Showing posts with label Retail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Retail. Show all posts

June 25, 2019

Life = Growth

Thought this was an interesting photo at REI.

It says behind the cash registers:
People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. - Eleanor Roosevelt

The  background has this serene river flow--along with some obvious whitewater. 

But in front of it, the cash register area is hopping crazy and messy.

It's a contradiction--not unlike life itself which is full of it's own ups and downs that challenge us routinely. 

Life is where we get the experience that shapes us and strengthens us, as long as it does not break us.  

Life = Growth

Why else would we be here?

G-d is the best teacher. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 22, 2018

Black Thursday For Shopaholics


So Black Friday Shopping extravaganza that used to happen the day after Thanksgiving has now turned into Black Thursday mega-shopping on Thanksgiving Thursday.

The huge Sawgrass Mills Mall in Sunrise, Florida is open 10 AM to 1 AM!

The mall was packed with people and the deals were pretty fantastic.  

Under Armour was 50% off!

True Religion was buy 1 get 1 free!

Almost every store seemed to be 1/2 price off already reduced prices.

What I liked in this video I took here was the WOW! display around the entire entrance to this Century 21 apparel store.

Watch the whole thing...it is really cool what they did with this frontage real estate for this store. 

Great job on the marketing and very inviting!

So lots of compulsive shopping, but not so much turkey today. ;-)

(Source video: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 30, 2018

Dumb Socks

So have you ever gone to the shoe store, but you forgot to wear socks. 

Well, this is what you get to try-on shoes.

These absolutely crappy, thin, brownish wades of disposable nylon socks. 

How completely unappealing--especially piled up like this and looking like they are getting reused again and again. 

The try-on socks look shitty, feel shitty, and don't help you try-on anything, because they aren't the same density or texture as regular socks. 

Talk about penny wise and dollar foolish--if the store won't even invest in a proper pair of socks for their customers, then how much do they value their business? 

How about an intelligent shoe store with a little class that actually has some real pairs of socks for their customers, and when you're done they send them out to the cleaners or maybe even let you keep the pair if you buy the shoes!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 26, 2018

Amazon's Dangerous Genius

I am marveling at the Genius of Amazon and Jeff Bezos but also concerned about their future direction. 

Traditionally, they have invested for the long-haul!

For years, Amazon never made a dime, actually operating at a loss.

But all the time making long-term investments in infrastructure (warehouses, supply chain, logistics, etc.) and in customer acquisition. 

Their great selection, reasonable pricing, free shipping, and easy return policy lured hundreds of millions of people to drop the brick-and-mortar stores and even other online retailers to go Amazon all the way. 

Most people I know get virtually everything and anything on Amazon these days. 

Of course, the fear always was that Amazon would become such a dominant player and monopoly that no one else could compete. 

For a long time, they didn't even charge sales tax!

It seems people can't even imagine not having Amazon--where in the world would they shop and get all their stuff in 2-days or less (Prime Customers) and still be able to return all the crap they don't even want. 

So here is the rub.

Now that Amazon is so dominant, guess what?  They are raising the Prime Rates and cutting back on returns--with customers actually being banned for returning too much. 

Ah, the lure, bait and switch. 

Amazon got us all as their slave customers--and we let them and love them for it. 

And after they snared us with all the convenience and security of being able to return stuff, they pull the rug and what can you do, but cry foul?

I love Amazon for their genius and what they have done for eCommerce, but I don't like that they've built in a sense a dark empire to prey on their loyal customer base. 

Mr. Bezos, here is my message to you...

Please stay true to your ideals of customer-centricity and long-term investment in the company that has been the foundation for what you have built into such a retail juggernaut.  

Keep valuing your customers and serving them well and not trading them in for short-term profit gain.

In the end, that is a winning strategy that won't land you in either regulatory hell and/or antitrust action to then force you to bend your knee or your ultimate breakup. 

Remember, you have one chance to make the right decision for Amazon or I fear that it's not product returns that you'll be for long worrying about. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 14, 2018

Valentine's Day Fashion Wow!

Now, how perfect is this guy's suit?

I can't imagine who would make such a thing, but WOW!

This guy is a walking Mr. Charming. 

Forget the sales job in the jewelry store, I would put him right on the "The Bachelor" season whatever. 

Who isn't going to fall in love with this guy?  
"Matchmaker matchmaker make me a match.
Find me a find.
Catch me a catch."
Love wins over hate...

Happy Valentine's Day!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 16, 2017

Sexuality Sells Sometimes

So this was the entranceway to a store in Florida. 

As you can see, the center mannequin is set up sitting in not a very modest way for a lady. 

And worse, there is a little boy mannequin situated right next to her. 

