retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Street has a piece about a presentation by Macy's chairman/CEO Terry Lundgren at the National Retail Federation (NRF) show in New York City, in which he said that the one thing that will not change about in-store retailing, no matter how e-commerce grows, will be "the need for salespeople in the store to convert what shoppers do show up to actual spenders. [The need for] great salesmanship will not change, I don't see it ever going away."

Of course, Lundgren made the comment in the wake of Macy's decision to close 68 stores by early spring, 100 stores over the next few years, and "displace" some 10,000 people as a result.

And, Benzinga has a story about retailing-centric predictions made by Walmart CEO Doug McMillon in a blog posting, noting that he "is of the view that in the future customers will be more empowered than ever to drive the change they want, as they get more control over their shopping experience through technologies such as Internet, mobile and analytics.

"Customers seeking to buy everyday items such as laundry detergent, paper, etc. could turn toward a combination of stores, e-commerce, pick-up, delivery and supported by artificial intelligence," he says. "For customer desires, customers prefer exploring stores or make use of technologies such as virtual reality."

McMillon also argues that "customers may want to access all that is available for their counterparts elsewhere, given that the whole world has now become a global village and what everyone does is visible to all." And, he says that "retailers can survive only if their business creates shared value that benefits shareholders and society. This, according to McMillon, would need new levels of cooperation and collaboration between retailers and NGOs, governments and educational institutions."
KC's View:
I don't go to Macy's a lot, but I guess I have to wonder exactly how many great salespeople they have working in their stores. My experience is that they're moderately competent at ringing up sales, but actually selling? Not so much.

I absolutely agree with McMillon, except that I'd go a step farther. It isn't that customers just want more control over the shopping experience. They already have it ... and they're walking away from retailers that don't accept and acknowledge it, because they are viewing these retailers are irrelevant and on the road to obsolescence.