Analyst Corner

What Retailers Must Steal From Disney

Categories: Retail, Unified Commerce

It used to be that consumers HAD to go shopping.  But in our time-starved world, with the likes of Amazon delivering not just in 2 days but even in 1 hour, retailers must give consumers a reason they WANT to shop in their stores. To do so, retailers must transform the shopping experience and make the stores inviting places to come. Who does that better than anyone? Disney.

There are three things that Disney does better than anyone else that retailers can copy.

  • Remove the friction – This starts with the Disney Magical Express for anyone staying on-property or taking a cruise. Your bags get checked at your departing airport and they show up in your room, so once you hit Orlando you are not dealing with luggage. This idea is extended further during shopping at the parks and resorts. If you buy something while there, you have 4 options. You can take your purchase with you, you can pick it up at the park exit when you leave, you can have it delivered to your hotel room if staying on property, or you can have it shipped home. Mall-based retailers can greatly enhance the shopping experience and opportunity by offering similar options. Take it with you, pick up at the mall exit of your choice (when you are finished shopping other stores), have it delivered locally later that day, or have it shipped to someone else.
  • Everyone is a Cast Member – Perhaps the number one complaint we hear from consumers (beyond simply lack of time to shop) is how uninviting store personnel are when they get to the store. Most experiences range from “you are interrupting me” to “I could care less who you are or why you are here.” This is a HUGE problem. At Disney, every associate is a cast member, and it is drilled into them that they are part of a bigger play. I am a firm believer that retailers should be recruiting in high school drama departments. You may not think that your store is a show or entertainment, but you do need to think of it as an experience. How your people conduct themselves in meeting the needs of customers is critical to your future survival. Stack ‘em high and watch ‘em fly won’t work anymore. Anyone that has ever been in a Publix supermarket knows that their employees are just friendlier than their competition; this is part of the reason Publix makes 5x the profit of the average supermarket. Chick-Fil-A constantly rates as the leader among fast food outlets for the same reason…their employees are friendlier, they have a heart to serve the customer, and they seem truly thankful that you are there. We can talk about systems and unified commerce all day long, but if the people part of your stores remain uninviting, your store traffic will continue to erode and business will decline.
  • Create the WOW experience – One of the key things that Disney has introduced in recent years is the Disney Band. Designed primarily to reduce friction in the transaction and ride experiences, Disney uses it to create the WOW for people in the parks. Now the band is undoubtedly a treasure trove of data on the consumer, but Disney has done an excellent job of leveraging it to connect with the most important customers at the park, namely, little kids. Disney once did personalization through smoke and mirrors with the character meet and greet. The parents would tell a cast member the child’s name, that cast member would tell the character, and the character would respond to the child. Now, however, you can be walking through the park, turn a corner, and Elsa greets your daughter by name because of the proximity of the RFID tag in the band. Instead of using the information for creepiness, it truly creates a WOW experience that is seared in everyone’s memory – adults included. Retailers must employ similar tactics. The technology is available to know who the customer is that comes in the door, what level of customer they are, and what they have been searching for online or on their mobile device. Now, there is a fine balance between being creepy and leveraging that data for sales success, but once again it is a training issue. The sales associate that has help in anticipating a customer’s need, can do so in a friendly way, and owns the responsibility for that customer’s experience can create the WOW required to keep that customer coming back.

So steal these three things from Disney….Remove the friction, everyone is a cast member, and create the WOW….and make a great customer experience in your stores.