Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Stores That Thrive on Surprise

Not everyone is clicking or swiping to buy this year. Some shoppers are actually walking into bricks-and-mortar stores to see what's new and buy before someone else snaps up that unexpected treasure.

T.J. Maxx has a winning off-price formula: Put new merchandise out every day or two, offer name brands at low prices, and staff the cash registers to speed shoppers on their way. The stores have focused inventories that change all the time. So when shoppers walk in, they never know what they'll find. Yes, the retailer has an e-commerce operation, but the real appeal is the thrill of the hunt. Consumer behavior in action!

Same at Marshall's, where the slogan is "Your surprise is waiting." Also owned by TJX, Marshall's has a slightly wider variety of merchandise in each store, but the same merchandising philosophy--ship new merchandise regularly to bring shoppers back again and again. While T.J. Maxx does a bit of e-commerce, Marshall's only sells gift cards online. If you want to buy, you have to go to a store. The retailer's hashtag #MarshallsSurprise reinforces the treasure hunt aspect of the shopping experience.

Marshall's has 300,000 Twitter followers; T.J. Maxx has 385,000 Twitter followers. So the retail brands are social, adding word of mouth to the mix.

Sure, e-commerce is growing every a boost to the USPS, FedEx, UPS, and other carriers. But for some shoppers, the element of surprise is a real lure to real stores.

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