I am at the Coral ridge Mall in Iowa City Iowa. I’ve been studying the Helzberg jewelry store here. They’re doing something better than almost every other retail store in the country, and we wanted to understand it. But that’s a topic for another day.
What I want to share is how busy this mall is. Today is a Tuesday, and since the mall opened at 10 AM, it’s been busy. Traffic throughout the mall … in the stores … people shopping and buying. I spend a lot of time in malls, and the majority of them are dead or dying. This mall has a good location, sure. But good location doesn’t guarantee a good mall. If you look behind me you’ll see that’s an ice skating rink, and that ring is filled with people skating for fun but also taking ice skating lessons. There’s a children’s museum here, and fun activities scattered throughout the mall – things that make it an entertaining place to be.
I don’t think retail has quite figured out what it wants to be in the 21st century yet. But I do know it’s about experiences. This mall is creating experiences, and therefore it’s creating traffic.
In fact, all businesses today are about experiences. Customers for every type of business, in B2B or b2c, just have so many choices. And when prices are relatively stable across the board, and quality is quite high across the board, then the only differentiator is experience. I’m not talking about service. Service is expected. I’m talking about experiences, things that make life more interesting, or more fun, or more valuable.
As I talk to you now I’m watching grandparents walking into the mall with small children. This is a place to go. How can you make your business a place to go, an experience to have, in ways that are relevant to your business? The staff in the Helzberg’s I’ve been working in are so passionate about jewelry that that store is fun. They study gemology, they listen to fun podcasts and read the latest blogs on jewelry. They’re all taking classes or otherwise studying, and they’re sharing those stories and all that enthusiasm with their customers. That’s an experience. I didn’t see a coffee maker in the store, nobody was offered a manicure or a glass of wine. The experience they’re offering in that jewelry store is the richest possible experience of buying and selling jewelry.
The experience this mall is offering is an exciting experience of a place to go and things to do which includes shopping. So that’s what I wanted to share with you today. What relevant meaningful experiences are you offering? Do you understand your own brand enough to offer experiences that are consistent with expanding your brand? That’s what it takes to be successful today. And when you’re creating those relevant experiences, you won’t just be making more money. You’ll be having more fun.