I am going to share a secret with you, it has been over 3 years since I’ve set foot in a traditional retail store. I do almost all of my shopping on Amazon and the only two other places that I visit occasionally are the grocery store and Costco. The grocery store I visit almost weekly however Costco I now only visit about once a month at best.
So what’s wrong with retail? Let me tell ya!
Problem #1 – The Experience
The premise of the retail store is to go out and acquire something you need. Perhaps the retail experience long ago was also a way to socialize but I wouldn’t know because that must have been decades and decades ago. So what kind of retail experience exists now? Well first I have to get into my car and drive to a retail store. With an ever increasing number of cars being added to the roadways, this means I have to sit in smog for a good 20 to 40 minutes depending on which retail store I am headed to but that’s not the worse part. Next, I spend quite a bit of time driving around looking for a parking space. I know what you’re thinking, I’m the kind of guy that waits for a nearby space so I don’t have to walk far but that’s wrong. I usually take the first parking space I see no matter how close or far from the store but lately there are no parking spaces anywhere near retail shops except of course Sears. After wasting time in traffic then at the parking lot, I then waste even more time walking down aisles looking for what I need. I don’t bother shopping for clothes anymore at retail stores because they never have anything in my size – NEVER! What ever happened to the promise of being measured once then having custom clothes made for you and delivered to your door? If I do find something I need, I then have to wait for a cashier to ring up my purchases and there is almost always someone in front of me arguing with the cashier about a coupon, rebate, discount, or some other dumb items that will save them a couple of dollars on some stupid item they are purchasing.
Problem #2 – Crime
If you live in a big city, you know that on any given day your chances of being robbed or shot are better than winning the lottery. Nothing is a bigger magnet to criminals than retail stores because criminals know people that are entering these shops likely have money or credit cards worthy of stealing. Why should I risk my life to go buy a shirt or pair of pants when Amazon can deliver them to my door in a couple of days?
Problem #3 – Retail has become Lazy
When was the last time you saw any real innovation at a retail store? Sure Starbucks offers free WiFi but why hasn’t every retail store setup WiFi hotspots? Why do retail clothing stores prefer to stock items that may or may not fit people well instead of investing in scanning/measuring technology for custom built clothes? It can’t be that hard to put a shirt or pants together can it? Do you want to know where I get my clothes from now? I had a tailor come out and take measurements then he flew to Hong Kong, had my clothes made then brought them back. I paid $100 for each shirt and a few thousand for some suits. Everything fits great so why can’t someone bring this to a larger scale? It’s amazing that I ended up sending $6000 to Hong Kong when I wish I could have spent that money in the U.S. but retail is clueless!
At least Walmart is trying to change and bringing some minor innovation about 10 years too late but they still want you to go pick up items at their stores which doesn’t solve Problem #2.
The Solutions – THINK ECOSYSTEM
The most successful companies think in terms of ecosystems. Apple sells iPhones but then sells music to play on iphones, then sells apps to use on iPhones, then sells movies to watch on iPhone, then sells laptops and ipads to view/use your content on different platforms.
Retail stores need to think of their customer as an iPhone. Take my measurements then make custom products around what I need. If you make me a custom shirt and pants then you can sell me a belt, then shoes, then socks and underwear. But why stop there? Now that you have my measurements, why not sell me a backpack or suitcase that fits my needs and size? If you know that I like to play tennis, why not extend those sales to sports clothing and sports gear? Why not then sell me luggage that can fit all of my clothing items? All of these items eventually wear out and I need to buy them again so this means repeat purchases – GASP!
What’s that? Your retail business model is to sell shoes only and not the “ecosystem”? Well good luck staying in business because your main competitor right now is Amazon and I can pretty much buy anything there and it has a fairly large ecosystem. I’m just waiting for Jeff Bezos to send someone to my house to take my measurements so I can order custom clothes, I know it will happen someday.