retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Great column the other day on Forbes.com by Christopher Buckley, one of my favorite writers, entitled “Why You Can’t Trust Anyone.”

The piece starts by contemplating the arrest of Russian sleeper spies, and the possibility that it raises that we cannot trust anyone - not even our next door neighbors:

“How grim and sere to contemplate a world in which one would have to live in constant vigilance of one's friends? I've lived (happily) in Washington, D.C. for almost 30 years now, but it's a pressure cooker, and I've seen friendships sundered within the scorpion-bottle. There's an old joke we tell here: What's the definition of a 'friend' in Washington? Someone who stabs you in the chest."

But then Buckley makes another point, one that should have resonance for anyone in the retailing business:

“Thirty or forty times a year I board an airplane and buckle myself in, trusting that the pilot has not spent the night doing shots of Jägermeister or snorting lines of cocaine off the bare breasts of a hooker. And then some years ago came the comical (sort of) story about the pilot who, as the plane lumbered down the taxiway, was heard by the tower singing, ‘Somewhere over the rainbow.’ He was bombed. So in the end we're all trusting fools, to one degree or another. Do we have much choice in the matter, at the practical level?”

The answer to that question, I think, is this:

Consumers will trust us, until they don’t.

At which point, anarchy will ensue. We’ll wonder why, but it will be our fault.

It is a primary job of responsible institutions - whether airlines or supermarkets - to engender trust...through transparency, consistency, and a dedication to doing the right thing, to not cutting corners.

That’s my Tuesday morning eye-opener.

- Kevin Coupe

Note: You can read the whole, entertaining Buckley column by clicking here.
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