Do or Die
There’s no denying the changes we have seen in recent years on our country’s high streets.
Shops, established for years and even decades, have been closing their doors faster than they can say ‘closing down sale.’
Times are definitely changing. More people are shopping online and consumers are being far more particular when it comes to having an emotive end user experience.
Customers want it all. A unique shopping experience, with excellent customer service, open consumer feedback channels, choice and value.
And there’s no denying that some stores – particularly more established brands that are rather set in their ways – are struggling to keep up.
Debenhams is one such high street brand that’s been struggling to keep up with changing times.
Last month, there was talk of redundancy as they strived to cut costs.
It’s likely that around 90 people will lose their jobs across the fashion and home departments based on these consultations.
Earlier in the year, 320 store management roles were disposed of.
And full year profits are expected to drop by over £10 million.
Yes, times are tough, so the cost cutting, which is expected to save the retailer around £20 million a year, was much needed.
Fight to the death
However, Debenhams are refusing to simply follow the brands who have cut jobs and closed stores on that painful journey to the final adieu.
They’re not simply treading water.
No, instead, they are like the swan, going hell for leather behind the scenes to get to where they want to be.
They are going all out in the hope of telling customers – in no uncertain terms – that Debenhams is changing.
And that change is coming about through a complete rebrand and modernisation.
The scheme has been dubbed “Debenhams Redesigned”.
The makeover includes a new logo – the first in 20 years. Plus, some of the brand’s flagship stores will be remodelling.
In fact, shops in Cambridge, Leicester, Reading and Sheffield have already undergone detailed and lengthy modernisation. The changes build in elements of their award-winning store in Stevenage.
This will include showrooms highlighting new items, new fixtures and fittings, new sections for jewellery, watches and lingerie, plus the introduction of Debenhams’ very own food brand, which will be known as The Kitchen.
Debenhams aims to roll out the new branding online initially, through their digital and social media platforms.
The strategy for Debenhams Redesigned aims to alter the shopping experience for the customer.
Yes, there are improvements to the stores underway and product offerings are changing too. But the main aim of the reinvention is to give consumers more reason to come in to the stores. And to offer them an improved experience when they do.
Of course, they don’t say how they are going to deliver that new and improved, emotive end user experience.
But at least they know what they want to achieve and have set out to do it.
I have to admit to being a little twitchy as to how a store makeover and new logo will get more people in off the streets, especially in this day and age of online shopping.
We’ve got to assume that they have done their end user experience monitoring and taken customer feedback on board so that they are better equipped to use the redesign as an opportunity to better meet customer requirements.
And nowadays, that is something every brand has to be conscious of.
As I said earlier, customers want it all.
Seriously, consumers have brands by the short and curlies.
Even if they’ve been loyal to a business for years, they won’t bat an eyelid about taking their custom elsewhere if they don’t get the experience they want.
And the experience is no longer all about products, services and price.
It’s about better engaged store associates.
And one to one communication and open lines for 24/5 customer feedback management.
But it’s also more than that.
It focuses on all aspects of an end-users involvement during the shopping process. That includes rational thinking, plus their emotional, physical and sensory experience during their involvement with your brand.
Basically, you need to look at all aspects of your delivery.
From not only the perspective of the quality of customer care but also advertising, packaging, product or service features, ease of use and reliability.
And everything that comes afterwards, when they leave your store or log out of your website.
It’s basically a marriage between consumer values and the contribution of the company that is providing the experience.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help…
So, you need to know what your customers want. We can give you insight into your business from a consumer perspective with our end-user experience monitoring.
And perhaps, like Debenhams, you’ll need a new logo, bit of a store revamp and lick of paint to have then running through your doors in droves, like packs of loyal, four legged friends.
Or maybe you’ll need to dig a bit deeper than design.
But, whatever it takes, if you want to keep up with the times you have to aim to deliver a customer experience that is personal and unique and stimulates all the senses.
Because in such a competitive market, the only customers experiences that won’t be forgotten are the memorable ones.