Saturday, December 12, 2015
YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
As you know I'm a passionate advocate
for shopping locally here in Lewistown.
Hence I've tried my damnedest to do all
if not most of my holiday shopping on
Main Street. However ultimately there
are some things one simply cannot buy
locally. And that was the case even when
we lived in Manhattan. Hence I've often
had to surf the web for goodies. What's
most miraculous is the bargains one can
find. And while they seem almost too
good to be true, in my experience I've
rarely if ever been truly disappointed.
Via such an economical venue - many
wholesalers are now selling directly to
consumers. In doing so they're offering
prices that one simply can't afford not
to take advantage of. Said phenomena
is challenging traditional retailers to
step up or drop out. Recently dear "A"
found the perfect designer goodie at
Nordstrom. That's when her sales clerk
offered to surf the web for a better price
and MATCH IT. Quickly the same item
was found for 30% less. And just as fast,
that lower price is exactly what "A" paid.
How low can you go?
Frankly, I find such gratuitous discounting
more than disconcerting. Truth be told, any
idiot can sell almost anything to anybody
on the internet out of a basement or garage.
Sans any overhead, prices can be slashed
to points lower than what most traditional
retailers can leverage profitably. Somehow
that competitive advantage seems beyond
unfair. Is this phenomena forcing retail to
sink so low that they must literally give the
store away in order to make a sale? What
happened to the allure of shopping? Will
this force my local shops out of business?
Down and dirty
Somehow we've devolved to a point
where price is king. Trust me. I'm all
for a bargain. That said I'm also more
than willing to pay what is necessary
to secure something amazing. Sadly
fashion has become a commodity not
indulgence. Hence if one needs a pair
of black pants it's easier to google
"black pants" than rifle through the
racks. Push a button and instantly a
hundred options pop up before your
eyes - ALL in your size. Could this
possibly be the better way to shop?
Just say no
My resounding answer is ABSOLUTELY
NOT. Today cyber shopping is completely
unable to woo, surprise, and delight. Yes,
it's a perfectly viable option for checking
off one's list. However one must at least
know what they need and want BEFORE
surfing the web. And often, the things we
treasure most were capricious discoveries
we had NO idea we wanted... or needed.
The problem is that most retailers have
dumbed down their assortments to the
point of no return. Any allure has been
lost. And hence, much of our business.
Shop and compare
The only way any retailer can offer
you a garment that can still generate
them a profit post discounting is to
DUMB IT DOWN. Therefore most
shops are filled with the LOWEST
COMMON DENOMINATOR. No
wonder people no longer see any
reason to drive to the mall. It's so
much easier to review options via
an internet sort than hunt and peck
the shops. UNLESS someone offers
us something we can't get anywhere
else most of us will shop elsewhere!
I've no doubt that brick and mortar
retail is going to survive this cyber
onslaught. However chances are that
the resulting retail environment will
be dramatically different than today.
In essence, we have to go back to the
future. Once again stores will become
places where one sees, touches, and
purchases things they never knew
existed. In my mind that will require
discarding the majority of traditional
mass retailing techniques. And once
again, LESS WILL BE MORE.
Quality not quantity
It seems that finally, most of America has
figured out that driving to a store in order
to purchase a five dollar polo from some
disgruntled, minimum wage teen is simply
a waste of time. The question is, when will
retailers step up and find an innovative way
to re-engage us disenfranchised consumers?
Since the dawn of time people have craved
things they didn't or couldn't easily have.
The marketplace of yore was a wonderland
of sights, scents, and sounds. One hundred
years ago, that was your local, hometown
department store. Could that happen again?
Survival of the fittest
Frankly, I love to shop. And at least
for me, it's not all about what I may
actually purchase. To this day I enjoy
the thrill of simply being out and...
about. Therefore I don't worry about
the future of retail. Rather I'm waiting
patiently for somebody to figure out
whats wrong and fix what's obviously
broken. As a veteran retailer I'm filled
with anticipation for what's yet to come.
You see, I've no doubt that the proven
art of commerce will continue to thrive
and survive. Somewhere, somehow!