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What do the stores Warby Parker, Apple, Williams-Sonoma, and Nike have in common?

While this seems like a mix of different kinds of retailers, they all do one thing very well. They bring lots of customers through their doors, but don’t use overt product promotion to do it. 

They all create experiences related to their brands that make them central to their customers’ lives and their communities. They give away something of meaning before asking for a sale.

Struggling music stores can learn a lot from these retailers.

In this article, we’ll reveal what leading retailers are doing to build relationships with people in their customer bases to drive traffic to their stores. We’ll also explain how music retailers can do the same.

Warby Parker: Try it, you’ll like it!

Warby Parker is known for its stylish yet affordable eye glasses and unique try it before you buy it business model.

Many eyeglass stores still force people to sit down with a salesperson to try on and purchase frames. This approach often stresses out customers and many come away from the experience feeling pressured to purchase glasses they don’t like or can’t really afford.

Warby Parker changed all that. At first, people were put off by the company’s eyeglass try on free for all. But once people saw the incredible care workers put into cleanliness and hygiene, they got comfortable with the approach. Even during off hours, most Warby Parker stores are filled with people trying on glasses and checking out how they look in them. Most end up buying one or more pairs and leave the store very satisfied.

During the pandemic, Warby Parker was able to recreate its in store experience virtually by allowing people to select up to ten pairs of glasses to try on at home, purchasing the ones they like and returning the rest.

The company is constantly trying new things like adding photo booths in some stores and libraries of books customers can read using their new glasses. All these things are designed to increase engagement with the brand, and they work.

What music stores can learn from Warby Parker: Are you still displaying your instruments like precious artifacts? It’s time to get your customers’ hands on them. It’s the only way they will fall in love with how they sound and feel so they make a purchase.

Apple: Try out tech to understand what makes it different.

It can be challenging to understand the differences among all of Apple’s smartphones, tablets, computers, laptops, and other offerings amidst the constant release of newer, updated models. It’s left most consumers, even Apple fanatics, confused.

It’s why Apple turned its stores into low pressure environments where people can try things out. In most cases, the newer, more expensive models are able to sell themselves. When people are able to actually experience how much faster a newer laptop runs or how much clearer the camera on the latest smartphone is, they understand the value of an upgrade or new technology. While they’re in the store, customers generate buzz about the products, sharing their excitement about them. Customers often sell Apple products to other customers.

What music stores can learn from Apple: Want to upsell musicians to better instrument models? Let shoppers try them out. It’s the only way they’ll understand the value of spending more. While you’re at it, like Apple, encourage your customers to interact with each other. They may sell one another on your products without you having to step in.

Williams-Sonoma: Selling cooking equipment by cooking.

All those gourmet foods and pieces of equipment in the standard cookware or gourmet store can seem overwhelming. The selection leaves many people, even chefs, questioning their value.

It’s why Williams-Sanoma has made product demos and cooking classes central to their business model. When home cooks are able to taste the gourmet foods offered by Williams-Sanoma, they are able to understand the value of spending more on them rather than buying similar, lower-cost things at their supermarket. The same is true of the store’s cooking equipment. When people use a new gadget in a cooking class, they understand its benefits and will shell out for something they’ve never seen before.

What music stores can learn from Williams-Sonoma: Do your customers have a hard time understanding the value of new products, instruments and service offerings? Demonstrate them or let customers try them out. It’s the only way they’ll be able to come to the conclusion that they can’t live without them.

Nike: The pros in relationship marketing.

Nike is committed to two key things:

  1. Delivering engaging experiences in their stores
  2. Supporting sports in the communities where they have retail outlets so they can have a positive impact on the lives of the people living there.

Nike aims to hire most of their employees within a five-mile radius of their shops. They provide them with training so they are able to deliver sports activities to the kids in the area. The firm also awards grants that help finance local sports programs. This transforms Nike from merely being a store and global brand into a vital part of the communities where they do business.

What music stores can learn from Nike: Even though Nike is a global powerhouse, it’s a vital part of every community it does business in. Similarly, music stores must be central to the music scenes of their communities. Why not bring music to schools, community centers, and street fairs? You’ll move your business from being a seller of music related products and services to a beloved brand people care about. As Nike has proved for decades now, people prefer to buy things from businesses they respect and care about. And they’ll pay a premium for the privilege.

The final lesson…

So, in the end, what’s the ultimate takeaway for music store owners from these retailers? Deliver a meaningful experience to your prospects and clients, and sales will take care of themselves.

In order to succeed today, music stores have to build meaningful connections with consumers and become central to their lives. That better positions them to be the music vendor of choice when it comes time to make purchases.