Published on: March 22, 2016by Michael Sansolo
You don’t have to be extraordinary at everything to succeed in business, but there better be some way in which you are anything but ordinary.
Otherwise, you’ve got problems.
Yesterday’s MNB had an e-mail from a reader whose loyalty to Macy’s evaporated when the retailer eliminated a personal shopper program. What made the store extraordinary to that shopper suddenly disappeared and so did the shopper.
But here’s the thing: the extraordinary can come from anywhere, even inside a hot dog bun, provided the hot dog found inside is really special.
At Costco, that is exactly the case. Highlights like those hot dogs might give the warehouse club giant one more way to keep shoppers crowding the aisles even in the face of increased e-commerce competition. It’s an example any business can and should emulate.
Business Insider recently sent a team of reporters to Costco to sample the entire range of fare at what passes for a food court at the front of each warehouse club. What they found might shock a lot of people - although not my 89-year-old Dad, who is feeling very vindicated by this column and will likely celebrate with lunch at Costco.
In short, Costco’s food courts are terrific, possibly extraordinary for both quality and quantity.
The quantity part should surprise none of us about Costco, the home of really, really large sizes. Business Insider includes a photograph of the smorgasbord purchased by the reporters for about $25. It’s the quality that’s the shock.
The reporters admit that their expectations were low, and then almost apologetically rave about nearly every item they sampled. They loved the Italian sausage, the hot turkey and provolone and chicken bake roll. The pizza and churros were praised as tasty and great values.
Of the barbecue brisket sandwich, they wrote that it was “one of the best we’ve had.” And those hot dogs - they are great and may explain why Costco sells more of them than all major league ballparks combined, according to the Daily Meal.
In summary, Business Insider writes, “We went to Costco with low expectations of its food court, but we were completely blown away. The food at Costco is supersized, delicious and indulgent. It may not be the healthiest food, but it’s a guilty pleasure we plan to cater to more often.”
In other words, Costco has found one more way to be extraordinary and keep shoppers coming back.
Now let’s be straight about this: Costco is not the average retailer. It is known for a number of signature products, a highly unique shopping trip complete with countless sampling stations, bulk pricing and incredible loyalty among shoppers that us reinforced by membership fees.
Yet I also would argue that Costco might be especially vulnerable to the lure of e-commerce. Due to store size, Costco is rarely in a convenient location, checkout lines are legendarily long and the ambience is simply a warehouse. All of those factors could lead a shopper to opt for point and click.
That’s why extraordinary hot dogs and sandwiches might be so important, especially if they give shoppers one more reason to visit Costco, grab a bite and prowl the aisles.
So what makes you special?
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at email@example.com . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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