How do you attract even more customers these days? Grab your packing moment!

The annual festive season has opened and we are once again on the hunt for swinging outfits and surprising gifts. It is high season for fashion retailers. At the same time, the staff cannot be dragged along to ring the cash registers, let alone to pack the purchases sparkling. And that’s a shame, because that’s where retailers miss much-needed opportunities. Especially outside the festive season. The packing moment is the last moment to entice your customers for a quick return. It is high time to see the packing moment as a future sales moment.

Expanding contact moments in this time of digitization and corona

The contact moments with your customer are essential for your sales strategy. We all recognize the commercial value of the moments when we help the customer find the right size, or provide styling advice at the fitting rooms. In this time of digitization and corona, these contact moments are becoming scarcer and more fleeting. Making real contact in order to cash in on your sales strategy is therefore becoming more and more of a challenge.

At the same time, there are fashion retailers who are embracing digitization to improve the customer experience – even without human contact. For example, I recently bought a number of sweaters at Uniqlo and was impressed by their self-scan checkout. Thanks to the smart RFID technology in the checkout system, I didn’t have to unpack my shopping bag, but could just drop it – with all the clothes in it – in a loading box. The pile of textiles was scanned in seconds to an ordered amount on the screen. And after a quick wave of the Apple Pay on my phone, the receipt rolled out. A robot arm just barely came out of the machine to pack my purchases, otherwise this moment of convenience would be a scene from Back To The Future. Although there was no employee involved, this experience was very pleasant for me and provided me with a quick exit from the busy store. How different it was a little further away at a competitor, where I just found a cash register with an employee. This time it took longer at the checkout, my clothes were stuffed more carelessly into the bag than I would myself and I was given the mumbled version of ‘Have a nice day’. Although this is an isolated and unfortunate example, it strikes me more often that the last contact moment in the sales process is left quite unused. A shame, because with a manned cash register you can cleverly expand your arsenal of contact moments.

Uniqlo self-scan cash registers (photo by Melvin van Tholl)

From Contact to Contract: you do that with the ‘r’ for retention

The trick is to see the packing moment as your stage for unforgettable customer loyalty. If the customer is still watching passively, you might as well give them a ‘show’. A good example of this is the Chanel shop-in-shop in the Bijenkorf. We recently bought a special cream for my mother-in-law as a birthday present. To start with, a special gift box was brought out. While the jar disappeared in the box, the saleswoman asked us which other products the birthday boy or girl would like more. She very generously took a number of samples and made a whole package out of them in the gift box: a true party package. There was a bow around it. And when we asked for an extra bag to safely transport this precious gift, there was another bow around this bag. After all, a Chanel bag never leaves the store without a bow. A week later my mother-in-law was in seventh heaven with all her goodies. And immediately craved a visit to Chanel herself. So besides going back ourselves next time for a repeat performance to surprise someone else, Chanel has an extra customer in my mother-in-law. That is retention – or repeat visit – plus customer acquisition in one packing moment.

Chanel proves all too well how you can turn a contact moment into a contract moment (= customer loyalty) by adding the ‘r’ of retention marketing. And your packing moment is ideal for that. Adding a small gift and personal attention is not only surprising in the customer’s experience, but also serves as a compensation for the ‘wait’, a thank you for the purchase and as an invitation for the next time.

Chanel gift box at Bijenkorf Amsterdam (photo by Melvin van Tholl)

Getting started to pack customers: tips

How can you do this yourself easily and with a wallet-friendly budget? Here are some tips to make your packing moment a wow moment in the customer experience:

  • Use the talents of your present employees. Like in Issey Miyake’s boutique in Tokyo, where I watched in amazement as the employee artfully packed a customer’s purchases according to the clean line patterns for which the brand is known. And as a finishing touch, a small piece of origami performance was added in the shape of a bird or flower. For example, packing was cleverly used as an unforgettable signature moment in the customer experience.
  • Provide a solution as aftercare for the sold product. In Madrid, the saleswoman of a sweater store packed my fresh merino wool purchase with a sachet. This later spread not only the wonderful home scent of the brand in my closet, but also kept the moths away from my purchase. That way I could enjoy it for a long time to come. Scent is a strong medium to store your brand in the customer’s memory.
  • Make every contact with your product a happy moment. Humor is the best promo, that’s what they thought at my favorite sock specialty store. When packing my purchases they ask if I need a love bag for my socks. That is a laundry bag for the socks with the text: ‘Getting separated really socks!’. Your socks will never get lost in the wash. At the same time, every time I wash my clothes, I think back to my store visit with a smile.

This way, with a surprising packing moment, you can still make a visit to your business even well outside the festive season a party to – come back -!

This is a contribution from Melvin van Tholl, Customer Experience Architect, from BLOODY BELIEVERS. The creative-strategic agency that helps brands and companies develop groundbreaking solutions in their customer experience. He does this for companies in the Netherlands and abroad. In this series he takes you into the wonderful world of consumers, with lessons to make your company future-proof from the customer experience.

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