The constant challenge for retailers is to anticipate what their customers really want. And this year, there seem to be plenty of choices available.
It is all part of the on-going challenge of retail; the art and craft of being a merchant.
Then there are the customers who are reacting to the constant drumbeat of news about supply chain issues, merchandise shortages, and looming price increases by starting their shopping early.
Adding to this stampede, some major chains were launching their Black Friday specials before Halloween!
What does all this mean for other retailers? For instance, should you launch your Holiday season earlier than usual?
Well, here's some potentially very useful perspective from one shopper (who, as a PBS broadcast journalist, has a fairly large following on Twitter)*
In other words, there may be many customers out there who simply want retailers to just get a grip. Enough already!
We came across a report of a study conducted by Adobe that concluded that more than 70% of customers "will abandon brands that are creepy, annoying and don't listen to them."
But what happens when brands (and retailers) are NOT "creepy" or "annoying?" Customers will come to trust them, and show that trust by
Each of these very different examples share a common characteristic: the customers are not mincing their words! And by the way, they also are reminding us that it's not rocket science!
What do customers really want? The same thing they always have wanted: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
We suspect that all of us are a bit short on patience after nearly two years of pandemics, uncertainty, disruption, personal loss.
Which is why it just may be the year that retailers need to think beyond this Holiday season, and think even more about 2022 and beyond.
As we said, it's not rocket science; just don't be creepy! But it is the most difficult environment for retailers we've ever seen.
* Hari Sreenivasan, @Hari, Twitter, November 4, 2021.
** Paul Skeldon, Internet Retailing, November 4, 2021. Don't be creepy, don't be annoying and listen: how to avoid losing 70% of your customers, according to Adobe.
Throughout the pandemics, many independent retailers successfully shed their "technology laggards" label, as they pivoted to embrace an array of digital tools.
Yet going forward, it is well to keep in mind what really matters to the customers. And it may not be more technology.
A recent survey* of more than 2,000 customers provides some interesting insights as to who shops where, why, when and how. It especially highlighted the differences between "large stores" and "smaller stores" (or as we view them, "specialty stores.")
Hmm. This suggests to us that shoppers essentially are treating large stores the same way they treat the internet:
Each of us, our households, businesses and communities are in different stages of shutdown due to the coronavirus.
While we cannot speak to when this will end, we do have some ideas for dealing with the "fog of uncertainty" that hangs over us all.
Some thoughts from Nordstrom leadership that are spot on!
That's what Nordstrom President and Chief Brand Officer Pete Nordstrom told Puget Sound Business Journal columnist Patti Payne on April 23, 2020.
And what he succinctly stated is exactly the challenge – and opportunity – that is confronting all retail owners.
In order to answer whether you should re-open once you can, you first must be very confident in WHAT kind of retail operation you will be re-opening.
The only certainty of the aftermath of the pandemic is that everything will be different. Given that, what better time to re-imagine your business?
So, say you have re-opened your stores. Then what? Did the customers come back?
Or, were many of those who did show up just there to say "Hello!" And "We missed you!", but not to buy? Sigh.
We are not surprised. And here's why.
As Amazon Prime Day approaches – it is June 21 and 22 this year, the earliest ever for this 48-hour promotional event – retailers from all segments are wondering (or being asked): "So, how do you compete with Amazon?"
Our response? You don't, at least not directly.
Yet independent retailers do have many strategic advantages over Amazon. But you must recognize them, and enhance them at every opportunity. Here are some ideas that you may want to consider.
Consider these front-page headlines and the accompanying chart (see above) from the June 6 Wall Street Journal* – "Surplus Inventory Piles Up", "Stores Are Stuck with the Wrong Items."
Look at it carefully, and think of your operation in comparison. How do your numbers compare? Are you as shocked as we are?
How did this happen?
Partly as responses to the unprecedented impacts of the pandemic.
Still less than $1 a day! 👀