Friday 7 August 2015

Tradition or Convenience - Which Will Save QVM?

Convenience is a very important ingredient of modern retailing and, whilst QVM has some wonderful unique traditions, some things need to be changed.

U.S. Retail giant Target is testing in store beacons that will allow them to position individual customers and send them targeted messages related to stock in their vicinity. So customers are being fed information in a way undreamed of just a few short years ago. Back in the good old days, customers had to find their own way to desired purchases but now they are invited to plan their shopping trip with a bit of online searching, visit likely outlets, and be directed to their purchase once they get there. It is all about ease and convenience.

"We move around like stones in a concrete mixer."

Compare that with QVM. Customers can check out the QVM website for possible leads, even get names of traders, but the whole system breaks down once they get here. Does anybody outside traders or management really understand the shed identification system? Do our signs really help? Is it practical to ask customers to "Ring the office for today's trader location"? And if a customer does purchase from a trader, what are the chances of finding them again the next day. The recent issue of moving traders at the top end of E shed showed that just 10 or so stall positions impacted on 38 different traders. We move around like stones in a concrete mixer.

"How long have you been here?"

It can be argued that finding traders is less of an issue for tourists. They probably have few pre-conceived ideas of where traders are, and are generally in a more relaxed shopping mood. They are more inclined to wander at leisure to find what they want. But that doesn't apply to locals. Locals are much more focussed on getting what they want, as soon as they can get it, even if just to avoid  car parking fees. Many traders will have been asked "How long have you been here?" by long term customers who have simply walked down a different aisle on their way to a market destination and discovered you for the first time. If you are not in that same spot next time they come, then the chain is broken, probably irretrievably.

"confusing customers has little traditional merit"

We can not ignore the fact that "shopper convenience" is a modern retail essential. QVM has some wonderful traditions many of which need to be retained. Our fresh offer, unique architectural environment, and personal customer attention are great attractions, but confusing customers has little traditional merit and we need to find a better way. Car parking and trading hours are considered two of the most important issues for traders to address during market renewal but convenient way-finding needs to be up there as well. To summarise, we need -
   1.     Better signage.
   2.     Better electronic map finding and direction.
   3.     More permanent stall positions.