June 24, 2009

The new face of retail: Personalized service for all

Business as usual just doesn't cut it anymore. The recession has proved to be fertile ground for innovation as lackluster business shift their strategies to keep up with our fast-changing world. According to a recent article in the NY Times, even super-sized Wal-Mart stores is cutting brands and streamlining inventory, while moribund department stores Sears and JC Penney are entering the 20th century by copying Barnes & Noble's longtime innovation of offering in-store customers the use of computers linked to the store's inventory system. If something they're looking for is out of stock, they can place an order right away.

Meanwhile, Macy's has introduced "My Macy's," a system of merchandising that customizes the selection for each individual store by getting input from the people who know best: the sales staff, who know, for example, if strapless dresses are too modest for Salt Lake City's clientele. Saks is going even more custom by installing software that gives salespeople easy access to a database of clients' preferences and earlier purchases, so returning customers can be welcomed with tailor-made service.

Another way to cater to client preferences has been through the internet, where Facebook and Twitter are fast becoming the preferred way for designers and retailers to interact with their clientele, according to a new WWD article. Designers such as Charlotte Ronson and Rachel Roy tweet sales as well as tidbits from their personal lives, putting a more human face on their brands, while the more established Oscar de la Renta and Donna Karan have Twitter feeds written by their PR girls.
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