Thursday, July 28, 2011

Retailers have to stop blaming the Internet for eating their homework

Earth to Australian retailers.

People are buying online because your service sucks.
People are buying online because they can compare prices around the world.
People are buying online because they don't want to buy Gerry Harvey another racehorse.
People are buying online because they're sick and tired of limited product choice.

But mainly people are buying online because you're really bad at your job! It has nothing to do with GST this and exchange rate that. Well actually the exchange rate does have something to do with it only because people are getting an idea of how much they're being gouged by the retail and distribution channel.

You screwed it up for yourselves and you can't man up enough to admit it!

Its all about service.

The other day I walked into a Bunnings store. I needed some help and went looking for a staff member...I should have known better. As soon as I made eye contact with one of the "team" members they suddenly found something more interesting to do in another aisle.

By the time I got there they'd disappeared from sight, never to be seen again. Seriously if Australia wants to win gold at the London Olympics in the 100m all we have to do is enter Bunnings staff.

Just walk through your local shopping centre and have a look at the staff working behind the counter, I mean really look at them.

Retailers want to have the lowest cost staff possible, because they've signed up for insane leases that charge the national debt per square metre.

The staff spend more time using their mobile phones, trying on the clothes/shoes/whatever, or, talking about their last big night out. This is usually happening while a customer is waiting at the counter and being made to feel as though their mere presence is an affront to the staff who are discussing/texting/trying on far more important things.

You are the architects of your own downfall.

Another good example of this was a sad and painful visit to a Harvey Norman store. The staff didn't want to know about me. They walked around looking very important, ignoring all the customers. That all changed once a customer picked up an expensive item - all of a sudden it was another Olympic class event as they all tried to write up the sale.

I had to wander the store like a lost bedouin in the desert until I finally found what I was looking for and then I was swamped by sales staff like the winner of a marathon all clamouring to write up my purchase.

If you're going to provide me a retail experience that has no benefit over an online experience why the hell should I drive to the shopping centre and struggle for parking and service when I can sit at home and buy online.

Every retailer on Pitt Street Mall salivates at the crowds waiting to get into Zara, but I don't think one of them actually looks at why they are lining up to get in.

There's choice, something that you can't find somewhere else. The service is pretty good. The prices are reasonable for the quality you are getting.

There's a clue there for somebody if they'd just take a second to realise they don't know all there is to know about retail.

Now everyone in Australian retail has decided that they'll get into 'online' because that's the future and they're going to screw that up as well because 'online' has to deliver a quality experience for the customer.

Unfortunately it seems to be ingrained in Australian retail that the customer only exists to keep the retailer in racehorses.

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