Top 25 Retail Website / Global Retail Influencer


Meet Michelle Phan, a retail consumer turned YouTube video star by simply going shopping. Follow this link to see her "$20 Makeup Challenge Haul (video)" that has gone viral with almost 1 million views from around the world.

Eighteen months ago, ran across an article highlighting a new YouTube phenomenon labeled "Haul Shopping Videos". Always keeping on eye on the future of retail, pondered at that time whether this was a fad or a trend of the continued industry evolution.

My favorite post this week provided the answer.

The concept of Haul Shopping Videos reminded me of the "15 minutes of fame" expression popular in the entertainment industry. Andy Warhol coined the term in 1968 when he said "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." Warhol made this prediction well before cable and satellite TV, the explosion of specialized TV channels, the advent of "reality" TV programs, and the global connectivity of the internet.

Entertainment to entice consumers to visit and shop in stores has been a retail strategy for some time. Back in 1997, a University of Wisconsin Study (*), highlighted the following as more modern examples:

  • In the Store - Merchandising demonstration areas (Costco), life enhancement activities (William Sonoma cooking lessons), Children's entertainment (Disney Stores), High Tech (Incredible Universe flashy stores), and relaxation (Barnes & Nobles reading areas).
  • Entertainment anchors - Theme restaurants, family entertainment centers, theaters, high tech entertainment centers.

Most of the physical retail entertainment concepts highlighted above are both expensive and easily copied. In more recent years, technology has taken on a greater role in profitably engaging customers. Example technology solutions include POS, kiosks, digital signage, tablets, loyalty programs, big data, video analytics, and RFID.

A haul shopping videos is a leading indicator that another wave of change is underway in how consumers need to be enticed to shop for your particular brand. In a nutshell, this new visual venue is the archetype of consumers achieving their own "15 minutes of fame". At its core, a haul shopping video hints that future consumer interaction needs to be more personal. The new shopping conversation needs to take into account the entire retail value chain - from the time the brand is introduced, to the instore and online buying experience, and more importantly to the post dialogue on the positive or negative impact from the purchase.

The key technologies near term that will drive the digital shopping conversation include smartphones, tablets, and social media. Through these tools, while trying to achieve their 15 minutes of fame, consumers will increasingly express their likes and dislikes. YouTube and other similar networks take it to another level by making the conversation visual. These new technologies are making it easier to provide immediate customer experience feedback to real and virtual global friends

Couple sets of statistics to keep in mind on the importance of a positive customer experience:

  • A recent Market Tools study shows that "a bad shopping experience" caused 29% of respondents to stop shopping in a retail store; 25% said the same about their experiences with online retail sites. (Source:Market Tools 2012)
  • Social customers will tell an average of 42 people about a good customer experience, and will tell an average of 53 people about a bad customer experience (Source: 2012 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer)

As shopping moves to a more personal conversation, some of key questions that retailers need to answer include:

  • How do we transform loyalty programs so they reach target customers at a more personal level? Is the current loyalty program stale? Are there strategies in place to continually understand and segment our customer base to optimize profitability?
  • Do we have a social media strategy and is it differentiated by the level of loyalty from our customer base? Can we actually make money / build the brand value through social media?
  • How do we leverage new digital technology to make the instore experiences more engaging? What is the roadmap for digital investments to get closer to our customer base? Do these investments take into account the entire retail value chain - pre / during / post sale?

Think Apple stores in terms of the personal digital experience they create in the store in being able to play with the gadgets, gets "experts" to answer your questions, have a "bar" experience to get trained, get your electronic set up and ready to use prior to leaving the store. Think Facebook, Twitter, YouTube as post shopping experience digital tools to monitor / enhance the instore customer experience.

Future successful retail will be all about figuring out the formula for making that consumer feel like they are experiencing their own 15 minutes of fame with your brand. Successful retailers will understand the value of entertainment in the success formula, will reinvent the stores using emerging technologies to make the conversation interactive, will monitor the response throughout the entire retail value chain experience, and will adjust their store / online content to build on the positives and minimize the negatives. It is all about executing on all cylinders a positive customer experience that builds lifetime profitable social media ambassadors for your business.

Think about the "ENTERTAIN" retail formula required for your brand to thrive, then "Carpe Diem"

P.S. To satisfy my personal 15 minutes of fame, "All right, Mr. De Mille, I'm ready for my close-up."

15 Minutes of Retail Fame



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