October 9, 2014

5 Lessons From Retail Stores With Unique Cultures


Bright white lights, annoying elevator music, and cheesy sales posters used to be the standard expectations of one’s visit to a retail location. But as we progress in the digital era where change is more constant than ever, we’re noticing radical changes toward a culturally-driven retail experience. Technology is disrupting the world, and retail stores are no exception.

What can we learn from retail stores that have a one-of-a-kind culture? What are they doing to attract new and returning customers? Let’s take a closer look at five notable examples.

Be Active In The Community 

Lululemon, a hot rising yoga brand, is committed to being a good neighbor in the local community of their retail locations. They offer free fitness classes such as yoga and kickboxing courses and promote local events related to the fitness lifestyle. We had a chance to chat with the supervisor, Crystal, of one of their San Francisco locations and learn more about their active participation in their neighborhood. “We consider our customers to be the most important part of the business, so we find creative ways to give back to the community and have fun.” Additionally, Crystal mentions that they sponsor community run clubs and donate to charities. An impressive retail culture indeed.

Tell Your Brand Story Through Technology

Disney has always been a master of telling stories, and they have been doing it consistently for nearly a century. However, their retail chain has struggled to bring that magic to their stores.

They recently did a renovation of their existing Disney retail stores with an aim to revolutionize the Disney shopping experience. Once one of the first locations with the new facelift opened, the media couldn’t help but take notice. Part of their facelift was incorporating an incredible amount of technology to the store, such as a digital mirror with Disney characters, digital touch screens, and mobile payment options, which all helped to keep customers in the shop longer and reduce wait times for checkout.

Be Fun! 

V Barbershop is committed to creating a fun environment throughout their nationwide locations. They have a billiards table for customers to play a quick game of pool, and they also offer a wide selection of cigars. Founded in 1999, the V Barbershop has revolutionized the barber experience and set new standards in Men’s Grooming. Their formula seems to be working as this experience-orientated company is growing fast and now has locations in 10 states.

Make it Convenient

Hointer has made finding well-fitting jeans a much simpler process, particularly for those in a hurry, or those who don’t necessarily enjoy the shopping experience: namely, men. By scanning a QR code, customers can have their jeans of choice delivered directly to a changing room in their desired size.

This saves customers from having to go through piles of clothing just to find what they’re looking for, be it style, comfort or fit. Have you ever had a frantic episode in the morning because you couldn’t find anything to wear? Well, Hointer wants to change that by finding what you’re looking for, be it style, comfort, or fit. For some customers, a speedy shopping experience could be the answer to otherwise mundane trips to the mall or the department store.

Hire Passionate Employees 

Apple’s retail job postings are anything but drab, bland or ordinary. Their sales staff job description (which they call a Specialist) includes the terms and phrases such as “enrich people’s lives”, “meaningful dialogue”, “coolest products on earth”, “recommending solutions”, “inspire their hopes and dreams”, and others.

Now that sounds more like a call to be an entrepreneur than it does a description for a sales position at a retail store. For Apple, these job descriptions also serve the function of helping them find the right people. Someone who is attracted to the idea of fostering a customer dream is likely to be more in-line with Apple’s culture than someone who merely wants a job.

Do you think these ideas can work for your small business? Join us in the social conversation on Twitter: Follow us on @HumanityApp