6 Key Areas To Maximize To Bring In Customers – James Cook

James cook rec



“People do not buy goods and services, they buy relations, stories and magic!"



  • What is the first dimension of retail experience? [11:25]
  • The second dimension [12:08]
  • The third dimension [14:55]
  • The fourth dimension [19:29]
  • How do you think we can bring personalization in store? [23:56]
  • The fifth dimension of retail experience [28:19]
  • What's the number six thing that we're looking at to increase our customer footfall without in-store experience? [34:48]


Salena: Hey there and welcome to this week's episode of The bringing business to retail podcast. Driving traffic to your store can be such a difficult thing. So I thought who better to tell us about how we can do that but ...head of retail research James Cook welcome to the show James

James: I am so happy to be here. Thank you for having me. This is going to be a lot of fun.

Salena: I'm very I'm very grateful that you've come home because you guys have had so much research, you have so much data that you can actually share with the listeners that perhaps maybe they think is a little bit out of their league because you deal with big shopping centers and you deal with real estate agents who fill these kinds of centers. And as a result you have a lot of information a lot of inside information that can help our retailers get their customers to come in store. So thank you I'm really grateful that you'll come in to share this information with us.

James: Yeah I'm happy to be here. And you're right. Most of our insights come from working with top retailers around the world but they're all applicable to any retailer.

And so what is the biggest thing that you find when you go like, what do you look for when you go into a shopping center. What is your what is your thing that just makes you think wow they stand out?

James: Yeah I mean well there's a whole range of things so we are our latest report we did was on how retailers create a retail experience and we actually identified six different dimensions of retail experience. And I can talk a little bit more about some of them or all of them. Depends on where we go but each dimension you could think of it as an opportunity to win a customer that's what it's really all about. So to give you one example one dimension is like how intuitive a store is. And it's really simple like you walk in can you find what you're looking for. And I don't know about in Australia but here in the U.S. we have these huge huge big box stores. Where the signage is not that fantastic. It is not intuitive. And not only that but there's not really many store associates around to tell you where to go. That's just an example. So that's just one example of where a store might not be intuitive. Now I'm assuming that a lot of the folks that you work with the stores aren't huge but there are still ways that you can organize a store. So you know if there are things that people are always coming in to look for you know you want to have those in a prominent location. For example something as simple as that.

Salena: I'll just jump in quickly there because I would love to hear about all 6 if you have time to tell us. But the question I get asked over and over again even on a daily basis is, should we put the sale rack at the front or the sale rack at the back?

James: Oh it's the great debate isn't it? Do you want you know, clearly if the sale goods will just draw them in at the back of the store and again here's something I don't know how this goes in Australia but in the States the great debate in grocery stores is where to put the milk. Because everybody comes in for the milk. Some grocery stores are like well we want them to come in and know it's right out front. Others say we should put it in the back. I think in the grocery world people are realizing they probably want it in the back because you want people to go to the store. So anyway to your question I put the sale items in the back as long as we know as long as the customers are aware that they're in there because everything is about increasing well    time. Right. And the longer the isle time the more sales that we'll have.

Salena: Yes. And I think that's where a lot of people get caught up in they should I put it out the front and I put it at the back. There's nothing stopping you from doing both. Right. Like you can draw the mean and you can say we have we have more down the back. But I'll agree that you look to the big stores they've paid millions of dollars sometimes for the research and if they're putting it at the back and Australia the milk is always at the back. To me that's a pretty good indication that those well sort over, those ... items should be where they have to walk through the store in order to get to them.

James: Yeah absolutely. And you do want to make sure though we're talking about set sale items you want to make sure people are aware that they're there you don't want them hidden in the back so some kind of teaser up front be at a smaller display that can be seen from you know bypass or buyer or signage or something you know that they're coming in and then they know to come in the store and then they're drawn to go into the back to those sale items.

Salena: Ok. All right. So first I mentioned looking for a good store. Is it intuitive. Can we find the thing just on that. Why so many big bookstores had it like that?

James: Oh it's all about money. It's just all about money. You have to save money somewhere and to create. You've got a huge store you've got so much so many goods for sale in that store there is no easy way to create a store map or signage. So what you really need is lots of associates to tell people where to go. right. Especially when you're a big discounter and you're selling things are the real thin profit margin. It just makes it really difficult.

