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What Retailers Can Learn from Friday 13th

Not everyone is superstitious, but certainly, the number thirteen carries a connotation that makes people think twice. Many buildings and hotels omit or rename the 13th floor, and some airports don't have a gate thirteen. But let's not look at the superstition itself. Let's look at how people react, since this has some relevance in the world of retail.

Whether superstitious or not, many folks will have a reflexive response to Friday the 13th – this is ingrained in the psyche. It may last only a second or two, after which a person either persists with their superstition and changes plans, or they do not.

This is an important concept for retailers to keep in mind since it points to a growing trend in the marketplace – flash reactions with long-lasting consequences. 

The Power of Information

One of the most telling examples of this behavior takes place when a high-profile media outlet, financial expert, or another public figure makes a strong comment about a publicly traded company. Whether the comment is accurate or not, the news flies around the world at the speed of thought, and within minutes the share price may be affected, sending the company into public opinion firefighting mode. 

People respond quickly to ideas. Even in less dramatic situations, like shopping on a retail floor, consumers may make snap decisions against a purchase based on a single bad review they come across while price checking the item through their mobile device.

All of the effort that the retailer invested in laying out the store, strategizing the price point, supporting the brand, and ordering the merchandise in anticipation of sales, goes out the window. Whether the review itself was real or contrived, it becomes the most recent and persuasive piece of information discovered by the customer, and it becomes the critical decision-making factor. 

This pattern of instantaneous reaction is what retailers can learn from Friday the 13th. It is not about black cats or supernatural symbols. It is all about the hearts and minds of shoppers.

Information as a Sales Tool

The antidote to the negative reactions that lead to cart abandonment and lost sales lies within the abilities of sales associates to quickly use that information. Associates are responsible for welcoming customers into stores, and when properly armed with relevant data, they can create and nurture relationships that guide shoppers into making purchases, confidently and without reservation. 

The data that elevates conversations to this level can be delivered to sales associates through a retailer’s own mobile app. It can be transmitted through the store's Wi-Fi to associates’ smartphones and tablets, and can be curated to ensure that no customer is left alone to be improperly influenced by outside forces or misinformation.

Reacting to information is a natural human reflex. However, confidence and trust are stronger elements in the customer journey.

In an age where both information and misinformation fly at people at great speed, retailers who wish to fight back must equip store associates with better and more influential alternatives, along with adequate training and incentives to continuously access and leverage that data to their advantage.  

Feel like something is missing in your mobile strategy? It's probably the empowerment of your store associates. Download our 30-minute webinar with Stephan Schambach, CEO, NewStore and Phil Granof, CMO, NewStore as they discuss why empowering your brand ambassadors (aka store associates) with mobile is what's missing in your relationship retailing strategy.

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Editor, The Mobile Retail Blog

Editor-in-Chief of The Mobile Retail Blog with NewStore.

Topics: Retailers