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Retailers: Are you making your own recession?

Ever hear the term BSOD?

It’s an acronym for “Blue Screen of Death”, which is what you get when Windows barfs all over itself.

In my experience, you get that rare (for me) “I’m a PC” explosion when hardware is failing (and sometimes when you seriously, royally messed up).

Last week after a litany of BSODs on a 30 month old laptop (6 months longer than the typical lifespan in my use – thanks HP), I decided I needed to deal with this issue sooner rather than later.

Because I like The 3/50 Project, I called a local authorized retailer of the brand of laptop I had my eye on. I asked if they had any one of the standard models (a very common one) in stock.

“No, but we can order it for you.”

I replied “Sorry, I was looking to buy from a local company.”

Remembering why you have a storefront

You have a retail storefront. You’ve paid the manufacturer to become an authorized retailer (and continue to pay for co-op advertising, ongoing training, and so on). Yet…you don’t stock the product and you suggest that the service you can provide after all that investment in time and money will be to order one for me?

I can find (or whatever) on my own, thanks.

Retailers have complained incessantly about unfair competition from e-commerce stores, but not enough have done something about it. Many retail store failures have been blamed on online buying, while few get blamed on the owner / management / employees.

E-commerce succeeds because goods and services can be shopped for 24 hours a day, from any location,  in “any” store from anywhere.

Why do some retailers still try to make shopping right here in town *harder* than shopping online? I just don’t get it.

Instant gratification goes both ways

People say e-commerce is all about instant gratification. That people can buy online and immediately feel the rush of a successful purchase.

Horse hockey. Instant gratification (or close enough) happens when I can drive 18 minutes, walk into the store, plop down my Bert and Ernie-branded Mastercard and walk out with a product under my arm after being helped by a salesperson or clerk who acts like it matters that I walked into their store.

Ecommerce makes me wait at least until tomorrow. Where’s the instant gratification in that?

Retail stores often fail because they don’t exist to serve the customer, or they don’t recognize that the reason for getting a sale is to get a new customer.

This local store lost a $2000 sale in a two minute phone call – and may also have lost a long-term customer, which is even worse from my perspective.

I called a Montana-based chain store who deals in the same product and they had them in stock. But they’re “just” a retailer. They don’t do consulting or offer anything of that nature like the other business does – so it doesn’t matter all that much to them whether I’m a long-time customer or not, at least from the perspective of that purchase.

What should have happened?

What should the first guy should have done when I told him I wanted to make a local purchase? He should referred me to the other local dealer and offered to help if I needed it (since it’s obvious to *anyone* that the other store doesn’t do that sort of thing).

You want more customers. Do what’s in *their* best interest and it’ll come back to you. Remember, I came to you to ask for help. Instead of solving my problem, you offered to do what I can do from my La-Z-Boy.

Call it karma if you wish. Call it good business. Regardless, think of what the customer is trying to accomplish and help them do so. Next time, they might think of you again – and you might actually have the item they need in stock.

Tomorrow, we’ll address that stock issue.

5 replies on “Retailers: Are you making your own recession?”

Reminds me of, however long ago when the stock market fell etc. and times got tough, Sony weren’t making enough cash apparently so the solution was to increase the price of all there laptops etc. by 30%.

Yeah, that should get business booming.

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