Salena: Interesting interesting. OK. Second dimension.

James: Human meaning. Do you have a human genuine interaction with a human associate. So this is the thing that's lacking you know in the intuitive that we're talking about and I always like one of my favorite examples here in the States we have a chain of grocery stores is called Trader Joe's.  OK good. You know all about T.J's So for anybody who's listening who hasn't been, they're smaller format grocery stores and they're always mobbed they're highly they're very popular. They mostly only sell private label goods so they have a lot of stuff that you can't get anywhere else. But the thing with Trader Joe's is they're not really great at fast checkouts. The are always long. It's slow. Yet they're always mobbed. And people love going there and people are true Trader Joe brand loyalists. And one of the key differentiators that Trader Joe hire's specifically on the personalities of people.  They don't test people for how good they are stocking shelves or how good they are how fast they're checking people out they're like we just want the nicest people who will stop stocking shelves and start having a great conversation with you. And that's the reason.

Salena: knew I love them for a reason.

James: Right. Yeah and that's great human interaction that you know a lot of big chains are really missing. It's tough to figure that out.

Salena: Yeah well I mean I love that because I do the same thing I always say Hyrum personality. You can always teach somebody something and to be honest especially in sales you don't even need to be a great salesperson if you're a great connector. Because we are about emotion if you like the person, if you can just innately like the person who's trying to sell that thing to you then you're going to buy it just because they know us and they were helpful. So that's interesting to me. I did I didn't know that and I have to say I love Trader Joe's way more than Whole Foods and maybe that's the reason why maybe just subconsciously we actually are relating to what it is they're trying to sell. And this is I think one of the big things that independent retailers can do so much better than the big boxstores is once they might have one or two people in their store you give your customers attention. No matter how busy it is you always just hop between the people to develop that connection. Just another way that we can be better than the big box stores.

James: Yeah I mean who is going to be more passionate that independent retailer where it's their own business or some you know manager who you know it's just a job for them. So yeah it's a great opportunity.

Salena: Okay. We weren't even going to dig into this deep but we're doing really well so can we keep going.

James: Yeah. Love it. Sounds great. Okay so yeah. Another one is meaningful. How meaningful. And this is I think another edge that your independent retailer has. So what this means is when you shop there do you have a sense of pride, do you walk away feeling good about yourself. And that's a real edge the independent retailers because we all kind of want to root for the underdog. You know and we see it as a David and Goliath story store. Now David and Goliath story we're talking about stores.  And I know that you know I live in a small town and I will go to my local coffee shop even go out of my way to go there because I want to support them and I want them to be successful and I feel good.

You know it's a meaningful interaction.

Salena: I think on top of that when it comes to meaningful sometimes it goes back to those first two. If you can develop the connection with the sales associate and if everything is intuitive or the person is willing to help you.  You go away feeling really satisfied that you bought the thing that is the best for you. Whereas when you go into a big box store, when you go there, the bright lights are on everything's chrome and shiny and you picking up the boxes and you're looking at them going, is this the thing I want is the thing that's going to help me. You ask a sales associate they just read off the side of the box just like I could have done that myself. Whereas when you go into an independent store the person is generally trying to sell you what you need rather than what you want.

James: Yeah absolutely. I mean coming out of a shopping experience at a typical big box store I always you know best case scenario is I escaped a battle without too many injuries you know it's like a transaction occurred and it didn't take me too long. Which is totally different from you know visiting an independent retailer and you know learning new stuff talking to new people and having that meaningful experience.

