Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Death of Retail – Part I

I noticed a new tombstone as I walked thru a graveyard yesterday… Actually, it was my local mall, but it sure looked and felt like a graveyard: rows of closed or empty (dead or dying) retailers as far as the eye could see… It was the perfect place to go to pay my last respects to a long-time friend… and an even better place to buy overpriced apparel & jewelry.

The beautiful new tombstone was a fully stocked, completely automated kiosk. This tribute to technology was another sign of the death of retail (as we have known it)… not because consumers prefer to do business with a machine over interacting with a human being… but because most of the surviving retailers are doing their best to eliminate the difference.

Fewer sales people… less training… more self checkout stands… worse customer service… Most retailers are racing toward the cliffs of extinction… and continue to be surprised when they fly over the edge.

An automatic kiosk is the preferred option… only when walking into a ‘real’ store provides little or no Value. As retailers pretend to increase profits by cutting expenses, the only ones who will delay their funeral will be those who leverage their Human Advantage. What are you doing to provide Value to your customers?

1 comment:

beidler said...

Great piece Steven. Well thought out and written exceptionaly well.
Had me looking forward to every next sentence. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

On a side note, even the tombstone ARM automated retail machines are feeling the pinch of our down economy. I've never seen anyone make a purchase, have you?