5 Ways Small Businesses Can Offer Experiential Retail Like Big Brands (Without Big Budgets)

My Post - 2020-02-13T161757.766.pngOne of the most common misconceptions about retail today is that lean, online retailers are devouring the revenues of brick-and-mortar stores. While this may make for more compelling headlines, it doesn’t tell the full story.

In many parts of the world, the retail landscape is becoming increasingly divided. At one end of the spectrum, there are the retailers that prioritize large, diverse inventories and low prices—a business model best exemplified by Walmart and similar low-cost chains. At the other end, there are the high-end retailers that prioritize luxury goods and superior customer service. For those retailers, exclusivity is the primary motivation for their customers.

It’s those brands “in the middle”—the ones that can’t compete based on cost or luxury—that struggle to differentiate. And it’s these same brands that can benefit the most from experiential retail.

What is experiential retail?

Experiential retail seeks to delight shoppers with memorable shopping experiences that can be shared. In many ways, experiential retailers aim is to create communities around their brands.

As customers become more selective about the brands they shop with, the in-store experience needs to stand out from the pack. The catch? It can’t be gimmicky and forgo the transactional element entirely. At the end of the day, shoppers are still there to buy.

“The best kind of experiential retail are the experiences that are repeatable—not one-off gimmicks, where you take an Instagram selfie and call it a day. Meaningful experiences are where you want to go back time after time after time because the service is great, or you have a relationship with the person who works there. Repeatable value that’s different from your online experience.” — Arpan Podduturi, Director of Product, Shopify

Navigating experiential retail is tricky, so in this post, we take a look at four high-profile brands who do it best, and unpack what makes their experiences effective in terms of driving foot traffic, increasing sales, and building long-term loyalty.

4 examples of experiential retail (and takeaways)

While many experiential retailers adopt similar strategies to provide superior shopping experiences to their customers, there’s a great deal of variance from one retailer to another. The qualities the following retailers share, however, is a commitment to creating authentic, human, and immersive experiences that align with their brand values and product offerings.

Allbirds: Selling “the comfiest shoes on the planet”

Footwear is one of the most lucrative and competitive verticals in retail. In a multibillion-dollar industry dominated by entrenched incumbents, new entrants in the footwear market are uncommon—which makes footwear retailer Allbirds’ success all the more remarkable.

Many of Allbirds’ shoes are constructed from a superfine merino wool sustainably sourced in New Zealand. In the early days of the company, many consumers were intrigued by the unorthodox material. This created opportunities for Allbirds to create a narrative surrounding its products, highlight how and where the company sources its materials, and start conversations about the sustainability of the fashion and apparel market—all of which have become central to the company’s brand.

Allbirds didn’t just want to sell “the comfiest shoes on the planet.” It wanted to redefine the entire experience of buying a new pair of shoes.

“Consumers want to understand the product and the materials. They want to have transparency into the supply chain. They want to trust the brands they support to do something more.” —Tim Brown, cofounder, Allbirds

Allbirds began selling its shoes online in 2016 and opened its flagship retail store in San Francisco in May 2017. Opening retail stores wasn’t just a way for Allbirds to increase its physical footprint—it gave the company a way to interact with customers directly and provide the kind of shopping experience that few other footwear retailers can offer.

The company’s stores are as minimalistic as Allbirds’ footwear. Select pairs are wall-mounted throughout Allbirds’ stores, showcasing the company’s newest designs without overwhelming customers. The shop floors are similarly roomy and allow customers to browse at their leisure.

This also gives Allbirds’ sales associates the opportunity to answer customer questions and tell people about Allbirds’ products and brand values as they shop. Allbirds’ New York location even features a “service bar,” where customers can take their time in finding the right size.

 

“Allbirds
The brand’s retail spaces are as clean and comfortable as their products. Allbirds

The result is a relaxing and educational experience that goes beyond the clinical nature of most shoe stores. The company’s retail locations have proved so popular that Allbirds plans to open an additional 20 stores in 2020, many of which will be located across the U.S. – Read more

6 Tricks for Better Software Onboarding

My Post - 2020-02-04T174017.405.pngSoftware is the foundation for just about every business. Whether accounting, sales, operations, e-commerce, customer service, marketing or a specialized niche, business and most of life in general now flows through some sort of software package.

