How a great retail brand experience can drive sales

Officeworks Ollie Kids Club
Shopping at the weekend, I was reminded how a well-considered retail brand experience can positively impact purchasing decisions. In particular, how unexpected brand gestures can make all the difference.

As a parent of a bright and inquisitive five year old, I have learned that taking her shopping is rarely a stress-free experience. With this in mind, I prepared myself for an extremely fast trip to my local Officeworks. But instead of the usual chaos, I was pleasantly surprised and felt compelled to share my Officeworks brand experience.

Within minutes of being in the store, my daughter was in fine form. She tried to ‘help’ me at the photo print kiosk by pushing all the wrong buttons. I had the usual endless supply of ‘why’ and ‘what’ questions. Then, she starts swinging on the chair to see if she could break it. I was desperately looking for ways to make a swift escape and restore some dignity!

Then suddenly, the whole shopping experience changed. My daughter noticed a little table, with little chairs and other ‘little’ princesses and princes diligently creating works of art, Mister Maker style.

“Daddy, can I do that?” she begged.

Officeworks kids craft table
Surprised to see something like this in an office supplies store, I assumed it must be for a private party. If not, it must be an entrepreneurial move to get more money out of me while in store.

To my delight, it was open to any child and it was free. Apparently, it is an extension of the Officeworks Ollie Kids Club.

What a fabulous idea and a great brand gesture! As she sat there entertained, I was free to browse in peace. Half an hour or so later, I ended up spending significantly more time and money in the store than I had intended. My daughter also proudly brought home some ‘lovely’ creations for Mummy and Grandma. Perfect timing with Mother’s Day as well!

I also noticed there were computer terminals set up with games for the older kids. I could’ve brought my son along (my wife and I might even break our golden rule of divide a conquer with the kids when it comes to shopping).

This made me wonder why some retailers get it and others don’t. Officeworks demonstrated to me that they understand the challenges of shopping with young children. Despite not being a toy shop, the store was able to to entertain children. They realise that by making the experience enjoyable for the children, parents will spend more time and money in their stores. It really is that simple.

I have since noticed several parenting blogs talking about Officeworks being child friendly and complimenting their school holiday activities so there is some good PR in it for them too. It also ties in nicely to the brand tapping into the school supplies market.

Driving all of this appears to be a solid Officeworks brand belief about creating a welcoming and stress-free brand experience. I noticed that they made an effort to greet me when I enter the store and despite being busy, staff took the time to deliver helpful customer service.

Officeworks also carries through the customer centric approach to online shopping. Next day delivery is just that, even when I’ve ordered late on a Sunday. Delivery is also free for purchases over $55. Again, it seems obvious but I am still waiting on another local retailer to dispatch my purchase after nearly two weeks!
With many Aussie retailers complaining how tough the market is, maybe getting back to basics is required. It all starts with understanding your audience. What matters to them and how can you make the shopping experience more enjoyable?

If you are a brand manager, what are you doing to better understand your customer and their barriers to purchase? What is a great brand gesture that you could do to improve the shopping experience for your customers?

Michael Hughes
Partner and Strategy Director

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