Retail Marketing|Thought Leadership|Trends|

Having navigated the digital divide and social distancing, retail emerges more committed to customers and their experiences through increased connection, personalization and customization.

When a retailer in the age of e-commerce has more stores than any other company – 18,000-plus across 46 states – it’s doing something right. Given that the company has grown to become one of the most profitable stores in rural America, posting revenue of around $27 billion in 2019, we’ll say quite right. From manmade market disruption to the market and social disruption of the pandemic, the health and evolution of the retail industry have been a major real estate focus, with strong leadership in turbulent times worth its weight in gold. We salute (and study) Dollar General.

 “I believe there are three essential indicators to the success and continued evolution of Dollar General and nearly every retailer for that matter: keeping your customers at the center of your strategy; continually evolving and strengthening your connection with your customers; and being laser-focused on providing the most relevant experiences to meet your customers where they are,” Jeff Owen, the chief operating officer of Dollar General, wrote in Forbes.

 Keeping customers at the center of retail strategy seems like a no-brainer, but let’s remember that customer needs change. That puts a big emphasis on customer connection and responsiveness. After the City of Baton Rouge requested more access to nutritious, cost-effective foods, Dollar General responded by remodeling two stores in Louisiana’s capital city to deliver more fresh fruits and vegetables to the community. The retailer didn’t stop there: it added fresh produce to approximately 2,000 additional communities across the country during the past year with plans to do the same in up to 10,000 more stores. 

 After more than 20 years of working together, infinitee was proud to help Tanger Outlets adapt to the changing times and consumer preferences. The retailer’s objective of reimagining shopper engagement and striving to attract new and younger consumers as a “customer experience destination” took the form of micro-breweries, gourmet groceries, golf simulators, electric car recharging stations, selfie concepts and even robotic dinosaurs being introduced at Tanger’s 36 locations across North America. The company also became the first outlet developer to hire a fashion director. 

 Owen cites an Accenture study showing that more than 75 percent of business leaders are significantly reconsidering how they engage with their customers. Another 75 percent figure: the portion of Dollar General stores operating in communities of 20,000 or fewer people, not dissimilar to Tanger.

 “It’s important to have a broader appeal to customers across rural, suburban and metropolitan communities alike,” Owen added.

 Broader appeal and connection can be achieved through personalization and customization. As consumer specialist Katie Hardcastle writes, the former allows the retail customer to benefit from a more relevant service and experience delivery, for example, the tailoring of a product offering and leveraging data to provide a more personalized and thus unique shopping experience. Customization is when a shopper can act as designer and his or her choices factor into product enhancement. She cites another Accenture study that found that 91 percent of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that more relevantly engage them, using personalized offers and recommendations to elevate customer experience.

 “If anything, there’s an even greater thirst for unique retail experiences coming out of the pandemic,” said Marcia Homer, infinitee’s Director of Brand Management. “That applies from clicks to bricks and metropolitan to rural locations. Our team’s belief in great ideas, personal touch and endless possibilities is also a great roadmap for the future of retail.”


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