they prefer to shop, retailers need to stay ahead to not only anticipate but to delight with clever enhancements to their offer. Bringing Clicks and Bricks together to compliment, support and drive growth is the key.

If we take Apple and look at their holistic approach to the customer experience, regardless of channel, the customer can rely on consistency and innovation. It’s all built around quick access to pertinent product information and faster ways to pay – convenience and delight at every opportunity.

Clicks to bricks – the next level

Clicks and bricks

Clicks and bricks

To create that seamless experience is one thing but how to drive growth by combining the strength of online and in-store with each providing support and adding value to the other. Over 61% of shoppers in a recent survey researched products online before going to the store to make a purchase. Online sales continue to grow, with nearly 30% of all sales being online, compared to just 21% in 2016. Shoppers will also use their phone in-store to research and share product information. Savvy retailers offer free wi-fi to allow consumers to connect. This all helps to enhance the shopping experience and ultimately encourage sales.

Offers that drive consumers to the store with redeemable vouchers supports consumer connection to their local store and having the online functionality to select click and collect in-store for free and next day again locks in a positive brand experience.

All change!

Charity shops are also understanding the power behind a multi-channel presence with their own online stores or ebay accounts. This could be a mixture of donated and all brand products, with some specialising in popular vintage products. Sue Ryder is a great example of a charity that have embraced this opportunity and extended the reach of their brand and connected with a new demographic.

Creating brand stand-out in today’s hectic retail space with high street brands such as Next finally being able to consolidate pan-channel.

Which brands do you feel have achieved this cohesive presence and who do you think is struggling to keep up?

 

 

 

Loyalty schemes are seeing something of a renascence with 64% of brands reporting an increase in memberships over the past year. A lot has to do with the fact that schemes are certainly a lot more sophisticated than they used to be. As more and more retailers understand that the retail landscape is changing and move towards a more omnichannel model, programs can record every customer interaction with their brand, building better profiles to enable greater insights than ever possible before. This allows for more personal marketing to effectively lock-in customer loyalty.

We take a look at how the traditional image and offering of the ‘reward scheme’ has changed and why customers are keen to embrace this like never before.

Personalisation 

Locking In Customer Loyalty

A trip to the shops

This is the main driver of acceptance of loyalty schemes and there is a distinct connection between being able to offer this and achieving customer satisfaction. Consumers want to feel like they are an individual, that they receive unique and bespoke offers based on their shopping preferences and buying habits. Being able to deliver these personal experiences with frequent seemingly tailored communications keeps customers engaged and anticipating the next brand ‘message’.

Connecting brands

Making the loyalty scheme even more compelling is where brands deliver in greater value to their customers when connecting with partners. This allows strategic partners to reach a new audiences and deliver something really unique to their customer base. It really helps to ‘extend’ the brand in the customer’s eyes with matched special offers.

 

 

Behaving responsibly

When 81% of millennial’s expect the brands they ‘adopt’ to go beyond just generating profit – they want to buy-in to the brand itself and are determined to hold them socially responsible. Almost 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services if the company is committed to reducing their environmental impact for example. Brands need to do more than simply say they stand for their core values, they need to be seen to living up to them. Creating brand ambassadors through an environment of responsible behaviour creates an emotional connection to the brand.

At Acopia, we have our very own Rewards Program where our customers can shop the big brands, choose from great team experiences or individual gifts and products. Ask your Account Director for more information on how to join our program.

 

Statistics from Marketing Land, Crowd Twist

Retail isn’t dying – it’s evolving! As consumers demand more than ever from their brands, and to be treated as an individual – retail has been playing catch up to a certain extent. The winners are those who can treat consumers like they value their time and their business, locking in loyalty. So what will be the top 3 retail trends for 2018.

Last year saw exciting growth for online retail with a growth increase of over 24% – but the great gains are to be made where retailers can create a seamless environment for both their online and offline enterprises. According to Google, 78% of all local searches on mobile result in a purchase instore within 24 hours. 10 years ago – the main challenge was to convince people to commit to purchasing online – now it’s all about how fast retailer’s can get purchases to their customers. How times have changed!

