STORIES FROM THE FRONT: What we learned at retail

Been a regular devotee of Communicating By Design?  Then you’ll know we’re passionate, even batty about visual therapy; we go shopping often to get a regular dose of ideas and (in)sanity.

No kidding.

Our latest Eureka! emanates from the year-or-so-old retail tempest, called “showrooming.”  It’s an activity by a consumer who visits or calls a bricks and mortar outlet to check out products, then goes home, clicks, and buys online. 

At least one august b-school research claims that move is all about price.  Sure:  “Who’s got it cheapest” is definitely a motivator for many would-be buyers.  Other surveying institutions attribute the trend to less-than-satisfactory in-store customer service.  [And who among us can’t throw a stone, even at some of the best in the business?]

Target, for instance, has countered by pulling Kindle Fire and other Amazon products from its shelves. Some merchants add services or special deals to entice in-store buying.

Now it’s time to turn that topic inside out and relate it to our issues:  How many candidates or potential employees showroom your Web site?  Or surf the Web, even read print media and ask friends and family to check out your company and the deal it offers to its associates?  What does (or other online evaluators) say about working at Company XYZ?  What kind of “customer” service do prospects receive when contacted about a position … even when they’ve advanced to being a high-potential candidate?  How well do they understand what the company’s all about … if they’ve only clicked through your Web presence?

Yes, countering this slightly different form of showrooming is the province of human resources.  It should also be the territory of marketing and branding and design and communications, in partnership with the CPO.  Because no one function, no one department owns 100 percent of the real estate that attracts (or not) new employees. 

We all cover the front.