Invisible dollars: Or the Art of Retailing

Where the material ends, art begins. 

This is a quote by Etienne Hajdu, and it reflects his view on sculpting. Retail too, is an art, and we are inclined to forget that sometimes.

Sometimes it is what is NOT there that makes a retail experience memorable. In fact maybe, as alluded in the title, that is really what retail is all about.

In retail we focus on getting the offer right, on getting the prices right and so forth. We focus on the ‘what IS’ to the exclusion of ‘what is NOT’.

By this I mean we consider all the variables of retail and we attempt to manipulate that into something that is unique.

When people buy a product or a service, they do not only pay with money, they pay with many ‘invisible dollars’:

  • ·        They invest their very precious time
  • ·        They risk their reputation
  • ·        The opportunity cost of not pursuing a different product/outcome

Forgetting these invisible payments can cost us dearly.

Similarly, the retailer pays with those same invisible dollars (i.e. indirect costs) for the products. We don’t factor the opportunity cost of the working capital, the risk of obsolescence and damage into our cost of sales.

Forgetting these ‘invisible costs’ can cost us dearly.

But more importantly, how can you improve the customer experience by taking things away rather than adding it? It is human nature to want to add/grow/improve and it does not come naturally to prune or backburn.

We have found that we have to build these checkpoints into our Customer Experience Design initiatives by conscious effort to make sure we keep things simple and that we remember the value of the unseen.

Because, more often than we would care to admit, getting out the way of the customer is more valuable than the alternative.