What’s happening in retail and what does it mean for you?

SP-Shopping-Survey-206x300A new study just released by the IBM Institute for Business Value about how consumers shop has some interesting, but not really surprising, results.

We all know the issue of ‘showrooming’ – where customers are using bricks and mortar stores to try on/out goods that they then purchase online. This study indicates that:

Nearly half of all online buyers in the retail categories covered by our study were showroomers. Further, 25 percent of these shoppers said they initially planned to buy in store, but were swayed by their online experience – and 65 percent of these showroomers said they planned to buy online for their next purchase.

Not great news. So what can you do about it? Ensure your in store experience is as easy as possible, personalise it and create a seemless flow between the online and offline environments. Read more about the study here.

The ARA thinks more needs to be done to support retailers as competition for overseas, multi channel retailers, revvs up:

“The ARA has been instrumental so far in supporting the shift in the retail sector in response to an omni-channel and constantly- connected consumer. To continue to compete, taxation, tariff, tenancy and workplace flexibility reform must happen to build the strong business and consumer environment Australian- based retailers need to prosper.”

Hear more about their arguments for reform here.

So what does this mean for you the retailer? The demanding consumer has arrived. According to the Ernst and Young Report: This time it’s personal – from consumer to co-creator, there’s a number of things you need to be doing to compete:

  • Designing and developing products and services

  • Choosing the right supplier and guaranteeing quality

  • Developing the right customer communication strategy

  • Defining convenient distribution channels

  • Securing the optimum multi-channel experience

  • Delivering first-rate after-sales services

It doesn’t need to be scary though, it’s a great opportunity to really connect and add value to people’s lives. Need some help with creating a great local experience? Contact us anytime for a free initial consultation.

Getting hooked on the story

Story telling is all the rage in business now. But I think there is good reason. We’ve always loved telling stories. We keep inventing new technologies to do more of it – from mobile technology, to television, to the printed word.

As Stephen Denning, champion of organisational story telling begins his book ‘The Springboard’:

Why storytelling? Nothing else worked. Charts left listeners bemused. Prose remained unread. Dialogue was just too labourious and slow…. I found that a certain sort of story enables chnge by providing direct access to the living part of the organisation.

Australian story experts Anecdote put it simply that:

  • Stories inspire us to take action
  • Stories stick in your mind much better than bullet points or clever arguements.

So, great, okay, but it begs the question – how exactly can I use a story in my business to create more engagement with my target audience?

There are so many ways. Here’s some great examples I’ve seen:

  • Fair trade clothing maker Eternal Creation adds a vignette of its workers on its facebook page. It works because you get a real sense of the people you are supporting with your purchase – feel good factor = repeat customers!
  • QR code technology is being used in Wales to give people more information on gravestones they come across. It works because it is instant – visitor finds something, is intrigued, wants to know more and can easily with their phone right there and then.
  • And then there are product stories, like those of Original Bean:

For each bar sold, Original Beans plants a tree in the rainforest where the bar’s ingredients originated. Each bar carries a certificate inside the wrapper with a lot number that designates the location of a new tree. By entering the tracking code on the company’s website, customers can not only trace where the cacao beans in their individual bar were grown, but also what their contribution is to the chocolatier’s rainforest replenishment efforts. Hence the company’s mantra: “One bar, one tree, go see.”

So how can you let your customers and visitors know how special you are, allow then to dig deeper and find out more about you?

And of course, we are here to help. Done well, stories could have a huge impact on your customer and staff engagement. It doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. Want to brainstorm some ideas? Great, shoot us an email

Destination marketing outside the box

So what do you do if you don’t have a huge budget but need to make a big impact? Well Canberra decided to create a ‘human brochure’ and the response has been huge.

It’s about taking a ‘word of mouth’ approach to marketing and pumping it up to bursting point. They explain:

The Human Brochure is a world-first advocacy campaign from Australian Capital Tourism, bringing 500 social-media savvy Australians to Canberra for a weekend getaway – the only condition being attendees had to share their experiences via social media.