Salena: I'll just put it this put an example in here. Here in Australia we have a hardware story called Bunnings.  A kind of like home depot. And I have the greeter at the door who really doesn't care about saying hello. He's just there or she's just there because they make him be there. We call them really helpful unhelpful people. So they do occasionally have sales associate. Never when you're looking for them and then you ask them. And the answer they will give you would be so unhelpful but they really passionate about the answer that they gave you. You just walk away. Thanks. But that didn't help me. And I was reading just the other day that the average sale is it's kind of like I ok you go in there for some bolts and you come out with patio furniture. The average sale is a hundred and twelve dollars in a hardware store like that is huge. Like I appreciate that they've got trade customers and people do go into buying big expensive things but I just wanted some 3m hooks. Why am I spending 50 dollars like I don't know how they managed to do it. But every time I go there I walk away just thinking like I don't understand how. And in fact my daughter who's 9 turning 10 every weekend she's like Bunnings again. It's no fun for her. It's not even a fun trip. Like I say it would be a fun trip but it's a utilitarian trip. But every time I go there it does seem like you know you're exhausted before you even get there

James: Yeah yeah absolutely they're... And you know I'm not really I don't want to be perceived as just bashing all big box retail because I think a lot of stores get it pretty well. I mean there are multiple chains here in the U.S. not to be confusing but we have a target that's different than your target. I believe. because I think Target is you know big box retail but does a good job at wayfinding. They do a good job at hiring good staff. You know there are others to another chain that we have as best buy which is an electronics store.


Salena: The sales are really good.

James: That's what's great about Best Buy is that they hire to put it bluntly, they hire geeks. So yeah and it really works every time I have an issue you know with my phone or some device best buy for me as a is first stop.

Salena: Yeah and we always use the example that we always love Anthropology and obviously same company but `an outfit is doing really well as well. I think underarmor is doing a really good job as you know. We're not saying that they're bad. The good thing about it is being able to look at what the big companies are doing and saying I really like that about them, what they're missing is humanity. We can take all of that and intersperse it into our businesses and make our businesses even better. And I think that's one of the key issues that the independent retailers have is I think they have to compete with the big box stores. But what you're saying is if we can nail basic things that you're sharing with us. So far we've got the intuitive, humanity and the meaningful and you've got to give it the other three. If we can all those things then customers are going to want to come and spend money with us. You know it's kind of a no-brainer. So thank you for sharing these. Hurry up to number four.

James: Okay this is another one that independent retailers could do a great job at. It is about being personalized. So offering personalized service that's tailored to the specific shopper needs. And this is also the category so when we did our survey we surveyed 2000 shoppers and asked them what they wanted and then what they were getting. And the biggest shortfall the biggest gap was around personalization. Everybody wanted it but not nearly as many retailers were offering it as shoppers wanted. And there's a lot I mean there's lots of great examples around personalization. If you're an independent retailer it's getting to know your customer and you walk in the door and you say oh I know you know what kind of shirts they like or I know what kind of chocolates they like and just kind of offering it off the bat. There's an example a bigger retailer. You know Mooji. OK. So Mooji is from Japan and they do have some locations in Australia although I don't remember where off the top of my head but they are like a cross. They're like cross. They're like part like sort of like the Japanese IKEA in a way. So they have furniture but they also have clothing and all kinds of stuff and their aesthetic is very scaled back and modern and utilitarian.

James: They're great stores really really cool stores and they opened up a few years ago they opened up a flagship store in New York City on Fifth Avenue and they like to talk about that because they did such a good job with personalization.  So you can go in and for example they have these different fragrances that you can purchase and they have a fragrance lab so you can you know like as a mixologist do these bespoke fragrances and they have this embroidery station where if you buy clothing then you can have it custom embroidered right there in the store and they have this thing. Yeah they have this thing called the rubber stamp bar so they also sell lots of envelopes and paper and paper bags and stuff like that. And you can customize it all with all these rubber stamps that they have. So it's you know it's a little bit gimmicky right. But it's really cool like you come away with this you know personal you know having the ability to personalize the things that you buy.

Salena: So that's a really good question because when you said personalization I didn't think you meant that kind of personalization you know monogramming something. I thought you meant personalization more along the lines of making sure that what I'm looking for is what I'm getting. So for example, if we sent out an e-mail it's tailored to what I like rather than an e-mail blast. So is this personalization the actual thing to be able to put my stamp on it that's really important at the moment.

James: Yeah. And your example is also part of it I just pointed to an in-store experience but in the digital world my gosh I am looking for any reason to ignore your communication with me. Right. And in whatever electronic form it is because I got so many coming in. But if it is personalized to me and it has information that I really care about like I will stop and pay attention.  So absolutely.

