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Paco Underhill Brings Fresh Ideas for SMART Show Audience to Take Home

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In his Saturday keynote address to attendees of The SMART Show, best-selling author Paco Underhill listed five factors influencing how retail will have to evolve in the immediate future.

  1. Information architecture — the understanding of how people see the meeting of art and science
  2. The needs of female shoppers and their growing wealth
  3. The fact that people feel more time-poor than money-poor
  4. The notion of what is global and what is local — knowing and adapting to your local market
  5. The fact that 80 percent of global wealth is now in the hands of people who made their money within their lifetimes

The key, of course, is how to adapt to these times, and while the answers must come from individual stores and their knowledge of their own markets, Underhill did offer a variety of takeaways:

  • The fact money is in the hands of a much more diverse population demands that marketing and advertising reach a diverse cross section of the population.
  • Retail design will trend toward “metrotropic” environments that are more reflective of a home environment — with natural light, for instance.
  • “Amenability and profitability are linked.”
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  • To the person who asks: “Why would I want a dressing room in a jewelry store?” the answer is: “You’re a guy, and you just don’t get it.” The point being, Underhill said, is that having a dressing room would allow a woman to accessorize her entire ensemble for her upcoming event.
  • “We are much less disciplined shoppers if our saliva glands are working.” Even so, Underhill cautioned against the common suggestion of having cookies baking in your store — you’re not selling Betty Crocker, he noted. Rather, he suggested that jewelry store scents should be subtle.
  • “If a woman has a place to park her two-legged pet, then she becomes a more effective shopper.” Underhill stressed that comfortable chairs for husbands are marketing tools, not simply store decor.
  • “Kids can be your allies or your enemies.” If you make your store kid-friendly, it helps overcome the veto power they have that may prevent Mom from coming in at all, and it helps them stay there longer once they do walk in.
  • Encourage photos — not just of merchandise, but if you have a display or element in your store that encourages people to pose for a photo, that image becomes a subtle ad for your store wherever it is posted.
  • When you make a sale to a woman, ask for her husband’s email address. Then make sure he receives gift suggestions before all major events and holidays throughout the year.
  • Your customers can be divided into the novice, the intermediate and the experienced. Once you recognize these types, you can begin selling specifically to them.

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