The first group of 250 humans came to Canberra over the weekend of 26 to 28 October, resulting in an onslaught  of #HumanBrochure across all social media channels. It’s estimated this reached over 4.2 million Australians, with the hash tag trending in the top five for most of the two-and-a-half day weekend. It beat the Windows8 launch, Halloween and even Twitter king Justin Beiber for a short time.

The word-of-mouth advocacy campaign using social media channels saw more than 31,400 Australians apply. Over the first weekend in October 2012 the humans generated 4,339 tweets, 2,762 Instagram photos and 1,100 Facebook posts that were shared, with sentiment 92% positive, reaching more than 4.2 million people. On Twitter #HumanBrochure trended in the top 5 for 20 out of 28 daylight hours of the weekend.

The next lot of ‘human brochures’ descend in 15-17 February. More info available at www.humanbrochure.com.au

So sometimes budget isn’t always the answer. Finding a group of advocates for your brand is powerful stuff. How are you going to find and feed your own brand ambassadors?

Remember you can join the experience for some helpful tips or contact us to talk through your options and review your marketing plan. January Special – Let us review your marketing plan and make some recommendations to get your destination marketing off to a flying start this year for only $59. This applies to bricks and mortar businesses wanting to attract more people to their door. If that’s you, email here: projects@thelocalexperience.com.au

Local towns are counting the ways to share their experiences

An exciting new project celebrates small towns in Victoria through storytelling.

It’s called Let Me Count the Ways and it’s aim is to build state-wide community engagement across and in all regions.

As Roger Alsop explains ‘I am putting together a project where I want to ask people who live in small towns to document what they love about their town, (or really any aspect of their life) in any way they want to – for example movies from their phone, writing, pictures, etc – anything at all that people feel comfortable with. This will then be made available, with permission, on the web and in any other way the people who participate would like.’

All contributions are accepted. Everyone is welcome, and there is a focus on smaller regional towns.

Everything offered by the contributors will be made universally available through the web. Contributions from specific locations will also be made available to the residents of those locations for public presentation through local galleries, social groups, town halls, information centres, schools, and any other outlet deemed appropriate by the community; there will be assistance available for the public presentation.

Let Me Count the Ways shares the joys of location, personal interests and activities, and the everyday.

If you want to participate, send your contributors to

countingthewaysemail@gmail.com.

We look forwarding to seeing how this project progresses!

New year planning inspiration for life and business

I have always found it essential at this time of year to review the past year and plan for the next. This year I’m particularly excited about what’s to come. 2013 is already shaping up to be a huge year. And I have collected some great resources to help with planning that I thought I’d share with you in case you need a little inspiration or help with getting 2013 off to a great start.

Firstly, if you haven’t checked out Danielle La Porte – do. She is inspiring. Check out this video for ‘making it happen’ as a starting point. Her philosophy on goal setting is to first identify your core desired feelings – how do you want to feel most of the time? Strong, smart, confident etc. Then plan actions to create those feelings. There’s more in her webinar here.

For looking back over the past year and learning from it, Robin Sharma has some great points. What were your top business lessons from 2012? Take that and grow in 2013. Check out more great resources on his site.

For some great articles to help you refine your goals and make sure you are on the right track (hint: do you read your goals and think ‘Yes! Awesome!’. If not, try again!), try BRW’s How to accomplish your new year resolutions, HBR’s Consider Not Setting Goals in 2013 for an interesting take and my friend and former colleague Dionne’s post with notable points on money not being a motivator. And here’s a quick video from the Chopra Well on setting intentions for the new year.

In case that’s not enough revving you up for 2013, here’s a short video about life = risk. I’ve become a firm believer that risk taking in life and business is essential to expanding your horizons, learning, growing and achieving. Enjoy.

Do you have any resources you love for goal setting and new year focusing? Add them to the comments, I’d love to explore more as I finalise my own plans.

If one of your intentions is to try some new things in your local area this year, watch out for our 30 days of customer engagement inspiration coming soon. Subscribe to this blog to keep in touch or sign up here.

Wishing you a prosperous new year.