Today my wife and I went to the local Home Depot to look for ideas for the walls in the small hallway where we keep the foster puppies. We were looking at some vinyl and porcelain options, trying to decide what would look good, but also be durable for the constant flow of puppies that come through our house, I believe 55 or so to date.
We looked around ourselves and then we had some questions, so we looked for an employee in that section to help us. Unfortunately, we couldn't find anyone, so I finally flagged down someone from another section who really did try to get us help. But after 15-20 minutes, we gave up and went home without the information we needed.
Sadly, this isn't our first bad experience at Home Depot, as I wrote about here when we had a problem with our recently purchased lawnmower.
I buy certain items in store because if I need help, I want to be able to just go back to the store. If that's not going to happen, then there's no reason for me to buy in the store. If all you're going to do is tell me to return it, I can do that from an online seller. I came to you in case I needed service.
If you don't have the item in your store, but another location does, don't make me drive all over town to get it. Have it sent from that store, make my life easier.
You see Retail CEO, Amazon didn't kill your retail business. You did.
- You did it with every decision you made that didn't put your customer in the center of that decision making process.
- You did it every time you caved to Wall Street and laid-off staff so you could have a positive impact on your bottom line.
- You did it every time you made it impossible for the consumer to easily find and purchase your products.
- You did it every time you cut corners and made your brand undifferentiated in today's world.
- You did it every time you decided that training wasn't that important and besides, the consumer could just look up the information themselves anyway.
- You did it every time you pretended you were "putting control in the consumer's hands" when all you were really doing was looking for ways to save yourself money.
Yes, Amazon and other retailers have put pressure on you thanks to the lower costs and things like free shipping. But they were able to get in there because you were doing a crappy job to begin with. And while Uber is having many problems on its own right now, the reason they were able to get started was because generally the cab experience in this country was so crappy. It's the same thing with retailers. Online retailers came into existence to fill the void you created. And even Amazon is getting back into physical stores!
There are some great retailers out there, big and small. I've always loved Duluth Trading and especially how they stand by every product they sell. Thanks to the fact they I've been wearing an old Bunnysutra watch (funny story about it, ask me the next time you see me!), I've really enjoyed visiting Swatch stores.
Retailers continue to keep stores open, but more and more, they're barely supporting them. Go into any Sears or Kmart store and ask yourselves how long you think they'll be in business. They're usually grossly understaffed and the staff they do have don't seem to either know much or even want to be there. I'm a big believer in physical stores, but they actually have to serve a purpose. They can't just be crappy versions of an online store.
As I wrote about in No Man Can Serve Two Masters, companies can generally either serve their customers or support Wall Street, but they usually can't support both. And they will never support their customers when they put Wall Street first.
So the next time you're at an industry event bemoaning how bad the retail business is, don't look around for external forces to blame first. Start with an inventory of all of the ways you stopped delivering on creating great experiences for your customers. Look at how you put your investors first and destroyed everything you once stood for. Only then can you complain about Amazon.
Read the original post here.