Pricing alone will never lead to a long term strategic advantage, only service quality and inspiration can.
I’m saddened by today’s retail landscape in Australia. Shop windows shout lowest price, when what I really need are inspirational gift ideas, good sales advice and the comfort that my dicky gift choices can be returned when they turn out to be just that, dicky!
Pricing is a consideration for sure but only in so much as the chosen item is inside or outside my budget, at which point the role of a retail assistant is to upsell upsell upsell!
At this time of year, the vast majority of retail spending is focused on gift buying. But in this world of consumerism on steroids, friends and family are increasingly hard to buy for – combine this with the paradox of choice we feel and no wonder the shelves remain stacked and the gifts received remain, er, dicky. Pricing, though, is rarely the issue.
The solution is probably right in front of me, a personal shopper! But who knows how to use one of those? In the world of online, a Personal Shopper is only a few clicks away. Punch in my budget, a broad description of the loved ones I’m buying for and bam, inspiration is at hand. Maybe my better-half gets an email with options to choose from that will better narrow the items presented back to the buyer, Buble or Gaga, Block colours or print, ebook or paper? Now I have items to choose from that make me look like the hero I am, and I can pick up in store to boot (time for that all-important upsell and gift wrapping service!)
Clearly these are difficult times, and Christmas is an expensive business, so the price conscious shopper with a gift in mind is looking for the best price available. But I don’t believe that is the whole story. By focusing on lowest price retail I worry that our biggest Branded retailers are on a race to zero, yet they’ll remain unable to compete with online – this is a lose lose for all. Online is the key to harvesting Signals for that personal experience, it’s the opportunity for Big Retail to take “personal retailing” to the next level; training consumers to think Online is all about Lowest price and best discount is to underwrite the death of Big Retail.
“Discount heavily and I will love you right now, inspire me with insights and ideas and great service and I will love you for ever”
Two stories in today’s SMH caught my eye, one announcing that Australia’s Retail legend Myer was launching it’s Boxing day sale today to online customers, and the other covering the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalogue (which has been available since 1926 and growing from strength to strength each year!) interesting contrast between growing retail and contracting retail.