Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's my store, and I'll do what I want.

What the Utility of Extra points to, in my opinion, is the supremacy of product.

A store works if it sells product.

I spend most of my time trying to find, to afford, and display product.

I was just reading an article online that was talking about the future of brick and mortar stores.
It advised, more or less, that stores mimic the online experience, adopt the online techniques, bring online into the store.

The article advises that store tailor their business to the future tastes of the customers.

For me, this is exactly wrong.

I call that chasing the customer.

Instead, what I prefer to do, is create the setting, fill it with what I think is neat stuff, and hope that there are enough customers who like what I have that I stay in business.

It comes from the inside out, not the other way around.

Oh, I adapt the store to the response, but ultimately, the original impulse comes from me. That's what I like about it. I could sell widgets based on some sort of foreordained plan, like say a franchise, and that would be incredibly boring. Like working for someone else.

Nothing pleases me more than finding a really neat thing, getting it in the store, and then seeing that really neat thing discovered by the public. I can't tell you the number of times I've brought something in that no one has heard of, only to have a flurry of articles come out about that really neat thing that no one had heard of. And I have it. Already in the store.

In other words, my job is to find the really neat stuff, and then expose it and proselytize it, until other people also realize it's really neat.

I think the future of brick and mortars will be to create a unique experience -- to carry stuff no one else has, with a different focus and mixture. And that pretty much has to come from the owner. He has to seek out that material, find a way to afford it, find a way to display it.

Best-seller lists, are a great example. Everyone else has the same books. Probably at cheaper prices.

But a unique title, or author, or subject matter, or even cover -- something that isn't on the Amazon website unless you already know about it, physically present and talked about by a flesh and bone person. THAT'S the future of bookstores.

It so happens, that's the same response I had to the big chainstores. So ironically, many of the small mom and pop's are already doing what they need to survive the digital future.

Keep on being a real, physical, brick and mortar store -- don't try to copy the online experience -- go the opposite direction.

If nothing else, you'll enjoy it more.


Duncan McGeary said...

As well, the more stuff you have and the more unique it is, the more you can stick to your price.

Which makes it possible to get more stuff.

You want to try to create this dynamic, instead of constantly discounting, churning cash, but not making enough to get anything but the basics.

And, the more you have and the more unique it is, the more you can cater to the minority of customers -- that is, quit worrying about the majority of customers who want the everyday stuff cheap -- because as a small store, you can't get those people anyway.

One of the hardest things to learn is to let those customers go -- not chase them with price, or carrying a product that is everywhere else.

RDC said...


A bit of data that might impact your thoughts on your B&N stock.

On another site, one that deals with cruises, someone ran a survey in the Carnival Cruise Line board.

It asked what were people taking to read on the cruise with three options:

or Book(s)

The response surprised me in that it was 47% Kindle, 28% Nook, and 25% Book(s). The adoption of e-book readers appears to be accelerating at a much faster pace than expected.

Now this is a amoung a group that can afford to and do travel so it is not a complete demographics, but if anything it shows adoption in people over 40 at a very fast clip.

Anonymous said...

Good points RDC but I like Duncan's assertion even more -- do what feels cool to HIM, and let the customers follow. This has been the model for me (in a complete different type of career), and honestly it's been working so far (knock on wood).

When I walk into Dunc's store I go "cool" and that's because he's doing something a bit different than anyone else. In short, follow your heart.

Anonymous said...

Like Obama – who has prosecuted more whistleblowers than any president in history – Nixon had no sympathy for "snitches", and no interest in the US public learning the truth about their government


OBAMA bigger asshole that NIXON, who could have guessed, ... dunc still loves his asshole

Anonymous said...

But there's a difference. Richard Nixon never had the heroic whistleblower of his day thrown in solitary confinement and tortured. If only the same could be said for Barack Obama.