‘Video killed the radio star’…..

For ‘killer’ insert ‘Amazon’ for ‘radio star’ insert ‘Retailer’ . Invert the meaning, ie it didn’t kill the radio star and you come to the same conclusion as the CEO of Williams-Sonama, a US multiple retailer , with stores worldwide including the U.K. 

“I certainly don’t think we’re in the midst of a retail apocalypse,” CEO Laura Alber said at Recode’s Code Commerce event. “I do not believe that and I do not believe that Amazon is killing retailers. I believe retailers’ bad service is killing retailers.” 

 I have often ranted on about retail service levels , as I have about Amazon’s impact on the High Street. Yet, if the bricks and mortars days were limited they (Amazon)would not be opening up their own stores (which they are).

There is some pretty bad customer service awaiting you on every High St. Many of the U.K. major retail failures within the last ten to fifteen years have been hastened by poor service levels . Poor service is not the preserve of high street retailers. Not all online operators are up to scratch. The relevant point here is that if an online operator offers poor service their demise would be rapid. For a bricks and mortar retailer they can occasionally drift on for years. I know some local independents that have lasted twenty odd years despite horrendous service .

However, on a more positive note , I have had very recent conversations with good retailers, within my own industry, who have said the likes of Amazon are a ‘pain’ but they have to live with it, move on, adapt and offer what the Amazons of this world cannot offer and that is  ‘real personal service’.

Retailers cannot rely upon service alone. Unique and innovative ideas have to be developed. They have to look at a USP that cannot be replicated online. Nordstrom, yet another US retailer have come with a concept which involves reassessing the ‘consumer’.

According to Erik Nordstrom, Co-President of Nordstrom, “There are not store customers or online customers. There are just customers who are more empowered more than ever to shop on their terms.”

Now, considering they are a clothing retailer, there is no clothing merchandise on show . 

Instead, the store is meant to be a “neighborhood hub,” providing a space where customers can congregate and enjoy a host of other unique services, including:

  • Free consultations with personal stylists
  • Onsite tailoring and alterations
  • Refreshments, including beer, wine, cold-pressed juice or espresso
  • Manicures

Only time will tell as to its effectiveness . Innovation is critical, along its path there will be failures and successes. Without innovation there will be only failures. In my opinion Erik Nordstrom knows the consumer has choice of where, when and why they buy. The route to that consumer will now never be via just  one channel. 

Video was killed before the radio star. Radio innovated and adapted, video just died.

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