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Monday, June 8, 2015

Little stuff generates big stuff

I have two big box retailers near me and they are both competing for the local business

So I go to Big Box A looking for a hardware item and some screws and maybe a new cordless tool set

The item is not in stock (well they actually stock what looks like to be 5 items of that SKU) and has been so for several weeks

The screws I needed in the length were also not in stock but I could buy a super contractor package for $$$ (Do I need 1200 of these screws?)

Cordless tools on sale? yep

So now I go the next day to Big Box B which a brand news store freshly stocked

After hide and seek with staff and not able to find a hardware specialist on duty in their assigned aisle I strike out again...they do not have it or they do have it but no one knows where it is

I am lucky that they have the screws I need but they do not have the ones designed for decks. I need the screws to not rust and must be strong enough to be drilled without the Robertson head becoming round when driving in with a cordless drill. (trust me the quality have hardware has been on  a long decline)

I also thought that maybe the hardware item I needed was in the trailer section. "Sorry we do not have any trailers or parts" Are you sure because your competitor does....."let me go check"...after about ten minutes I figure i will just leave and I bump into the CSR and ask him again "Oh Ok let me go check!" wait did i not just ask you that 10 minutes ago....."blank stare"

I am starting to understand why people may just buy online and let the Big Box guys figure out where all the customers have gone

Now here is the secret from a few expert online shoppers I know that constantly tell me how they haven't been in a store for a long time

If you buy online you can save a bunch of money and get free shipping too once you know what you want. Crowdsourced product reviews become your friend and you save time as well

Big Box retailers will survive but only if they train staff, help staff become more knowledgeable, have staff excited to help customers, have staff go a bit extra to help you, train staff, have staff become more interested in your buying journey, have staff in the store to help customers.

When a customer comes in your store they are there to buy and if they cannot buy they go elsewhere and may never come back

Many customers that shop at the Big Box stores actually need help in making a buying decision so have staff to help them and the cash register will ring on the way out.

I am a visual touchy feely shopper so if i am going to spend hundreds of dollars on a new cordless tool kit then I should not only get to try the product out, handle the product and be able to ask questions from knowledgeable staff.

I understand manufacturers are already thinking that they can improve their margins buy selling products on-line direct to the consumer and cutting out the retailer directly. The retailer offers no value except for a website landing page. The Big Box retailer doesn't have to worry about have trained staff anymore.

If I want to buy a Johnny 20V BRP Tool combo then i can just get it from and save 25%, get free shipping, be able to talk to experts and maybe buy an extended warranty at the same time. Do I really need to go to the Big Box anymore? If I want to engage with live people then this is a great way to buy stuff.

Now if I was that manufacturer I could also bundle a special Big Box discounter bundle and the in-person shopper could go there and make their purchase in the morning, charge up the batteries over lunch and start working on their home improvement project all within the same day.  I can them put the $200 savings in the Family Trip jar

You cant do that with an online sale and you cant do that with a Big Box retail store if no one can help you while you stand in the aisle looking around perplexed

so electronics Big Box A buys electronics Big Box B and (shuts down the other store in the same plaza) and focuses on Ecommerce as well

soon hardware Big Box A buys hardware Big B and focuses on eCommerce as well

soon hardware manufacture A and hardware manufacture B decide that the stock price can improve if we just eliminate the middleman and focus on improved Ecommerce

soon the new merged Big Box has less stuff to sell and finds that a Mid Box or Small Box store is the new shopping experience....this becomes the rage across North America

So now we are back to where retailing started where consumers drove down to the local small format hardware store to talk to Bud and get what they needed, some advice and some valuable help and left $1000 in that cash register as a token of their appreciation.

As my dad once said "if you want to buy bread then you go to the bakery where its still warm from the oven and the baker is happy to see you or go to the grocery store where it was made the day before, pay the same price and no one is happy to see you"

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