retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

There’s a part of me that hates writing this morning’s Eye-Opener, in part because it may appear to pick on one retailer. Which is not my intention. There probably are a bunch of retailers guilty of the same sins, but this one just happens to be one in my town where I live. And so, it becomes are focus of my commentary, and, I hope, an object lesson for other retailers.

I went into my local Ahold Delhaize-owned Stop & Shop over the weekend, and was a bit startled to find, just inside the front door, a display selling Amazon gift cards.

This wasn’t just Amazon gift cards hanging on a rack with hundreds of other gift cards for other retailers and restaurants. This was a standalone display, selling gift cards that come packaged in cute little facsimiles of Amazon shipping boxes. And all I could think to myself was, why don’t you just sign over your whole business to Amazon, and be done with it. Because that’s essentially what you’re doing by promoting Amazon so visibly and in such a high-profile position.

I just don’t think that’s very smart. And, by the way, I’ve never seen a Peapod gift card promoted in a similar position. And Ahold Delhaize owns freakin’ Peapod.

That’s not even the worst of it. Before I entered the store, I went to get a shopping cart … and found a corral that was so dirty (picture below left) that I didn’t even want to take one. (There weren’t a ton of carts there, but that was because many of them were scattered in the parking lot, not because the store was very crowded.)

I saw this corral, and all I could think was that if retailers want to win in an increasingly cutthroat competitive environment, they have to bring their A-game. Every hour of every day. That means, at the very least, being neat and clean and in-stock and with helpful, friendly employees who are getting it done.

As opposed to bringing a D-game that does little to persuade the customer that this is where I should be bringing my business.

Again, I’m not just picking on Ahold Delhaize and Stop & Shop here. But I do believe that this is an Eye-Opening object lesson about how not to compete.

Here is the question that I would ask every retailer: Are you absolutely sure that your stores are not guilty of the same sins?

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