retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB reader Joe DiVincenzo:

IMHO, Brick and Mortar aren’t so much being beaten by E-Commerce, they are serving their customers up to them, even when they have a differentiated advantage.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve purchased product on Amazon, not because it is easier and I don’t have to leave my house, but often I simply no longer can find the items I want anywhere locally  among a wide range of products that I used to shop in town for.

This past weekend was different.  I needed a new sport coat, and to me, that’s the type of item you want to see in person, look over the selection, try on several styles, get advice on fitting, and potentially have alterations made right in the store.

So, off I drove to the remaining Macy’s in Rochester, 20 miles and a half hour from my home.  To my surprise, there was a friendly knowledgeable sales person who asked me questions about what I wanted, showed me several styles, helped me try them on and in about 10 minutes had picked out a suitable (no pun intended) sport coat that fit right off the rack that I could bring home with me.   Of course, the actual price was less than half of the marked price which was to be expected.  All good, there still is a place for Brick and Mortar… or so I thought till I went to the checkout.

As I checked out, the clerk told me they were having a pre-sale promotion where I could get an additional 25% off.  Sounds good, ring me up!  Sounds good till he explained they would swipe my credit card but not process it, store my sport coat in the back room for 3 days, then I could return to the store and pick it up.  I told him that’s ridiculous.   I’m buying the coat, they are taking it off the floor and storing it, they need additional labor to retrieve it for me, and I have to drive an additional 40 miles round trip to get a Jacket that’s just sitting there.   I asked why in the world would they want to inconvenience a customer so much when I could just as easily take the model number and size, go to Amazon and have it delivered right to me.   Surely I thought the clerk or a manager could  over-ride this and just let me take the coat home.  The response was this promotion comes from Corporate, they are not empowered to change it and I could take the coat with me and lose the 25% discount, or drive the hour round trip in a few days if I didn’t want to overpay.

I have no clue what Marketing Genius at Macy’s came up with this one, but if their goal is to make Customers even more inconvenienced than they already are, and not want to shop there anymore they’ve succeeded.  With so many other options available, they just lost another customer and hastened their final demise.

Mind Blowing!

Regarding Walmart's reinvigorated competition online against Amazon, MNB reader Bob Vereen wrote:

I recently checked both Amazon and Walmart for prices on several items, and found Walmart to have the lower prices.   It appears this retail giant is making headway in its e-commerce efforts.

On another subject, MNB reader Jeff Gartner wrote:

Kevin, if Sears were serious about its new DieHard Auto Center, it would be better branded without the "Driven by Sears" add-on to its name. If you're not a Sears shopper (and there's an increasing large number of people who belong to that category), you probably don't know DieHard is a Sears-owned brand. Why give it that baggage of the Sears name? 

Of course if it fails, then it can change the name to Diehard Auto Center CRASHED by Sears!"

And from MNB reader Tom Redwine, reflecting on my comment about what on Star Trek was called "infinite diversity in infinite combinations," wrote:

Loved the "Star Trek" IDIC reference. As far as intelligent life on other planets, I certainly hope so, because (as Monty Python would say) "there's bugger-all down here!"

It is a successful MNB, I think, when we can get both Star Trek and Monty Python into the copy.
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