2012 Retail Trend – Back To Real Merchandising
If 2011 was the year the big box formula proved to be a dud. The big box formula can be summarized by the adage, “stack ‘em high and let ‘em fly”. In other words, all a retailer has to do to sell is price it cheap and have enough on hand. This formula has filtered into online shopping as well.
Consumers have leapfrogged retailers, while retailers continue drawing from the same old bag of tricks. Here’s how:
- Selling channels have expanded. Consumers now choose from online, social media, group buying, peer recommendations and mobile access as points of contact with retailers. Less than 10 percent of all retailers are fully engaged in all of these channels while over half of all consumers use these channels.
- Social media gives consumers control of marketing distribution. Recommendations, links and likes create a new level of distribution of a retailers’ offerings, one where the retailer has no control of what the message says or where the message goes.
- Consumers are more sophisticated. Shopping at Amazon or Zappos and you’ll experience top-flight online shopping. Go to Best Buy online and learn your holiday purchase, that’s been on back order since November 28th won’t be shipped until after Christmas (and learn this 48 hours before Christmas) and experience poor execution at its finest/worst. Site crashings like Target.com did twice this fall…not good.
- Service means knowing your product. Retailers have way understaffed their stores with employees unfairly thrust into departments with little training. Products have become more sophisiticated…and not just in electronics. In apparel, for example, most consumers don’t know the difference between cashmere, pashmina and viscose. Worse still, no one in the accessories department does either!
- Identifying consumers as “guests” or “clients” is BS. I don’t want a fancy name. I want my shopping experience to be engaging, to produce results (such as leaving with what I came for) and efficient.
I happen to live in a second ring suburb where every imaginable big box store is within an 8 minute drive or less. Imagine my joy when I noticed a store opening for a family run hardware store near where I live. That means I won’t have to go to Home Depot again. A well-run hardware operation is like an old line haberdasher or barber shop. They know their stuff. And if you frequent them enough, they know what stuff is best for you.
That is the future of retail…which is really its origins. We’ve just been blinded by the aura of stack ‘em high and let ‘em fly for too long.