One Million And Counting

Posted by on August 21, 2013

A Monday Morning Memo from The Wizard of Ads

According to Stillerman, Jones, and Co., we recently added the one millionth retail store in America. That’s nearly one retail store for every two hundred people. Is a million too many? Most analysts say “Yes.” The consensus opinion is that the unfocused, the weak, and the outdated will be systematically swept away.

Consider: 1. With a million stores, we have overbuilt “retail” in America.
2. The shopper’s time is becoming more precious than his money.

Observation: Too many stores, too little time.

Question: How will this affect shopping in 1996-97?

Answer: People are still shopping, just not in the same ways as in the past.
“Retailers must adapt to what the customer wants, instead of expecting
the customer to adapt to them.” (Naisbitt)

Example: After closing 328 stores last year, K-Mart agrees the time has come to adapt to what the customer wants instead of expecting the customer to adapt to them.

Beginning three days from now, K-Mart will show us their “reorganized sales staff.” “The whole purpose of the structure is to provide better service for our customers” says K-Mart spokeswoman Teresa Fearon. Beginning Feb. 29th, K-Mart will staff its stores with “specialized sales people, instead of rotating employees between departments.”

What a revolutionary concept! Salespeople who actually know what they’re talking about!

Why didn’t K-Mart invest in “trained salespeople” a long time ago? Surely they knew their service was lousy. I’m only guessing, but I’ll wager the suggestion was made numerous times and each time the answer was given, “You can’t be all things to all people. The shopper who wants service is not our customer. Our customer cares only about selection and low prices.”

“You can’t be all things to all people.” This is the standard objection we hear at Williams Marketing when we nudge a client beyond their comfort zone. “You can’t be all things to all people.”

There is a common misconception that the person who lists “price” as their primary reason for choosing a store doesn’t care about “service” or “quality”. In reality, every shopper is concerned about “Price. Service. Quality. Convenience. Friendliness. Image.” etcetera, but to varying degrees. Customers choose the store they believe offers the best combination of these attributes. Can you become “All things to some people”? Yes! Absolutely! And it’s essential that you do! On the mental scorecard of the customer, K-Mart scored so poorly on “service” that their score for “low price” was simply not enough to make up for it. Other stores were perceived as offering a better combination of “Price, Service, Quality, etc.”

Believe it or not, affluent customers care about price and bargain hunters care about service. It’s our job to make you “All things to as many people as possible.” The right combination of emphasis depends on your store’s history (your position in the market) your staff, your inventory, your location, and your competitors. There is no magic formula. We at Williams Marketing need continuing streams of information from you if we are to give you the maximum benefit of our training and experience. Invest ten minutes each week to write down your thoughts, your ideas, and your observations and then fax it to us.

This is an investment which will yield rich results. We’ll be waiting by the fax machine.

Roy H. Williams

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