Salena: And I think one of the things just to take it a little bit off course is if you know that when the e-mail comes it is always filled with what you're looking for. So here in Australia, we the grocery stores have their loyalty card I'm sure you have the same thing. And then they send you specials but their specials are the things you've already bought in the past. And sometimes it will have I can't eat, 8 weeks or gluten-free.  So it will say you know I'll get the promotions that new gluten-free thing that you might be interested in. So that is tailored like my husband's not going to get that because he's not gluten-free so he never buys anything gluten-free. So that to me means that I'll actually open it because I know that those things have been chosen for me. There's nothing worse than getting an e-mail and saying it's got kids stuff when you haven't got kids or it's got guy stuff. I mean if you're in a relationship and you don't plan for your partner. So I think that, how do you think we can bring that in store?

James:  Wow. Yeah. Well I mean; if you want to talk about the latest in technology there's some really interesting stuff going on right now.  I think of in the U.S. we have a there's a growing Candy chain called Lolli and pops. And first off it's a super cool store. They design them so it feels like kind of like an apothecary. Wow. So really cool feeling their deal is.  They have the best candies from around the world. So I don't know what the best candy is from Australia but I'm sure that they'll have that they'll have like you know Pez dispensers and all kinds of stuff it's a real experience. They have a loyalty club and you know if you're a member of the loyalty club they'll track you know what you like. And when you go into the store. This is the thing that some people are a little weird about if you opt in for it. They're trialing facial recognition. So when you walk in the store then one of the associates will be alerted. Oh we've got a value club member in the store and you know his name is James and he likes dark chocolate or he likes peanut butter or something. And so they'll know who you are and they'll be able to use technology to personalize it to you. I'm ambivalent about that.

Salena: I ws going to say it's a little bit creepy but it's also super cool.

James: Yeah yeah. Now this is cutting edge stuff so most of the folks that you work with and listeners to this show you know what I would just encourage you to start some kind of loyalty club and the technology is out there where anybody can do it.

Salena: Yes yes. And one of the things that we used to do in our store is, because we were a little store in a small suburb with a great big shopping mall. But if we knew that if someone had come in and said It's my kid's birthday party we would keep a little just in our notebook. We'd say you know Jimmy's birthday party. And when people would come in and we knew it was a present because it was one of the questions we would ask.  We would just put into the conversation. Oh who's the lucky birthday girl or boy? And he fakes said Gemma. We'd be like right. Just in the background writing down what was bought because what we would find is then poor Gemma's mom would come in with three of the same thing because we would; you know before we started doing this we would recommend the best thing for that kid and we knew it was just the same thing over and over again. We didn't know which child it was going to. So when we; then the poor mom had come back going. I got three of the same thing you guys are really good sales people but I don't need three. So we would just swop them out so we just kind of in the background sort of keeping these little lists which was if it's for Gemma. Just write down and then you can go and have a look it's actually someone's already got her that. But you could get these to go with it. And again it's a little bit creepy stalkery. But as a customer you really really appreciate that you appreciate the fact that you're not giving someone two of the same thing.

James: Yeah and it's not. I think it's creepy when it's like like it's Big Brother like there's some company watching you. But if you're an independent store owner taking notes in a notepad There's nothing creepy about that. I think that's just good advice.

Salena: Well I'm glad that you like it because the customers definitely liked it. All right. So where are we up to we are up to number five.

James: Yeah. Wow. OK. So this one is all about accessibility and you know there's physical accessibility meaning it's just easy to physically walk through this store and that is also you know accessibility for everyone. So the aisles are wide so if you use a wheelchair to get around for example. But then beyond that, it's accessibility across all platforms. So you know can I shop at your store in person. Can I shop on the Web? If I pull up your website on my phone does it look good? You know on mobile those kinds of things.