So what is going to be important for this year in retail?

Community

This will become the buzzword of 2018 and it’s about creating a strong sense of connection where common interests are shared, where advice can be sought and recommendations given. Retailers that can facilitate this environment will be able to secure impressive loyalty for the brand. Take Apple who took their outlets to the next level by creating community hubs that offer an immersive customer experience with access to developers so customers feel they are playing a role in the next generation of products. The famous Genius Bar is now the Genius Grove  – trees included! So it even looks like the local neighbourhood! Again – by providing access to leaning hubs or learning centres creates that all important  sense of belonging.

Personalisation

This was a hot trend in 2017 and the sense that a brand or retailer fully understands your pain points, tastes and needs is truly powerful. Companies like Netflix and Spotify provide personalised playlists for their customers based on previous purchases – and once the consumer is exposed to this level of ‘bespoke’ treatment, it becomes the expected norm, rather than the exception. Retailers need to get this right though!

In-Store Experience

In-Store experience

In-Store experience

Creating memorable in-store experiences is fast becoming the ultimate complement to the online platform. Retail space is no longer about a place for products, it is now all about entertainment and community. Experiential retailing is the emerging trend which demonstrates the clever combination of merchandising and hospitality/entertainment management. Providing the unexpected is key – and it needs to be fun, such as discovering a Pop Up Shop where it would be least expected much to the delight of local shoppers. Pottery Barn featured local artisans selling their products along side their own merchandise for a special event- all this keeps the consumer coming back for more in case they miss out on the next exciting in-store promotion or event.

Is it time to ring in the changes?

Enhancing your actual in-store environment, maintaining a contemporary look and remaining relevant will be key in 2018. Look at your lighting – could this work harder for you – setting the scene for a more relaxed buying environment for your retail space? Are your mannequins old fashioned? Are they putting people off coming in? Have your display stands seen better days? Are your display areas adaptable and portable allowing you to give the impression of change in-store? Have you considered your customer flow and does your store layout optimise every opportunity?

If all this sounds overwhelming, help is at hand! Acopia are experts in Space Planning, Project Management, Shop Fittings and Fit-Out. We have an incredible team who work with you every step of the way to achieve your vision. Let us help you transform your retail space and help create your very own ‘brand theatre’!

We all know that shopping and spending habits are changing and continue to evolve as consumers use the ever increasing options available to access products. Something that is a constant requirement however by most consumers, irrespective of where they purchase their products, is receiving a great customer experience. Retailers that can deliver this can unlock greater returns and lock-in customer loyalty. We take a look at customer habits and shopping trends and how a great customer experience can truly influence purchasing which is great news for retailers.

What is the shopping landscape now?

People are still much more likely to shop on the high-street than online. A recent survey showed that nearly six out of 10 (59%) of UK shoppers visit the high street once a week. In the last 90 days, 40% of respondents were more likely to have shopped on the high street compared to 30% of those who had shopped online.

How to energise the high street

Customer experience on the high streetOver half of consumers (53%) said lower prices and discounts would encourage them to the high street more often. However, the bigger picture reveals a need for greater convenience – easier and better parking, items being in stock and great customer service were the key areas shoppers are looking for to improve their whole shopping experience.

The influence of customer experience

Customer loyalty is a key driver of revenue. When 64% of UK shoppers are more likely to return to the high street after receiving great customer service,  retailers can not afford to leave this chance – or get this wrong. An enormous 70% of shoppers said that after receiving a terrible in-store experience meant that they no longer shopped there. The biggest issues were slow service, knowledgeable staff, difficulty in finding products and confusing store layouts.

 

Are you winning?

With so much at stake, it’s crucial that the in-store experience delivers a flawless experience. Whether it is access to knowledgeable staff, being able to navigate easily around a well planned store or finding products with ease  – it all adds up to winning that all important customer loyalty.

At Acopia, part of our service offer of turn key shop fit and installation examines the customer journey in store in terms of layout, areas for product focus, supporting retailers to maximise spend through clever use of product display ranges. If you would like to see what we can do for your retail estate, please get in touch with our friendly team.

