Guest Blog | Martin Skinner, Managing Director - Tailor Inc Ltd.
Martin Skinner, Managing Director Of Tailor Inc has 20 years’ experience as a retail designer for leading brands in New Zealand and overseas, and is known for successfully leading retail strategy and project delivery while managing both landlord and tenant design processes. Martin takes pride in developing the skills of his teams at Tailor and he has a hands-on approach to leading and managing project teams.
I was delighted when Martin agreed to write a piece for our Newsletter on the challenges of 2020 in the retail landscape and how this is influencing the great retail reset. RetailX regard Martin and his team as great friends of the RetailX family and not only do we respect what they add to the NZ retail landscape but we think they deliver exceptional work and outcomes for retailers.
I’ve always enjoyed the relationship between design and business. As a retail designer I’m intrinsically positive, curious and I enjoy working to tangible, measurable objectives. The test of good retail design is sustained sales, and the challenge lies in the constant reinvention of environments and experiences, and the twists and turns of the competitive and ever changing marketplace.
Stepping through COVID has been challenging for many but there are success stories and lessons that are making retail businesses altogether more resilient and better positioned to flourish in the ‘new normal’ as customers return. Now is a good time to review and potentially reset your customer experience.
Market reports will tell us that retail spending patterns are different, but customers (and sales potential) are still out there. Customers are just listening and behaving differently, so retailers need to modify their activity accordingly.
It has been encouraging to see many retailers take the step with new or invigorated online sales platforms, social media feeds and direct digital marketing campaigns to drive sales and brand loyalty. From what I have noticed, those who have made the effort have been rewarded. Retailers know their customers (and potential customers) best, so which ever platform you are using to communicate your authentic and compelling voice, continual engagement is essential when the doors are not open. With stores reopening what are the opportunities to affect the customer experience?
Because you have reached out, your customers are engaged. They have made a number of significant decisions to get to the front door of your business so don’t disappoint them when they arrive. Bring your customer experience to life in store. Greet every customer like they’ve reached the end of a long journey, like a VIP. Focus on creating energy and passion in-store. Ensure there are new and plentiful products with promotional options that make them hard to turn down. Use windows effectively by capturing those first impressions with bold promotional displays and communications. Excessive COVID signage is not helping your customer experience. Personal, human interaction that is reassuring and helpful is much more appreciated, memorable, and therefore beneficial for your brand.
It is also time to front foot your relationship with your Landlord. Most Landlords are prepared to talk with you about your specific needs. This goes deeper than rent support. Landlords need to know what is working for you, what is not and what your strategy looks like moving forward. Get some tenant advocacy if necessary and engage in talks constructively using your strong business plan and other consultant inputs to support your objectives. Landlord’s want to back a winning horse so providing a clear road map, emphasising the benefits to both parties is the best way forward.
Lastly, I’d say focus on improving the things you can control and don’t worry about the things you can’t. In order to roll with the punches, it helps to adopt a positive mindset and to get the right retail advice. Whether it’s lease related, design, fit-out, staff, marketing or all of the above, there may be opportunities that experts can pin-point that are not obvious to you when you’re battling the daily routine.
These are the conversations we have with our clients as we navigate these interesting times. At Tailor Inc we take the view that we’re better together, providing practical options, support and solutions for retailers who are managing the weight and complexity of their retail businesses and those all-important retail experiences.
Go well out there.
Martin Skinner is Managing Director or Tailor Inc, a retail strategy, design and project management company that works with many retail formats, retail brands and on large retail development projects across New Zealand. He is also an owner of fashion and homewares retail business Good Thing