Salena: Yes.  I interviewed a blind person who was coming on the show in a couple of weeks and we were talking about how difficult it can be for him to read a Web site. And it was a little bit more fun. I have to I never really thought about it at all. I hope you haven't been to my Web site and it's not terrible. But he was saying where they find issues is that when things change he said Facebook are terrible at changing the layout. And so it can sometimes take you half an hour after the change to work out how to read it and I think when you are completely able bodied it's not that you're insensitive to other people. It's just that those things don't cross your mind. And so with my store but also as a new mum that pushing a stroller could be really difficult.  And in our store we get a lot of people with double strollers so trying to get them through the door because there's a little bit of a right angle to get in the door could be really difficult. So it's like what can you do to minimize those sorts of things because the last thing you want is someone having to leave something outside just to be able to walk into your store. And with accessibility do you think that has anything to do with how you merchandise your store?

James: In the fact that it; you know if you have like high items and you're short person you might not be able to reach them. That type of thing or...

Salena: Well I was just asking from all your experience because you've seen a lot of stores. When you're looking at accessibility are there any things that stand out in terms of merchandising and that is one of them. I'm a 5 foot 7 and sometimes I can't reach those things you know on that when they have to rails. And I'm like I'm not sure but I still can't reach those things at the top. And there's nothing worse than having to ask somebody to get something down for you.

James: Yeah I mean for me when I think about accessibility I've done a lot of work looking at the Baby Boomer generation here in the states and you know they're  in retirement age now and as they get older this is our biggest generational cohort that is becoming older and our stores need to be adapted to fit you know easy to navigate not having lots of inclines if you're using a wheelchair easy to get around. And the cool thing about store design is if you design your store to be accessible to you know folks who use wheelchairs or folks who are elderly the knock-off is it gets easier to navigate for everybody. So it's like a win for everybody.

Salena: There's nothing worse when they're in the grocery store and literally you can't walk pass because two people; one person is coming down and one person is coming up and you're just there with your one thing and you can't actually get through because you know the aisles aren't wide enough.

James: Yeah. Yeah absolutely. And it's almost like stores were designed to pack in as much product as possible. And we're in an era now where more is not better when it comes to physical stores.  You want less goods and not always order it online.  So it's not as important.

Salena: Yes and I think if you have too much of something then making a choice is too difficult. Like you go in and you;  like when you go to a restaurant and there are 50 things on the menu. My daughter loves the cheesecake factory and you go there. And there are literally pages and pages and pages and pages and pages and you just think I'll just get the burger. I just can't think about all these other things.

James: Yeah, It's a joke for folks who haven't been. It's like a novel man. Their menu, to their credit, everything on that menu is delicious but it is tough to make a decision.

Salena: It is being gluten-free. They make a gluten free burger so I'm always happy about that. We love burgers in our house.  But my daughter is, to be honest, she only ate two things she ate the mac and cheese and she ate the bow ties with Parmesan but just you'll sit there and have a look and see if there's anything is a good five minutes in just reading the menu. And of course then we've got three pages of cheesecakes to go with it.

James: So many cheesecakes so many.

Salena: I always think when I go there that how much quicker could they order it. Like could the whole prices be if you didn't give someone 12 pages of food to look at.

James:  Yeah that's a great point.  But you've waited; that cheese cake is notorious for the wait to get a table. So I I think after you've waited that long you really want to luxuriate you know to take your time and really just chill out and read your book of a menu for a while. And not be rushed.  Right. Yeah. Delicious bread as well. I've been listening to that cheesecake podcast.

Salena: Well I remember the Cheesecake Factory for the lovely cheesecakes and things. Before I discovered I couldn't eat wheat. And now I just look at them and I have one gluten free option which is the Godiva cheesecake. And so I can't also eat a lot of dairies so what I do is I buy that and then I give it to my daughter and then I just take the little bit off the end so I can feel like I had something. Anyway. No, I'm talking about food. OK. Number 6. What's that number six thing that we're looking at to increase our customer footfall without in-store experience?

James: I save my favorite for last this is immersive. So this is creating a captivating environment that people really find enjoyment and there are so many great examples of this. Have you ever been to a Chelsea Market in New York City?

Salena: No

James: It's a former Nabisco factory that was turned into a huge; It's an office complex above but on the ground floor. It's all this retail and the way they have to design it; it's like you're kind of transported into another land. It's got such a great sort of Fantasyland feel. I was with somebody and they felt like they were in like a Harry Potter book or something and it's kind of difficult to describe. But giving people the opportunity to be transported to another world is something that you know not every retailer can afford to do. You know if you're really if you're a value proposition is cheap things you can't really afford to have a cool in-store feel you know have this captivating environment. But it's something that if you can do it, it really,  people would just be drawn to escape there every day.

