Some Ideas About the Retail Environment

My research department has been coming up with interesting reads I haven’t had time to pass on.  Here are three worth a few minutes of your time.

5 Ways the Future of Retail is Already Here” shouldn’t surprise anybody who’s been paying attention.  But it’s interesting to see these five retail evolutions listed together and consider the cumulative impact.  What does it cost to do this stuff?  What’s the impact on customer service and how it’s staffed and carried out?  Perhaps we need to pause and redefine what customer service is.

Do we believe that by “giving the customer what they want, when they want it, where they want it, and how they want it” we’re building our brands and any loyalty to them?  I’m worried we’re just making it easy for customers to move seamlessly and without friction among brands.  Chasing today’s mantra of customer service is starting to feel like a defensive response to competitors rather than a strategy for building customer loyalty.

We’ve all acknowledged that the customer is in charge.  What’s the sound business model when the customer expects more, wants higher quality, and doesn’t feel compelled to come back to your brand?  When your product is hard to differentiate from your competitors, I’m pretty sure it involves scarcity and thoughtful distribution.

Okay, item number two.  Not an article but a website for 3D printing.  It’s been a few years now that I’ve been saying, “Hey! It’s coming.  Please pay attention.”  Here’s the link to a company called Shapeways.  Spend a few minutes understanding their process.  If you didn’t find it yourself checking out the web site, I strongly suggest you go here, scroll down a bit and watch the four minute video under “We’ll Produce It For You.”  The capabilities and variety of materials they work with are quite impressive.

Finally, I call your attention to, “A new report says 1 in 6 millennials has $100,000 in savings. This is how some found a way to stockpile cash.

It’s not the most rigorously prepared article I’ve ever come across, but it’s worth thinking about.  First, people who are saving money aren’t using it to buy our products.  I’ve suggested before that the millennials are like my mom’s generation that grew up during the Great Depression in the sense that they have been through a tough financial crisis.  For my mom, the experience evolved into a life long financial conservatism and reluctance to spend- even when she had lots of money.

If true, how do you address it?  Perhaps a group that thinks this way might be interested in quality and long-term value.

That’s it.  Hope these three are thought provoking.