From Your Customer to Theirs – A Shopper’s Love Affair With Retailers

download (50)Dear Retailer, You was my darling once. I loved coming to you again and again and shop from your store. I enjoyed the company you provided in terms of your expert advisors, friendly associates, and knowledgeable staff. You have always made my day and I have always ended up paying you back by spending more money than I planned in your stores.

It was a love affair that no one else but Only You are responsible for breaking.

It all starts when the word digital shopping comes into our lives. It was beautiful and convenient and I saw how it made my life easier. I started trolling to digital stores, as they allowed me to visit anytime I like and I could access them from anywhere in the world. The change was happening into the shopping world, and I’m sure you saw that coming too…

You were too slow to change into adopting new trends and was asleep at the wheel, while the digital world around you grew up fast. You allowed new players to emerge and the result is this 8,000lb. gorilla Amazon is now staring in your face, scaring the sh-t out of you. You can’t do anything to stop’m, except to hate’m. But you didn’t learn anything from the lessons and you are still too slow to change in adopting new technology, and that’s a shame. Instead, you are taking the easy routes to stay in business by closing stores, laying off the very best people who were the only competitive advantage you had in competing with digital store giants. To me, that’s a miserable route to doomsland or call it prolonging the agony.

You started to become a copycat, thinking of being lean and replacing your store sales with digital sales was your only strategy, so you built your digital storefronts. But you didn’t know what it takes to run the digital showrooms. It was all new to you. You had the money and resources to build the beautiful websites but didn’t know how to provide an amazing digital shopping experience. You struggled and failed. In a way its pretty much same as I like to master Snapchat, but don’t have a clue. For you it was too little too late. You are always late! Now you are on a miserable death row.

All of this happened, because in the process of transforming yourself into the digital era, you pushed me away from you. You took away the very reason I had to visit your stores and shop, you forgot that it was your awesome customer service team that was pulling me towards you. You provided me with an instant gratification when people didn’t coin that term and associated that with Millennials. You went too far in discouraging me from entering into your stores, you deliberately created hurdles by having no one available on the floor to service me, support me, you took away all of my friendly staff that was trained to make me happy and satisfied. The results were ugly long lines and giant deaf stores where no one cares. You succeeded in pushing me away to shop online, so you can save few extra dollars by reducing the staff that was there to provide customer’s happiness. You left me alone. I was lost and disappointed. I got rediscovered by the giants of the digital world, likes of Amazons. They fed me a constant digital shopping Koolaid, a taste of a new user experience and I was morphed into thinking that I don’t need you anymore.

But we all forget, that the basics of shopping are all about personalized experience and happiness. People do business with friendly people, that’s why 90% of shopping is still done in the physical stores. Since you have disbanded me and took away the friendly staff that was there to provide me with a great service and smile, I was left with no choice but to go elsewhere.

Amazon and other digital giants know this basic principle and they don’t want to repeat the same mistakes you have made. They know they can only grow so much from their digital store’s sales. They are now coming into your turf and opening physical stores and delivery hubs. They are after that 90% of people who still shops at physical stores and most likely will continue shopping for years to come. They want to engage with the buyers to provide them with the opportunity to see before buy, touch n feel the items, and get new personalized experiences. You can bet, they will be leveraging their cross-channel advantage in providing them with the best of both digital and physical retail shopping experience, that was your forte once and you were very good at making me happy and satisfied.

Alas, only if you could have known better and adopted the change. Kept your advantage and cool you had once, you could have been the leader in both digital and physical retail world. You had all the possibilities and resource. The only thing needed being to deliver the same in-store shopping experience you provided to your shoppers onto the digital fronts. You knew it better than anyone, how to please the customer. You should have engaged and serviced me wherever and whenever I wanted. The technology was always there. You could have given me the consistent in-store shopping experience in your digital stores on my mobile devices. I would have loved you more and could never be lost.

You pushed me away, to be founded by others, and now you are struggling to bring me back to you. I will forgive you once and come back to you. I still need you. You have the competitive advantage of having physical stores near me, available products on shelves, and whatever left of those few good people that can advise and help me with questions. But you have to promise me that from now on you will take good care of me. You will provide me with consistent and personalized service, whenever I need, across all platforms. You will give modern tools to your associates so they can deliver the best shopping experience that makes me happy, because now I am spoiled. This time, you have to earn me back, by becoming modern and leading from the technology front.