 

Survey results by MarketForce Information

The British love affair with the high street is far from over – the relationship is just changing that’s all. Just like in all good relationships, needs and requirements change over time. In a recent survey, it was revealed that when a consumer wants to make an important purchase, two thirds would buy in-store rather than relying on buying online. So the future looks bright with over 81% of consumers stating they intended to visit the high street within the next 12 months in contrast of 60% that will do so online, providing the high street can continue to satisfy.

To keep the love affair alive, the high street needs to respond and anticipate. Remaining agile and ahead of the technology curve is one idea that could see shoppers coming back for more. 70% of shoppers want to see more in-store technology to improve the experience such as tablets, kiosks or touch screen devices. It showed that 60% of customers who used a tablet where provided went onto purchase the product they were considering – that’s a powerful conversion rate!

The survey also showed that shoppers are intolerant of queues – nothing new there – and 54% would like to see more Point Of Sale Options, especially in peak times.  The return on investment here is potentially huge with 53% of consumers stating they would pay higher prices for a better in-store experience! It’s enough to make a retail giant’s heart skip a beat!

Ian Gilmartin, Head of Retail & Wholesale at Barclays commented that “Our research reveals that the public still see the high street as an essential part of the shopping experience and as a national treasure they want to see protected”

Creating that immersive seamless experience means change. Giving shoppers an exceptional customer experience is high up on the list of wants such as more knowledgeable staff, more intuitive shop layouts and entertainment for the ‘non-shopping’ members of the family or group. It can mean taking a fresh look at the store layout, creating new spaces and using new display solutions for in-store technology hubs for example.

Acopia have been providing collaborative support for Retail for over 40 years – get in touch to find out how we can help you with new technology and innovative display solutions in-store.

 

 

 

Survey and statistics: Customer Experience Magazine – Bouncepad & Barclays

This week saw the much anticipated launch of the latest Apple products – delivered in another spectacular presentation of advanced features that leave competitors in their wake. Interestingly they might not always be first to market with the latest technology – Samsung have enjoyed domination with the Edge for many years – but now the Iphone X has landed with a responsive full screen, no home button and with 3D facial recognition – your face is now the password! The list of innovations is seemingly endless.  Bring on a new era of customer experience! Oh and the marketing? Sublime!

The Apple Watch that doesn’t need a phone

The latest edition of the Apple Watch Series 3 allows you to stay connected – without your phone! It’s a stunning step forward and with another upgrade to the exercise app, the Series 3 takes your workout partner to another level. Functionality to upload your workout playlists directly to your watch gives the wearer new freedom on an unprecedented scale.

The data that Apple has collected from all its users of their exercise app has been collated and analysed to help their customers even further. The data has allowed incredible improvements to the heart rate app so it can notify wearers if their heart begins to beat irregularly it will alert the user to possible health conditions. No other brand has taken their customer relationship to such a personal level.

Your new Community

Apple is the fastest growing retailer in history, engineering a ‘cult’ following as it continues to push the boundaries with technology and customer experience. Their vision of their new retail stores are about building and creating communities. Their staff are scrutinised and need to demonstrate that they are completely wedded to the Apple culture before they are let loose on the sales floor. The saying goes that it’s harder to get a job at Apple than be accepted accepted at Stanford University. It shows the importance Apple places on the in-store experience and the need to reflect and support the online brand promise.

The new retail store will create an immersive customer experience with access to developers so customers feel that they are playing a role in the next generation of products. The Genius Bar is now the Genius Grove accented by trees and outdoor areas and hubs or learning centers to find out more about iPhone photography and Apple Music for example, as well as informal coffee areas and sections where new businesses and start ups can get advice from their app developers. Apple are positioning themselves as the go-to place in the local community for work, rest and play, an indispensable part of your world.

Being constantly able to anticipate and lead change and being able to offer more reasons to visit instore is the key to unlocking continued retail success.

 

Image Credits: Apple

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