While businesses typically don’t change software solutions as often as consumers add new apps, there’s nonetheless a constant process of onboarding as old software require upgrades, new solutions bring competitive advantage, and business expansion demands additional software solutions.

For each change in software, employees need to be onboarded. This process of getting workers up to speed is critical because poor adoption breaks workflows, reduces staff efficiency and minimizes the impact of business software.

Poor onboarding also creates shadow IT when employees go around a company’s software solution in favor of something they find online or through an app store. The threat of shadow IT alone is reason enough to take software onboarding very seriously.

With that in mind, here are six tricks for improving the software onboarding efforts after your company.

1. Onboard Only What’s Most Important

The typical software package has plenty of features and capabilities. Not all of these features are equally important for the business, however. Even business processes around a given software solution are not equally important.

So a key trick for better onboarding is knowing what matters most and focusing on that. Onboarding everything might be ideal, but start with just the critical functionality and business processes so the onboarding process is digestible and doesn’t overwhelm employees.

“During the initial onboarding phases,” says David Dremann, director of IT services for BLM Technologies, “it’s easy to let every step, process or challenge feel like it carries equal weight. It does not. Determine which processes take the highest precedence and communicate them to your team.”

2. Make Onboarding Self-Serve

Rare is the employee who gets excited by the thought of mandatory company software training. Software training sessions have a bad rap for good reason: learning software is best done on an as-needed basis, not in a classroom setting where processes are covered all at once and divorced from actual usage.

“Today’s employees do not want to spend time going through training and documentation to start using software,” notes Prasad Ramakrishnan, chief information officer for customer service software firm Freshworks. “When you want to onboard them, think about self-service methods that’ll enable them to start using it right away versus a full-fledged onboarding.”

So a second tip is offering a quick jump-start training for basic familiarity, then leaving most of the onboarding help to a self-service training solution that employees can use whenever they get stuck or want to dive deeper into the software.

3. Create SOPs for Passive Guidance

Despite good onboarding, employees will forget some of what they learned. This is normal even for studious employees who take good notes.

That’s why a third trick for onboarding is defining key steps and best practices around the software at the onset and putting those guidelines into a standard operating procedure (SOP) document that employees can access at any time. SOPs help employees all follow the same best practices around the software, and they serve as a reference guide after training. – Read more

How Thinkific’s Using 700+ Landing Pages to Double Their SaaS Growth This Year

My Post - 2020-02-04T162207.347.pngWhen SaaS companies grow, they want to grow fast.

But for every dollar you raise from investors, for every new developer you hire, and for every new beanbag chair you add to your fancy office loft—your marketing team gets put under just a little bit more pressure. Because when you start to scale up, everyone looks to the marketers on your team to deliver more leads, more demo requests, more trial starts, more paying customers, more, more, more.

(OK, so maybe it’s a lot of pressure.)

That’s why it’s important for SaaS marketers to be able to build and test campaigns quickly to see what actually works. It’s a strategy that’s helped Thinkific, the #1 software to create and sell your own online courses, grow from a scrappy startup to an industry leader in just a few years.

Here’s what Andrea Merson, Senior Director of Marketing and Creative at Thinkific, remembers about when they were just starting to scale up.

Andrea Merson, Thinkific

I was with the company when there were just six of us. We had no design team for marketing and really limited resources. Back then, we were just trying to iterate quickly to see what worked.

Since then, Thinkific has grown into a company of over 100 employees and 40,000 customers. And Andrea says they’re still ramping up to become even bigger—over the next year, Thinkific is on track to double in size.

To drive all this growth, their team is running some seriously impressive marketing campaigns. Here are just a few of the ways Thinkific has been able to generate leads and expand the top of their funnel using Unbounce…

  • In less than two years, Thinkific published over 700 landing pages to drive more than 150,000 (!!!) conversions.
  • On one promotional campaign alone, they were able to drive 600 new customers to sign up for Thinkific Pro over just two weeks (doubling their traffic and conversion rates from the year prior).
  • They’ve been able to hit 50% conversion rates on their webinar landing pages, even getting over 10,000 people to register and participate in a recent online summit.

Wanna see how they did it? – Read more