By KELLIE CONNOLLY
Dying retail giants – I met your assassin the other day. He was agile, swift, ready to please and motivated to attack your bottom line. I was shocked at his arrival on my door-step. A smiling assassin, dressed in black. I welcomed him in.
The slayer was the internet and you were a lazy target. I tried you first, labored for a day in the sales with jumbled merchandise, chaos and desperate sales staff. In the department store I stood like a beggar, shoes in hand, trying to get service. Uh, hello? Excuse me? I just need another size. Forget it. I’m not one for queues. I went home exhausted and without my heels.
Someone in their 20s suggested the obvious. The internet. So I searched online. Page after page of “turquoise shoes” were offered. I chose my favourites and clicked a button. It wasn’t my first foray into internet shopping, but the most surprising.
I chose an Australian e-retailer and expected poor service. (I’ll get to that later) I got the opposite. Exactly 90 minutes after clicking on “buy” there was a “rat-a-tat-tat” at the door and there he was.
The delivery guy was dressed in a crisp black shirt and pants. He was smiling. He presented my box of shoes with a flourish. They were wrapped in a big, black bow. Like Cinderella’s slipper they fit. An experience to delight any modern day Princess.
The shoes were on sale. If they weren’t right I could send them back. And while I should declare I paid an extra $9.95 for same day delivery, the speedy arrival was a shock.
I’ve tested our Aussie based internet retailers before and the experience has been poor. I once purchased two of the same books online at the same time. One was from an Aussie book chain and another from Amazon in the States. The prices ended up the same. The US book arrived first and the Aussie book arrived two weeks later.
I use a brand of make-up you can only get at David Jones city store. I tried online, but the flailing retailer had a very limited website. So, after an early morning meeting I went to DJs flagship store in the busiest retail precinct in the country – Sydney city. The store was still closed. Opening is at 9.30am. I went to Myer and switched brands.
DJs has admitted it’s operating in the toughest retail climate in 20 years. It posted a staggering 40 per cent drop in profits last financial year.
I can’t help but think it’s partly its own fault. The iconic brand reminds us of everything retail used to be. It provides an indulgent shopping experience but is slow to evolve, slow to focus on web sales, is not moving from traditional opening hours and is smacking of desperation with sale after sale.
Myer, too, is suffering. It announced 100 job losses in August.
I was accused on Twitter of betraying the retail sector and advancing job losses by buying online. I’m sad about those job losses, but we are going through an evolution in the retail sector and I’m glad that Australian companies are catching on. It’s still about customer service, but the delivery of that service is changing. It has to.
If you believe the analysts watching this retail shift, Myer’s losses are another sector’s gain. In a report by management consultants McKinsey and Co it’s estimated for every job lost from the internet 2.5 others have been created.
Companies can evolve. Take phone manufacturer Nokia. Did you know it started as a pulp mill in 1865? It changed and morphed throughout the years ending up as the world’s largest phone manufacturer in 2012.
Interestingly it’s losing its foothold due to the popularity of smartphones. And guess what’s driving the online retail bonanza? Smart phones. It’s the fastest growing sector of online sales.
Nokia will have to evolve again. Perhaps they should get into the parcel delivery business?
Kellie Connolly is Principal of Connolly Communications, providing expert media training for corporations and individuals. You can find her website here.
Where do you shop? Are there certain products you prefer buying online? Is there any advantage to shopping the old fashioned way?