Essay: Retail Marketing Analysis

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[. . .] The store layout also influences how customers move around the store and which pieces of merchandise they notice first. Several alternative store layouts may be used including the grid layout, the boutique layout, the free-flow layout and the controlled flow layout (Okonkwo 2007, p. 82.)

Upon my visit to the Zara store I found that the store uses the free-flow layout to achieve its strategic goals. The merchandise was displayed on racks and hangers at various points in the store. Some products like shoes, bags and hats were also placed on shelves. Tables were also used at various points throughout the store to display folded clothes. There was a lot of space to walk around comfortably and to see the various merchandise on display. I found that the merchandise was sorted and arranged according to the personality of the buyer. For instance, the winter wear and dark-colored skirts were placed in a separate portion of the store and the colorful and bright outfits for younger customers were placed in a separate area of the store. Semi-formal and casual clothes were also places separately. One area was designated for footwear while bags and hats were displayed throughout the store on shelves above the clothes display unit.

This layout allowed customers to walk around freely and come into contact with other items similar to what they are looking for more often. For instance, someone who wanted to buy a red colored top could also find stoles and trousers nearby to go with it. He or she would not be distracted by a long overcoat on the nearby shelf.

Merchandise Display and Showcasing

I spoke to a few shoppers and they were of the opinion that the merchandise was displayed attractively and it was easy to find what they were looking for. The merchandise was arranged neatly and was visible clearly to all shoppers. A combination of racks, shelves, hangers and tables was used. This created variety and was also inviting for shoppers to visit the different types of display units to compare the merchandise. The tables, in particular, invited more interaction with the merchandise since they were easy to unfold and try out compared with merchandise hung on the hangers for which the shoppers had to take them out of the hanger and were uncomfortable with taking it out and then putting it back on the hanger after trying it out.

Customer Service and Facilitating Services

The customer services of any retail organization plays an important part in its success. Having an effective and sound customer services strategy can help to distinguish the shopping environment and retailing experience for the shopper. The retailer has to find ways of encouraging shoppers to visit the store again and again by making the experience an enriching and useful one. The customer services of any retail firm affect how easily the shopper is able to find the merchandise he or she wants, how easily he or she is able to find alternatives for comparison and make purchase decisions. The customer service personnel need to be in a position that they are able to provide the most updated and accurate information about the merchandise to the customer. This increases the credibility of the retailer and encourages customers to visit again and again.

For Zara, this is a very crucial part of its retail management strategy because the success of its business model depends on the high traffic of customers and repeat visits by them several times during a month. The level of customer service decides whether the customer is satisfied enough to visit the store a second or a third time to view the merchandise on offer.

I found the customer service professionals at Zara to be highly informed and courteous. They were not interfering and gave the customers free space to move around and view the merchandise. At the same time, they were accessible and available whenever a shopper needed any information about the sore, the merchandise or the price of the merchandise. They also guided the people about where they could find related merchandise and about new merchandise that would be available in the coming days.

Facilitating services are also important for any retailer. These services include assistance in shopping, bagging, taking the purchased items to the car of the customer, accepting credit cards and cheques, and so on. These facilitating services help to augment the service that the retailer actually provides. The actual or core product is the fashion merchandise that other stores may copy or replicate. However, the facilitating services offered by a retailer impart a human element to the shopping experience and can differentiate the retailer form others. In fashion retailing it is important that the self-image and esteem of the customer be enhanced after the retailing experience. This means that customer service and facilitating services should play their part in making the customer feel pleased and delighted after the experience.

Zara provides several facilitating services. They accept most of the credit cards that foreigners like me can carry with them. I also saw the manager of the store offer to walk with one customer to the door with her shopping. I was later informed y the customer service professional that this was a regular shopper and had been visiting the Zara store for several years.

Store Formats and Locations

The store format and location is extremely important for a retailer and decisions about store format and location have to be made with regard to the shopping and buying habits of the target market segment. In the fashion retail industry, customers like to be delighted and feel flattered about how they look. Not only the merchandise but also the location and format of the store influence their esteem and decided whether they feel good about themselves. The evolution of the retail industry has changed the focus of location from suburban areas to city centers. The store formats have varied from department stores to supermarkets, hypermarkets and even trends of specialized stores like Home depot which specializes in home improvement equipment and IKEA that specializes in affordable furniture.

For a fashion retailer like Zara it is important that the store format be appealing to the target market and should convey the brand image. Zara stands for high quality trendy fashion. Therefore, it should be located in an upscale environment. The store has adopted the boutique format of the specialized store and offers fashionable clothing for children, men and women of all ages. The store format allows the clothes to be displayed attractively and by making the best use of the available space. The boutique format allows the customers to make their purchases single-mindedly without being distracted by other product categories as in a department store or a supermarket. They can browse a greater range of merchandise in a calm and comfortable environment.

The location of the store is also important in determining whether the target market segment prefers to visit the store and is able to do it conveniently (Zentes et al. 2011, p. 203). While other retailers may be present in areas out of the city, a fashion retailer like Zara needs to be located close to the urban area because customers need to visit it more frequently to buy the latest fashionable clothes. This is why Zara locates all its stores in the busy shopping districts of the city center.

The Zara store I visited in Lithuania was in the busy commercial port city of Klaipeda and the store was located in a large shopping center called the Akropolis (Akropolis 2012). There were over 200 stores in the shopping center which invited a lot of shoppers throughout the day. A large volume of customers visiting the Zara store daily is necessary or it to achieve its high turnover targets and sustain its business model economically. Being situated in a large shopping centre where thousands of customers visit each day increases the probability of them visiting Zara to make their regular fashion purchases.

Pricing Strategy and Tactics

The pricing strategy is important for any retailer because it determines the sales turnover which is the main factor in the economical success of its business model. The pricing strategy for a mass retailer would be different from that of a specialist retailer. Zara does not fit neatly into any of the two categories but combines them effectively to create a niche for itself in the market.

Despite being in the fashion retail industry, Zara charges low prices for its exclusive designs. The designs are held for only a very short time and quickly replaced by new designs. For this business model to succeed, Zara needs to have high sales turnover so that the store does not get left with unsold stocks of designs that may not be relevant for the next season. One way of achieving the high sales turnover is through the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Retail Marketing Analysis.  (2012, May 9).  Retrieved May 21, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/retail-marketing-analysis/7091569

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