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Where Everybody Knows Your Name

2014 April 14

Driving home one night recently I passed a local bank with one of those signs in front with the space to spell out a message. This one read, “We don’t have customers, we have friends who do their banking here.” My first reaction to this was that’s a lot to cram into not much space. My second reaction was…really? For Sale Marquee Sign

While I applaud the thought process that wanted to differentiate, it stopped short of being relevant. When choosing a bank, what is it that consumers look for? A friendly face and a place they feel at home? That sounds more like “Cheers.” What they are more likely focused on is security. Trust. Safety. read more…

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Mind the Gap—What a Shrinking Middle Class Means to Retail

2014 February 14

If you’ve ever been to London and ridden “The Tube,” you’ve likely seen signs all over imploring you to “Mind the Gap.” The gap in question is the gap between the rail car and the (often curved) edge of the station platform. Not paying attention could lead to some disastrous results for the unwary traveler.Mind the Gap_2.14.14

This came to mind when I read a recent article in the New York Times about the erosion of the middle class. According to the Times, while politicians like to align themselves with the great American middle class, the fact is, it’s shrinking—and doing so at an alarming rate. read more…

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Taking the Die Out of “Diet”

2014 January 6
by Jeff Weidauer

January is typically the month when everyone starts to think about weight loss, and those in business do their best to help with new diets, supplements and gym memberships. But already in this New Year there is interesting news on the health and wellness front.Take the die out of dieting_1.6.14

According to a new report from The NPD Group, a provider of market information and advisory services, fewer Americans claim to be on a diet than in previous years. Dieting peaked in 1991 when 30 percent of those polled were on a diet; the current number is down to 19 percent. And the majority of dieters are Boomers, with more than a quarter of Boomers currently dieting, while only 12 percent of Millennials claim to be in diet mode. read more…

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Black Friday Blues

2013 November 25

Thanksgiving has always been a uniquely American holiday, first because it was in remembrance of the Pilgrims’ celebration of a successful growing season in 1621. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a “National Day of Thanksgiving and Praise” on November 26, 1863. In more recent times, Thanksgiving has become—in a uniquely American way—all about the shopping. black-friday-graphic

Franklin Roosevelt fixed the day (with some urging from the founder of Macy’s) as the fourth Thursday in November, creating the Christmas shopping season. Back then advertising for Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving was generally seen as inappropriate, so setting the day as the fourth, instead of the last, Thursday in November was a boon to retail.  read more…

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The Retail Hierarchy of Needs

2013 November 15
by Jeff Weidauer

Anyone who has taken a basic college-level psychology class has been exposed to Abraham Maslow and his theory of psychological health, which he called the “Hierarchy of Needs.” Maslow’s perspective was that every person has an innate desire to “self-actualize,” or reach full potential as an individual. Like all psychological theories, this one has its supporters and detractors, with the net outcome that it’s probably at least partly true.

maslow-pyramid2_blogThe steps of the hierarchy define a journey, from basic physiological needs like food and shelter, through safety, friends and family, to self-esteem and finally to full self-actualization. Moving up the spectrum required all of the facets of a given need to be met consistently.  read more…

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Slaying the Dragon—How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Showrooming

2013 November 5

Since it was coined a couple of years ago, the term “showrooming” has typically been used in the pejorative sense. Defined as the act of shoppers looking at products in a brick and mortar store and then ordering the products online (often while standing in the store), showrooming was predicted by many to be the beginning of the end for retail stores.

Seller demonstrating paint roller to buyer

About this time last year I wrote a blog post recounting my experience with a clerk at Best Buy as I was buying a new PC for my mother-in-law. I took the positive interaction and helpful advice I received as a sign of good things to come at Best Buy, and sales appear to be heading in a positive direction according to the Wall St. Journal. A recent article quotes Hubert Joly, Best Buy’s CEO, and his take on the practice. “A year ago, people said that showrooming would kill Best Buy. I think Best Buy has killed showrooming,” he says. read more…

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Lies We Tell Ourselves

2013 October 9
by Jeff Weidauer

A new study from Young & Rubicam brings to light something that many marketers—not to mention psychologists—have long known: people are poor sources of information about themselves and their true desires. Using a technique called “Implicit Association,” researchers asked respondents questions about their values directly and then tried to determine what these same respondents really felt, even though they sometimes didn’t know it.

Knowing shoppers

For anyone who’s ever sat behind the glass during a focus group, the fact that consumers are less than truthful in interview situations is hardly news. When I read this I had the voice of Claude Rains in my head (“I’m shocked, shocked…!), because I’ve been doing this long enough to know better, and I’m hardly alone in my view of this topic. read more…

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The Truth is Out There—Shoppers Armed with Smartphones Are Here to Stay

2013 September 19

The Google Shopper Marketing Council has been making the rounds with some new research about how consumers are using mobile devices to shop. There are a number of interesting statistics in the findings, along with several ideas for dealing with the change in shopper behavior. Woman researching with mobile device in grocery store

For me, the most interesting part was not new at all. I showed the stats to some retail folks I know; a couple of operators, and a couple of marketers. The response was unanimous: “I don’t know if I believe that.” read more…

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Out of Stocks Are the Elephant in the Room

2013 July 9
by Jeff Weidauer

There’s a pervasive problem at retail that we all know about, but even technological leaps and logistical expertise seem unable to correct. Out of stocks, or stock-outs, have presented what appears to be an insurmountable problem for retailers for years.

Long term stock-outs tend to be the result of poor shelf management, when stock crews cover holes, hide tags and try to keep things “faced over.” The good news is that there are solutions to reducing out of stocks, and while it’s not economically practical to get to zero, reducing them by even one percent can have a significant impact on sales. Applying stricter standards and recognizing and filling holes quicker can reduce out of stock levels by half or more. And the tools to do so are available now.

So far this year we’ve seen both Walgreens and Walmart called out for their out of stock problems, which appear to be getting worse. But neither of these retailers is any worse than any other. The overall out of stock problem in the U.S. is about eight percent according to a 2007 study funded by P&G and supported by the NACDS and the GMA. That same study points out that the sales loss for high-demand items is some six times higher; in other words, shoppers experience out of stocks at a 25 percent rate.

Here’s the really interesting part: 75 percent of stock-outs are caused at store level. That’s why logistical experts like Walmart still have difficulty here. It’s not the supply chain, but the store itself that is the heart of the problem.  In fact, at least 25 percent of out of stock items are in the store – just not on the shelf. That doesn’t help much when shoppers leave without an item they came in for, which happens to one in 10.

That’s bad enough, but consider that continuing out of stocks – when a previously available item is no longer there after three visits – drive 25 shoppers per store per week to go elsewhere. What retailer can afford to lose 25 shoppers a week? Substitutions are a rarity – most shoppers will either wait or buy the missing item somewhere else.

Out of stocks present one of the greatest challenges retailers face today – bigger than showrooming or many of the myriad other opportunities retailers face every day. It’s time we conquered this problem once and for all, but rather than look outside the store, the solution lies at the shelf.

VEST-1526-OutofStock-blog-graphic

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