business news in context, analysis with attitude

USAToday reports this morning on what experts believe Kmart Corp. must focus on to survive once it emerges from bankruptcy, probably within the next few weeks:

  • Inventory control. The company needs to make sure that it has a much better in-stock position than in the old days.

  • Being distinct. The company most focus on exclusive brands -- such as Martha Stewart and Joe Boxer – that people can’t find elsewhere.

  • Customer service. If customers don’t enjoy the shopping experience, they won’t come back.

  • Promotional intensity. Kmart believes it must aggressively promote sale items at prices below its rivals’.

KC's View:
No argument here…except that the company is still looking for a “chief merchant,” having paid far more attention to dealing with its Wall Street customers than its Main Street customers during its bankruptcy.

In addition, we can’t see where Kmart has done anything to generate the kind of enthusiasm at store level that will affect either employees or customers.

And, if Kmart thinks that it can under-price Wal-Mart on anything, it is engaging in self-delusion. We’d be willing to bet there is a committee of folks down in Bentonville that arrives at the office each day with just one mission – make Kmart miserable.

Actually, it probably isn’t the committee’s only mission, because it is ,likely able to accomplish that task before lunch. Which leaves the rest of the day to make the rest of the retailing community nuts.