Salena: Yeah, where could we find some photos off the web and put them on the site because it sounds fantastic. I went to a point Malema, one of those two over in San Diego and it's an old naval barracks and they've transformed one of the buildings into I guess you'd call it a free court. They put all different types of food stands in there but it's that kind of the experience is going in there feeling like you are in a market but you've also got the history of the naval buildings and there's a little comics store, a little pop store and I walked in there and it just it all added to the experience. And I think immersive even something as simple as having a great scent when you walk in like is it burning a candle or having some sort of aroma that comes in.  Because we all love walking past a bakery with the smell we all love walking past the chocolate shop with the smell or a spy store with even coffee. You know I don't like coffee but I love the smell of coffee. So that immediately has an emotional effect which is what we talked about right back at the beginning having that trigger in your brain because your brain associates that with really nice stuff you know really good feelings.  So I think immersive is fantastic and like you said you don't have to go to the eighth degree but even just implementing one or two things that make somebody feel like they're escaping can do wonders for your sales.

James: Yeah, and you're point about the aroma is so well taken. Smell short circuit, all the frontal lobe of your brain and you go back right to your most emotional part of your brain. If I walk outside and smell new cut grass, I'm ten years old again. Instantly, there are certain smells that are so nostalgic and if as a retailer you can purchase different fragrances. If you can figure our one has an association, a nostalgic association or a positive association with the shopper. I mean it's not that expensive but it's a really interesting thing you can do for a full experience.

Salena: What you say kind of overload or overwhelm everything else that's going on in the rain. Because I didn't know that. But you're right. I'm just thinking that, the smell of a cetain flower, and I can't even tell you what flower it is. But every time I smell it I remember being sort of twelve years old sitting like at the window seat of our house. Not anything else, just being there and sitting at the window reading a book I don't know, it always works for me.

James: For me it's the flowers honeysuckle. Whenever I smell hone suckle I feel like a kid. Because we have a lot of that where I grow up.

Salena: You have done a fantastic job sharing it. Let's just go back through them again. So, first of all, we've got intuitive. So being able, having things in the right spot. We've got the human touch. So that's pretty obvious, making sure you have human in the store. Unless you have that Amazon store where you just walk in and scan everything Do you see that?

James: Yeah, the Amazon go store. Yes, that is an interesting concept. and if you are looking to buy things quickly and without any friction, as you would online, that's an interesting way to go.

Salena: That's a really good introvert store isn't it?

James: Right, nobody touch me, no eye contact.

Salena: Meaningful. So again pretty obvious. What was number 4?

James: Personalize. Tailored to your needs.

Salena: I was so engrossed in that one, I forgot to write it down. And then we got accessible which is just making sure that people can move around in the store. And lastly, immersive. Do you have any examples of a store that have all six of those really, really well.

James: Let me think about this. So are you familiar...Do you know Tom's shoes? Are you familiar with that retailer: So they have some nice flagship stores here in the States. And I've been to several of them. And each one is unique. It's kind of tailored to its neighbourhood. So right there is kind of the personalized. They've got great people working. They are very intuitive, they are immersive in that they do a lot of cool things to make you feel special. So the4y'll have a coffee shop in it. The one in Austin I think have a yoga area. Yeah, a really cool. Accessible, I think they are really accessible. They are pretty easy to get to. And you can always buy from Tom's online if you want. And they are really meaningful because is one for one thing where you buy a pair of shoes and they will donate another pair of shoes to somebody in need. Yeah, I think that's a pretty good example.

