Every Monday, I profile a person or company doing cool things to market themselves online and offline. Got an idea for me? Let me know!
This Marketing Monday was not inspired by my happening upon something cool in the digital world but something I saw in the real world which reminded me of the power of retail.
One of my friends hosted a girls’ weekend at her place in Vermont these last few days. Besides hanging out and catching up in a general way, we also did a few fun local things, one of them being a visit to King Arthur Flour, seemingly one of the area’s largest employers.
I would like to say I am not a shopper. I am a get in and get out kind of girl when it comes to a retail experience. Also I am not a baker. Stopping at a store that sells flour sounded about as fun to me as visiting the dentist while watching paint dry. But when you’re with friends, you go along with this sort of thing and try to have an open mind.
Twenty minutes later, I was a convert. I left the store with French style flour and a baguette pan. I happily handed over money. King Arthur had successfully made me, a self proclaimed terrible baker, want to make the perfect bread. In my opinion, here’s what King Arthur is doing right:
The employees have a lot of knowledge and experience.
You know when someone says something and you’ve understood each individual word they’ve said but still don’t understand the sentence? That’s how I, a baking novice, felt this weekend when I overheard what people were asking to the staff of the King Arthur Flour (KAF) company store, pleasant looking people milling around the store with aprons on.
The thing was, no question or request seemed to phase them. As a customer, my experience was that the store was staffed by people who actually baked and wanted to help. Neat!
The free samples, cheery displays, and overall setup actually made me want to shop..and want to come back before I even left.
We can talk a lot about how the internet can enhance your storefront but how I felt this weekend reminded me of how there is no substitute for a good retail storefront when you are buying products, especially for us hesitant shoppers.
Taking the time to logically and beautifully lay out a store doesn’t happen by accident. (As evidence to my claim, I think we’ve all been in stores that we wanted to immediately leave without any concrete reason.) KAF made me want to be a baker and buy things to symbolize that, and I think this urge had a lot to do with the store’s physical environment in addition to the staff.
The KAF website carries over the experience of being there.
King Arthur Flour was great but there is no way I can drive to their store very often. How is a happy retail customer to carry on a long distance relationship? I have to like their website.
Many websites don’t feel like being in the stores they are supposed to represent. The KAF website with its recipes and other useful information is not only full of information but has a design consistent with the brand: home-y, country, and a bit old-fashioned.
As a user, I can share my experience.
This afternoon, in between projects, I made French bread. And it was good. (And I’m sorry I ate it all before taking photos of it!) As someone who once messed up cake mix, I wanted to tell everyone my bread was good.
The Baking Circle, King Arthur’s online community, allowed me to tap into the membership portion of the website that has over 100,000 users. Members can post photos, questions, and ideas. In addition to the satisfaction of bragging or getting a question answered, there is additional incentive to sign up for this community for the members-only KAF promotions.
I will say that this part of the website does feel a little clunky compared to the rest of KA’s online presence but it seems to serve the purpose.
King Arthur responds to everyone who writes to them.
Think King Arthur Flour is only paying attention to those high influence internet users? I thought so too, but noticed they replied to a Twitter user who has 12 followers and to one that had over 1,000 within the same five minutes.
From a quick investigation, it doesn’t seem like KFA is playing favorites, which gives everyone a good impression. As someone who doesn’t respond to all my blog comments (though I do read and love all of them!), I am impressed. I wonder how many people are in their PR department handling this…
In short, a good retail store can maintain and extend its following if its website provides additional information and if the website feels like an actual extension of the store, rather than an afterthought. Good job, King Arthur!
Read more about the retail experience at the KAF store on the Cookography blog…
Does your site feel like your store? Know something needs to be improved but aren’t sure what? Contact Breaking Even Communications!