The Value of Emotional Retail Management

Managers in Brand Retail love to use diverse technologies to analyse store performance. But what about the value of switching to an emotional perspective from time to time?

Imagine, you’re responsible for a small number of local stores, or even a large number of global stores. As the Head of Your Department, you play an important role in your company and your sponsors measure your success in how efficiently you manage your duties. Transparency and comparability would be the buzzwords to focus on in your store analysis. The smarter the tools you use, and the more figure-puzzling to employees, the more brilliant your quarterly presentation would seem to the board .

Much wow! Let’s call this the Screen Perspective.

The Screen Perspective

In contemporary large retail enterprises, managers who live and celebrate the Screen Perspective, are common. In management positions, they are to large extents more common than natural born retailers who just love the stage. You can identify the screen managers on the sales floor very easily, if you’re lucky enough to spot on there. You’ll find them sneaking around the fixtures and displays, hiding from customer contact. This is a situation I have myself experienced in the store of a global fashion chain (that I like a lot): I asked the guy, ‘May I ask you something about this jacket?’ And ‘Sorry, I’m just responsible here’ was the answer he gave, without so much as looking at me.

He was quite likely a typical manager with Screen Perspective. I assume he might be a good manager in the market research business, or at NASA. In live retail, however, he’s lost, and you can feel it. He may even have felt it himself. Would you say this kind of culture clash doesn’t happen in your company? On a scale from 1 to 10, how certain are you?

Emotional Shopping

An Emotional Perspective in shopping (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Emotional Perspective

Retail stores are far too valuable to relinquish to remote-controlled floor planning. Doing so represents a major and tragic misunderstanding between the brand retail industry and their most important co-player, the customer. Retail stores need management with an Emotional Perspective. Let me put it this way: To me stores are like human beings. They need to breathe, sweat, and learn. They have to live inspiration along with their customers, to be open enough to learn from input, directly and locally. To improve, stores need to be challenged and receive feedback. And to be authentic, they need passionate retailers to run them.

You think so too? Let’s return to your imagined management role with, say, 1.000 outlets in your responsibilty, or just 10. What have you done lately to transfer an Emotional Perspective on your stores and into your board’s mindset? How many excursus about ‘how our customer really feels in our stores’ have you added to the long list of impressive (or depressive) figures and KPI’s in your latest presentation?

It may be a question of your individuality, courage, and creativity. But if it is not you who understands and pushes the heartbeats of your retail stores, no one will – with the exception of the brand consulting agency whose analysis of boring, economically decreasing stores may one day cost you your position. Stores in brand retail are no longer a necessity for providing products; their only remaining mission is to attract and inspire customers. And that doesn’t work from a laptop in the back office. Sorry for not being the bearer of better news.


About the author:
Alexander wants to encourage retailers to rethink of what they are doing and strive for a new role of retail stores in an overloaded market. He founded the Slowretail Blog back in 2007 and is regularly booked as a speaker in the brand retail industry. You can best reach him via LinkedIn or personal mail.

(Top pictures source: Wikimedia Commons)

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