Retailing has undergone a huge transformation over the years. From Baby boomers to Gen X to Gen Y buyers, everyone has seen a change in buying behaviour, and the mass appeals, tastes and choices of these buyers are evolving every second, thanks to the global culture transformation.

What seems to work as a store format, a couple of years ago have seen paradigm shifts in terms of competition as newer non-store formats are constantly probing the retail consumer. Even according to Kotler's Black Box Model, the environmental stimuli keeps influencing the buyer to probe into different products and look for different, unexpected value additions which would not only satisfy, but also delight the retail buyer and provide him with an experience.

So what does the retail consumer do? He is suddenly bombarded with so many choices. A person wanting to shop, to enjoy the entire shopping experience would demand a little extra from the mall or store he shops from. On the other hand the consumer, who wants maximum value at least possible prices, would prefer a wider assortment of goods and a wide plethora of choices to suit his everyday needs.

A retail consumer may even want to sit back and relax at home and do all the shopping for the months groceries. A working professional does not have the time to buy a digital camera, so he orders it through the internet.

Research shows that a retail consumer is willing to pay twenty five dollars extra, if he is extremely satisfied with the shopping experience. Hence retailing giants strive hard to give that extra delight to consumers by providing innovative yet delightful experiences to the consumers. For example, according to a research conducted by Calif-based regional mall REIT Macerich, to identify what attracts more consumers, the study showed that fountains can play an important role in increasing sales.

Fountains create an atmosphere which is attractive and invites more consumers to enjoy the entire experience of shopping. There is also a huge fountain outside Las Vegas Bellagio casino which is synchronized with musical tunes and attracts hundreds of shopper's every day.

Most retailers now understand this, and are striving hard to create a complete 'Shopping Destination' by adding innovative features like these to create a differentiating factor among other retailers.

Additional tips to budding retailers as well as established retailing giants:

  1. Consumer delight is everything. Focus on consumer by providing him with value products at a convenient and well designed retail store.
  2. Mass customization is the way of the future. Organizations like Dell, Levis Strauss have showed an example of how effective it is to provide customized offerings to its consumers.
  3. Focus on differentiating with other competitors by providing a complete shopping experience.
  4. Use innovative techniques and store formats like pop-up retail, to target consumers who lead hectic lives and need an outlet for high-speed retail.

Retailing has been largely dominated by category killers like Wal-Mart, Home-Depot, Starbucks, however with changing consumer buying trends and using innovative retailing practices, small independent retailers can still survive in the marketplace, by differentiating their offerings and providing a unique experience to consumers.

Lawrence Gilbert shares more on Marketing Insight at his homepage:

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