Monday, February 2, 2015

Retail doesn't grow on trees

Three recent unrelated retail experiences did little to assure me that we'll be shopping in actual stores for nonperishable goods, five years from now.

Each event was so illustrative that I decided to name each store below. I don't know if there's any PR strategy that would persuade me to alter my opinion about each merchant. Because retail involves hundreds of individual interactions between the store staff and shoppers, rather than a massive message campaign.

Here's today's scorecard:

By M.O. Stevens (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0
via Wikimedia Commons
Dollar Tree - I don't expect concierge service in a discount store with "dollar" in its name. But when a heated, f-bomb-laden shouting match breaks out between two surly males at the slow-as-molasses checkout, I expect the store's staff to do more than stand around and watch the drama unfold. Kids in line were crying.

Ís dialing 911 too complicated?

NOTE: If Dollar Tree's policy is for store employees to act as silent bystanders, Dollar Tree's pending $8.7 million merger/takeover of the struggling Family Dollar retail chain doesn't fill me with optimism.

Wal-mart - ever an easy target, the giant retailer needs to pay attention to its merchandise mix. A knock-off U.S. flag sew-on patch should have 50 stars, not eight. That was the only choice in a local Wal-mart, and not a salesperson in sight. The whole roll-back campaign has gone too far. Give us our 50 stars, Wal-mart!

ABVI Goodwill of Rochester - I love browsing used books at Goodwill stores, and I don't expect personalized sales service. But, I don't love standing at the register while a cashier lazily rearranges her receipts before failing to make eye contact with a shopper. That's unacceptable. Rearrange your sales slips when no one's waiting to check out.

Retailers need to stop and think: I can buy almost any item in any store. Or online. If your goal is to spur me to buy items I didn't plan to buy, you've got to make me want to visit the store. More than once. These behaviors aren't going to persuade me to come back.