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WELCOME TO OUR STORE. NOW GET LOST.
14 April 2015

WELCOME TO OUR STORE. NOW GET LOST.

One thing I’ve noticed every time I walk into a national liquor chain is a large screen, placed in a prominent position at the entry where you can’t miss it.

It’s not a promotion as you might expect in such a prime position. It doesn’t even say, “Welcome, how can we help?” What it does do is show a closed circuit film of you the customer walking into the store. In other words what it says is, “We don’t trust you and we’re watching your every move.” What a nice welcome. If you had a greeter standing at the front door saying that to customers you wouldn’t get many coming in. And even if they did, how would you expect to gain their reciprocal trust that you are looking after them with the right quality goods at an honest price?

This could well be a piece about trust but it’s really about tone of voice. We know that shrinkage is a multi million-dollar problem in retail and we have to deal with it by installing intrusive security systems. But there are ways of communicating with customers in a more positive manner.

A simple “Smile you’re on camera” takes some of the tension out of it. A New Zealand grocery chain has a line, “Our prices are so low it’s not worth stealing.” It raises a smile, reminds opportunists that they are being watched and excuses the inconvenience of security checks. It’s an appropriate tone of voice.

There are all sorts of things that are communicated to customers in offhand or offensive ways. It doesn’t have to be like that. This message was seen in a beachside supermarket:

CONDITIONS OF ENTRY- MINIMUM DRESS CODE. SHIRT AND FOOTWEAR MUST BE WORN. MANAGEMENT RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE ENTRY 

I mean, come on, there’s a dress code for supermarkets? A little consideration can turn it into:

WEARING A SHIRT? GOT SOMETHING ON YOUR FEET? NOT DRIPPING WET? GREAT, COME ON IN.

And why can’t I take more than three items into a dressing room? Don’t you want me to try stuff on and buy it? New Look once had a message outside their dressing rooms that urged customers to take as many items as they wanted into the dressing rooms. No limits. How refreshing.

You have a tone of voice whether you want one or not. It can be written, spoken, or just implied. It can be positive and brand enhancing but if not considered it can also be off-putting or even rude. It can increase or decrease sales.

Be careful what you say and how you say it.

Gary McCartney is the owner of McCartney Design, an integrated design studio with all the skills and experience to help you create new benchmarks in your category.

14 April 2015
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