Make Shopping an Experience, Not a Task
Competing with Amazon-type giants is a tough feat. It’s no secret that people work hard during the week and don’t want to be bothered with mundane chores at night or on the weekend. After all, why would someone leave the comfort of their own home to grab something off the shelf and deal with an indifferent salesperson when the same product is just a few clicks away? Aside from situations that don’t allow for two-day shipping—say, forgetting to tell your mom that there’s no dog food left and now it’s 8 p.m. on a Sunday and she’s running out to the nearest shopping center—it seems that there’s no real draw to bring people into stores. Direct-to-consumer distributors are well aware of this and seem to have a monopoly on cheap prices and convenient shopping, but it’s time to fight back and do the one thing those companies can’t: make shopping an experience.
As FAO Schwarz is preparing to reopen its Manhattan, N.Y. doors in November, the company is currently in the process of interviewing and hiring performers. Sales staff will double as magicians and toy soldiers, marching around the store, while skilled musicians play the giant floor piano. Of course, it’s easier for multi-million dollar companies to invest the time, energy and money into over-the-top theatrics and intricate displays. However, that doesn't mean local mom-and-pop shops should feel powerless and discouraged.
Although product offerings and price points are key factors to success, customer service is arguably the most integral component of gaining new customers and retaining old ones. Despite the fact that FAO Schwarz can tend to have higher prices, people will still be coming through its doors and be willing to spend a few more dollars for the experience they’ll be receiving. At the end of the day, those eccentric performers are just regular employees who have a positive attitude combined with a noticeable passion about the company, its products and their job. That’s what creates such an inviting atmosphere.
This isn’t to say employers should spend huge amounts of money and time to interview and hire talent; it can be as simple as utilizing the people you already have on staff. That quiet cashier might possess incredible artistic abilities, so arm her with some cardboard and art supplies and see what incredible displays and decorations she’s able to bring to life. Something as minor as a little curb appeal and a friendly, caring staff could do wonders for improving and maintaining business.
Looking through all the smoke and mirrors, FAO Schwarz's strategy is as simple as that.