Monday, June 5, 2017

Why Sears is Dying

As I walked around the mall I realized Sears is an outlier.  In a world of experiential shopping of beautiful stores with cultivated and gamified shopper experience housed in MGM Casino like backdrops; Sears is ugly.  Tons of products crammed into a space, actively trying to sell products off the shelf.  It's like the internet doesn't exist.

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To succeed Sears needs to embrace shopping trends which are now both in-person and online.  Look at Sears compared to the Microsoft Store.  One is fun and beautiful the other looks dated.  Sears isn't embracing screens and it should.  One has properly and purposely spaced user experiences of products the other is the opposite.  One has modern lighting and shelving, the other looks like a 1980s MVA/DMV.
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Online versus Physical Retail isn't an either/or proposition.  Choosing between going all online or all physical retail.  Sears should leverage it's impressive real estate to sell products online, particularly with focus of online sales while in the store. Using its physical space to beautifully display what their products can do in a gamified manner.  This beautiful appearance will attract and enable the first step to a completion of a sale likely online with modern "Amazon-like" delivery.

Picture this, you go into Sears you see some great air compressor with screens depicting what they can do for you.  You then think wow that is interesting, take an RFID or photo scanner out on the Sears app which allows you to connect to that product online and if you buy in the next five minutes you get your taxes paid for by Sears and free shipping.

Instead the experience is akin to seeing air compressors side-by-side in an old multi-purpose room replete with 1990s school lighting.  You really need to want that air compressor in this experience, and Sears makes you jump through several more hoops. You then have to look for a salesman to complete the transaction at a Point of Sale unit.  Why wouldn't that same consumer just buy one online and check out the Apple Store with their newfound time?

Sears isn't fun.  It isn't modern.  It is outdated and it needs to embrace 2017 retail which is about fun  (not necessity).

Thursday, June 1, 2017

What's Chipotle's Problem?

I wrote a blog post a few years ago when a Chipotle employee boasted about running over a cat on Facebook.  This post received about 1,000,000 views.  While I am not a cat lover their response to the post revealed something systemic which is still rearing its ugly head.

Specifically Chipotle backed their employees 100% and showed almost no contrition nor discipline of their offending employee.  Forget Social Media flow charts, this was something that struck at the root of the entire corporate culture.  The customer was not always right.  The customer was not even sometimes right.  The customer was wrong.  The customer was on the outside of their circle of trust.  

This again happened when Chipotle employees were calling customer very insulting terms on social media.   Chipotle again defended their employees completely without contrition nor any visible discipline.

This manifested itself several times in the last several years which lead to loss of customers and worth.  All of the e-coli outbreaks could be contaminated food, or they could have been employees not properly washing their hands or following sanitary guidelines.  When the employee is right, it is hard to really see and correct what is causing issues.  

Then it is reported in several outlets that Chipotle gets their customer credit cards info stolen from almost every store.  Again it is a surface issue, like the lack of proper social media practices with the cat issue, but it is also something deeper.  The customer is not valued as highly as the employee.  The employee information wasn't stolen, or it wasn't reported that it was stolen; it was the customer's information that was stolen.  

The remedy for Chipotle is simple.  They forgot the cardinal rule of business, the customer keeps the lights on.  The customer is most important, the customer MUST come first.