Salena: I'm going to have to make sure I pop into one of their stores. Because they have a pop-up store in Westfield here in Sydney and I was doing a workshop in the Westfield and we actually went to that store as a really bad example of anything that you just talked about. ANd I don't know if it was because it was a pop-up store. But one of the people in the workshop with a similar social enterprise. And she said I heard that they've got this popup shop, can we walk down there. Because we were walking through different stores talking about different things. And we went there and we stood outside and said I'm so disappointed. This is nothing like I expected. And then she went into the store, she couldn't get any help. So maybe we just got a bad one. Because it was a pop-up, who knows? Now that you've said that I'm really interested to go and have a look because I've used it as a bad example because we've taken a couple of photos as well of how they weren't doing all of these things and how the customer experience didn't live up to what we were expecting. Before we went there we went to the website and I've always been excited about going there. Like you said, we wanted to feel good about it. We wanted to have this experience that even though we were buying something from ourselves, we are giving. And going in there, not everybody went in. A couple of people went in to purchase There was no help, there weren't a lot of sizes available. So in many ways we were just really unlucky. So I'm going to stop in tom shoes...

James: Well, for one it's an example because we do a lot of work around the pop-ups store phenomena. And one of the examples is how difficult it is to run a pop-up and have that pop-up live up to your brand standards. Especially if you are US based, you are doing a pop-up in another country. It's really tough to hire and train people for a temporary retail location like that and have it live up to your standards.

Salena: That's interesting, but if by the same point not going to those same levels like you expect in your own store can significantly damage your brand.

James: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, just in general, to all the retailers out there If you're going to do pop-up they need to be as good or better than the rest of your fleet.

Salena: Okay, we could talk for ages. I have a whole bunch of questions written down. But we have been talking for a while already. But on your website on the I know that you've got a lot of data. Is there some white paper we could download to absorb some of that information?

James: Absolutely. So we have a specific website just about retail. It's jllretail.com. And if you go there and click on retail intelligence, it brings up a page of all the different reports that we've written. The one that we've talked about today is beyond buying. So if folks, like you taking notes and they wanted to see everything that we talked about, have them download the beyond buying report. And then we do a podcast as well. So if listeners are interested in the kind of topics we are just talking about. We talk about it every week on our show which is called where we buy. And we have a website wherewebuy.show. And of course, we are on all the different podcast places and Apps.

Salena: Thank you very much for sharing that. To me, that was so much knowledge that we can take and even just implementing one or two things really very well can see a huge difference in the number of customers that you get coming into your stores. And I think even customer engagement like they had me to take some of these things like personalization is the one that I was thinking about. And putting them onto social media that is automatically, if I see someone with the monogram or if I see the stamps I'm going to want that too. I'm really going to feel connected and that's going to drive me into the store or drive me onto the website so that I can have a little piece of that myself.

James: Yeah, absolutely. And again the coolest thing about personalization is it takes effort but not necessarily a lot of money. I mean it's the kind of thing that you have to be thoughtful about but it's achievable for independent store owners out there.

Salena: Cool well thank you so much again. This has been one of my favourite episodes in terms of getting a whole bunch of usable stuff that we can implement.

James: Very cool thank you so much for having me Salena, this has been a lot of fun.


James serves as the Americas Director of Retail Research at JLL, based out of Indianapolis, IN. He oversees the production of national retail research and also serves as the voice of retail research in the region. He speaks regularly at events, with clients and the media about how retail real estate will change with tomorrow's economy.

His focus includes the development and implementation of research strategy, methodology, platform deliverables and broad sector analyses for the retail property markets in the United States, Mexico and Canada. He creates industry-leading research and thought leadership for both owners and occupiers of retail developments.

Additionally, James sits on JLL's Research Leadership Council, which focuses on the team's strategic vision, team management and development of best practice standards and collaboration across the global research platform and brand.


James was previously the National Director of Analytics at Xceligent, a national commercial property research firm.  In that role he recruited and managed a new Analytics department, a national team of regional analysts tasked with producing quarterly market reports and thought leadership pieces.

James has worked in the commercial real estate industry since 1999, beginning as a Phoenix market research analyst with Insignia/ESG. He has served as U.S. Director of Research at Colliers International, where he oversaw the commercial property research services. Before that, he built the Colliers national GIS platform, as the GIS Manager for the U.S. region.

Education and affiliations

James received a Bachelor of Arts degree from West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

James is an active participant in the International Council of Shopping Centers' North American Research Task Force. He was the chair of the 2015 Research Connections Conference. He has served on multiple NAIOP and ULI committees.

“Each week I interview industry and thought leaders for their take on business and life”