The sticky toffee pudding of retail !

I offer a confession. I love sticky toffee pudding, but it would not  need much to take me over the edge….and hate it . Well actually a lot would make me hate it,’cos’ it would me fat and very sick. Sick coming first, so it probably wouldn’t make me fat as I don’t like being sick.

But it is not the eating of it that is my real issue, it’s the proliferation on every other bloody menu in restaurants and hotels . No, correction every menu plus the assumption it is a traditional British dessert . It is not ! Unless, of course, you count it’s invention in the 1970’s as a long enough period to qualify as a tradition. In my books it has replaced the sixties ‘perfect menu’ dessert of Black Forest gateau, which at least dates back to the 1930’s. Still hardly a tradition.

Am I loosing you or have you  already gone ? Well, the parallel I am drawing is that Retailers seem to think that because loads of people quite like something they should all sell it . That might have worked twenty years ago but it ‘don’t’ work today . If consumers believe that they know what is going to be in store why would they bother to make repeat visits . This is a pattern repeated by many multiples and independents. There is a continuing belief in the need to stock the ‘must have’ brands. That’s all well and good but if everybody has them what is your point of difference ? It maybe price, and for the independent that is very difficult and costly direction of travel. It maybe service or range but it is not enough to keep the shopper coming to look as they will always think they know what you have and don’t need to come into look for anything new .

This is not only an issue for theRetail Store, the same problem contaminates online operators. I cannot begin to recount the number of times I have sat infront of a potential new account to be asked

what are your best sellers?

My teeth start grinding, I squeeze my car keys in my pocket until my hand starts to bleed, I start pull on clumps of hair with my free hand (all metaphorical but internalised nonetheless) . Yet, it is invariably , the first question asked. The consequence, of which, is the pursuit to the bottom (in terms of profit and price) . The potential, that online accrues and the Store doesn’t is that niche markets for online can still be big and certainly a lot more profitable. Yet it is seldom their first port of call. they dont like dsifferent (or at least most of them)

The irony ( I think this is the right word, never sure with ‘irony’) of the ‘The Sticky Toffee Pudding’ metaphor (crumble should also included ! Love it as well but don’t want it on every menu)  is very evident with Restaurant outlets. I believe the travails of operations such as Zizzi, Prezzo, Jamie’s Italian, Byron Burgers et al are all trying to serve up the same products in a variety of ways, but in a mediocre manner that makes the consumer look elsewhere. There are plenty of good ‘alternative’ desserts out there . Try them !

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