Differentiation in today’s chaotic and must-be-everywhere-all-at-once commerce environment is difficult to nail down. From tapping into new customer journeys to transforming a business through its culture, brands today need to offer a unique value proposition.
Gretchen Ganc, EVP of strategy and analytics at the Container Store, spoke with Steve Dennis, president and founder of SageBerry Consulting, at the NRF show last week on the topic of staying relevant in the retail space.
With so much change happening over the last two decades, Dennis said convenience has been redefined, and therefore business practices must shift in order to remain competitive.
“We’ve gone through two decades of disruption, eroding key elements of scarcity that drove competitive advantage,” said Dennis during NRF’s Big Show session, “Shift Happens: Choose Remarkable or Irrelevance Produced by MarketDial.”
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“Inexpensive options are no longer scarce. While economic headwinds are putting downward pressure on prices, we still have discounters,” Dennis added.
Fears of a retail apocalypse are unfounded, he said. It’s the unremarkable retailers, however, that are either dead or dying. “How do we break through the noise and differentiate ourselves? To be merely very good is often ignored."
Transformative Change at all Levels
In response, Ganc said it’s about alignment of purpose — at the store level, at the customer level, at the employee level. This means keeping a pulse on what consumers are doing to be able to tailor to every one of them. Delivering great service also cascades from employee retention and care.
“We have to hire the right people. It’s around creating energy to keep them engaged and having fun,” she said. “I can walk into some stores and never see an employee. Our expectations for our stores are very different. Our employees are the heartbeat of our organization.”
Relevancy is directly tied to becoming memorable, added Dennis. And not just with Instagrammable moments, he emphasized. Companies must leap forward in what consumers expect and the competition is doing. This means being unique, amplifying “the wow,” and really making a difference to the customer.
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“This is about this idea that we need to be one brand even though we operate on many channels,” said Dennis.
Putting a Plan in Place