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Many a retailer is baffled about how to do things differently with “their lot.” It takes a brave, imaginative and clever soul to think and move outside their perspective and comfort zone and carve out territory which  goes against the grain of everything they have ever been told. This blog highlights some clever clogs who ignored the naysayers (and I know many of you will highlight all the reasons why they would fail or why you couldn’t …just saying…).

How about kinking your think? 

Deliv

Infrastructure costs and size can make it difficult to compete on a fair playing field with the big boys and be truly frictionless. An example of this is same-day delivery which we don’t see a lot of in this country, yet, A notable exception is online retailer Mighty Ape, who already offer same-day delivery in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The question of how you can compete with the likes of Mighty Ape, Amazon and speciality retailers baffles many antipodean retailers. 

Deliv is a brilliant example of a start-up who has “kinked the think” and changing the playing field in the US.I was fortunate to meet and hear from the founder Daphne Carmeli, a serial silicon-valley entrepreneur, mid -year in San Francisco.

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Deliv (Delivery. Shortened.), is a crowd-sourced model which allows retailers to offer same-day delivery with minimal change to their checkout process. The retailer simply adds a button to their checkout process, mobile app or website and Deliv does the rest.

Based in California, Deliv works currently with more than 100 retailers, large and small including Macy’s and Williams-Sonoma.

The seven day a week service operates on typical retail hours working on the premise that each store in a retailer’s network becomes a distribution point.

Delivery orders are allocated via a centralised app to crowd sourced drivers. Typically they are professional and customer service related people looking to fill in their income stream and include grad students, teachers, real estate agents and actors among their ranks. These drivers undergo background and vehicle checks and a training programme which is backed up with continuous auditing. Paid $12-$15 per hour and reimbursed for fuel, the calibre of drivers ensures a high level of staff retention and, critically, a 99 per cent delivery success rate.

This is purely an on demand delivery service. Deliv is not a destination, nor are they making the transaction, they are not taking the money just doing the delivery and this has significant appeal to retailers. Deliv simply matches the driver to a delivery.

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Via an app, both driver and shopper see the courier information for the optimised delivery routing.

Real time alerts are sent via the app to ensure products are picked up and delivered on time and to the right place, even if needs change while the driver is en route. At the end of the process, customers can rate the drivers and boost their eligibility for more jobs. Retailers pay between $5 and $12 depending on the delivery distance travelled.

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Already a number of mall operators including Westfield, use Deliv. The mall programs offer same-day delivery allowing Bagless Shopping for shoppers who don’t want to carry around bags, at a fee of around $5.

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It’s a smart way for retailer to provide a seamless experience because they are enhancing the journey and not changing the way the shopper transacts with them.

Closing the Gap

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Fostering customer needs at the heart of technological innovation, Gap recently launched a way to give their shoppers first fashion mover advantage through reserve in-store.

As Americans visit the mall less and spend more time online, retailers are under intense pressure to close sales when they finally do get those valuable moments of face-time. That means closing the gap between merchandise displayed online and what’s carried in stores. Sounds simple; in practise quite difficult.

Mid this year, Gap started offering customers the ability to reserve items in stores from the web. Customers could already use the Gap websites to see what stores carried what stock, but now they can hold up to five items at those locations until closing the next day, without any obligation to make a purchase.

Reserve in Store helps the customer know it’ll be worth her getting in the car and driving to the mall, a confidence many of them have been lacking but now the trip from home or work has a guarantee at the end of it. 

Gap’s willingness to offer Reserve in Store adds a layer of risk, but one they think is worth. Let’s say I want to buy a medium denim shirt at Gap, and the only one left in the store is the one I reserved, but I don’t end up purchasing it once I try it on the next day. Gap have lost a sale.

 But in speaking with Gap executives earlier this year in Seattle they believe that listening to their consumer, and creating an experience she likes and that makes shopping easier for her, far outweighs the risk and will actually drive engagement and attachment sales.

Delightful Prey

Shoppers want to feel special and in this price competitive environment they will pay a premium for the ability to customise or buy something slightly more unique. An innovative retailer much closer to home kinked their think in the super competitive shoe market.

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Shoes of Prey is an Australian business where women can create shoes of their own design, which are then custom-made to order and delivered within five weeks of conceptualization. They came to fruition out of the premise that somehow women compromise when searching for the perfect shoe out in the wild; that our ultimate dream shoe lives somewhere inside of us, just waiting to come out

 The shoe style possibilities are endless: sandals, pumps, flats, booties, wedges, platforms. After you decide on the style of shoe, then the true customization begins. Shoes of Prey invites you to consider the details: peep toe, spectator heel, slingback. And more. Heel type and height. Decorations and the fabric. Endless possibilities.

When you are paying between $180-$300 for custom shoes from the site, attention to detail is important. Where Shoes of Prey excel is in attentive customer service.

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The company has also fully integrate video into its mix to simplify the design process. It breaks down perceived barriers of difficulty in designing, showing both the design and the delivery process to build trust and engagement. In addition they have their own YouTube channel where they use topical events to showcase new or relevant products.

 Ever wanted to know how to walk in 6 inch heels. Well Shoes of Prey will help you with that one or even talk you through the process of how the shoes are made.

The result is a strong story with women spending more than 60 million minutes designing tens of millions of shoes.

Shoes of Prey also opened their very first stand-alone shoe boutique within David Jones, Sydney. Here you can book a personal styling appointment where a stylist will guide you through the whole designing process.

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Kinking your thinking around how to engage shoppers and carving out a competitive differentiation isn’t easy. But if you can get to the heart of the shopper need state (or your own need state) then often a really crazy, out there idea may pop up and who knows, you might just nail it.

Kink your think people, kink your think.

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