Big box or cardboard box - Darwin has the answer?

Dodo toy from Amazon
 Paraphasing Charles Darwin, it's not the biggest, nor the strongest and not even the most intelligent of the species that survives, but those most capable of adapting. And with a crop of poor performance figures from the world's leading retailers, (punctuated only by the odd exception to prove the rule), students of the profession are waking up to the fact that the 'business model' currently used by most shops around the world is broken - having failed to adapt!

And the reasons are really simple: size now means nothing, choice is confusing, digital technology heralded the death of distance and price can always (and I mean always) be beaten. You have to ask yourself, why then would any customer choose to travel to my shop?

To me it's self-evident, there is only one reason:  an emotional connection centred around service excellence.

As I've blogged and always espouse when lecturing, Amazon and the like will continue to keep the world's retailers and other major organisations awake at night by stealing more and more business. It's not Internet retailers that are killing old styled retailers, more the old style managers committing suicide! The old style retailers simply don't appear to recognise or acknowledge why their customers are choosing the Internet and fuelling the digital revolution.

In electrical and food retailing we're already seeing the early signs of the 'big box' collapse and (as I forecast several years ago) the renaissance of the independent  'corner shop' offering a customised/personalised service. In big box food retailing, why on earth would anyone want to buy three weeks worth of groceries, waste a whole Saturday morning schlepping around a hypermarket using their gas guzzling four door, four wheel drive-fork lift truck. Why indeed? When they can easily buy all their boring replenishment needs on-line and have them delivered to their home (at a pre-determined time slot)for very nearly the same price.....leaving them to do the nice 'bits' of top-up shopping in their neighbourhood deli-styled grocery stores where they'll find fresh and interesting meal suggestions for supper tonight? Why?

The answer is, as anyone who has worked in any kind of shop for more than a week knows, it's easier and leaves more time for the enjoyable things in life. No check-out lines, no penalties for forgetting your own bags, no screaming kids, no missed sports match.....need I go on. No wonder Wal-Mart recently declared the future of retail would be local!

And on the subject of researching in-store and then buying on-line....let's give the customer reason to pause for thought. I haven't got the answers (and nor should I) but sure as anything, the front line store staff will have. They'll tell you what compelling service needs to be added or offered to the customer to tip the balance in favour of buying in store - maybe start with 'proper' no-quibble after-sales....that's the internet's Achilles heal. The really smart retailers (and really successful!) are already doing this as well as providing an 'easy' way to buy or pre-order on-line, in the home, in store or simply offering a click and collect service etc. And just to underscore my thoughts on 'easy' ...I mean really 'easy'....Amazon 'one-click' easy.....not some bureaucratic procedure dreamt up by misguided wannabe Zuckerbergs from the in-house IT support unit - what bit of 'easy' do customers or employees hate?

Please click through to one of the most lucid articles on the subject of the retail dodo and Darwin - it's by Christopher Matthews of Time Business, titled 'Are we witnessing the death of the big-box store?

And how ironic, when researching for an image of a Dodo I found just the one I was looking on Amazon!