It was funny to see people stop to look at this fake sexual scene.

But no amount of sexuality could sell the junk that the store was pushing. 

So strutting your stuff or showing a little skin--or in this case hard plastic--may get the customer's attention or even in the store.

However, it certainly doesn't close the deal, although something else here would be better off shut or as my mother-in-law says, "close your yap!" ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 26, 2017

Camera Of Life

So this open-door market has no workers there.

Someone comes in to stock the shelves periodically, and that's it!

It's completely automated of workers, and only has this automated kiosk for check-out. 

As you shop, there are cameras watching you, so you don't steal anything. 

Then you go to the checkout and like in other stores, you scan you items and pay with your credit card, but the difference is that it's without anyone else around at all.

Can you imagine someone would leave there business and there is no one watching you, except the cameras.

You're on your honor system. 

Just think how much money the owner saves by not having to stand there or hire someone to stand there all day. 

He can have 10 or 100 or 1,000 of these stores and no daily labor to pay for. 

Talk about people losing their jobs to automation and robotics!

So even if someone does steal 1 or 2 things, it's a minor loss to the owner compared to paying someone to stand there and check people out all day (salary, benefits, payroll taxes, workers comp insurance, and more). 

What if the camera isn't even real and it's just a dark cone, so you are just left to think that you're being surveilled...another savings for the owner. 

Now imagine if we all internalized this thought in life that we were under the watchful eye of our Maker, and everyone would do the right thing even when no one else was there watching. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 18, 2016

Paint Can Art

Thought this was pretty cool art in Anthropologie in Washington, DC.

It was different paint cans attached to the wall in the store in a colorful display. 

To go with this paint theme, they also had paint brushes (dry of course, but they looked wet with colored paint) hanging from the ceiling. 

Anyway, in the back of the store, there was a beautiful new rug that I got for my daughter--it was a real find (and sort of looks like this paint display in terms of colors, but very refined and feminine for her with gorgeous flowers and a rich texture).  

Anyway, she loved it and I ended up getting a pretty good deal on it, so I was happy too. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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February 3, 2016

Bodega D.C.

This little deli and grocery in downtown D.C. always reminds me of the spanish bodegas back in NYC. 

The smallish store has just a couple of aisles of stuffed shelves of all sort of fast food eatsies. 

Usually not very organized, but more like you see something from all the grab it type foods and drinks and just go for it. 

Signs are handwritten and taped on to shelves, doors, and counters. 

Food packages jut out from shelves into the aisles and frequently get knocked down by customers on to the floors of the narrower aisles. 

Pour your own cup of coffee or softdrink.

Sandwiches in the back are freshly made while you wait and come heaping with toppings and the price written with a black marker on the celaphane wrapping. 

The store is laidback and informal with the proprietor at the counter reading from his newspaper as people come by to check out and he looks up between paragraphs.

Very working class and for students in the area, the lines can get long to the door at lunch hour. 

A little unkept and no place to sit and dawdle--this is a get in and get out little neighborhood store. 

A big contrast with the cookie-cutter chain stores and franchises--this is mom and pop style. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 25, 2015

Footsies at Comfort One

So lately my feet have been hurting me. 

My wife tells me, "Go to Comfort One for new shoes."

I say, "But I don't want to go get nerdy shoes there."

Like in most arguments, my wife wins and in I march, reluctantly, to the store. 

First, they take this scan of my feet (something that looks like the picture above) to show me where my foot is getting pressure (and pain).

Okay, well I already know this, but when you see all the red on the picture, I guess it helps to scare you to getting an expensive new pair of orthopedic-like shoes. 

But first, they sell me on some arch supports that slides into the shoe...they seem to feel pretty good, and in fact, after walking around in them for a little while, I actually miss them when I finally take them off. 

Give me back those darn arch supports, will ya?

Next, we see these amazing Mephisto shoes (with "soft-air technology")...made in Europe...the salesman says, their built like a tank. 

My wife says, "Oh, my aunt told me to get those too!" We now have a bona fide endorsement. 

I pick up the shoe on display and it look like it is pretty rugged with all the right support for walking around...maybe I got to get over that it looks to me like old people shoes (from Haband). 

Hey, what do you want Andy--to feel good on your feet or to look like your 18 again. 

Okay, I try them on...with the arch supports inserted...and what do you know, I am walking a heck of a lot better.

Well, what about the price...holy crap, I can get 3 pairs of cool shoes at REI for one of these nerdy pairs. 

Oh darn it, I have no choice...I am walking better, especially with the hip surgeries from last year still looming behind me. 

I get the shoes, I get the arches...I pay the money--too much money!

I feel nerdy or so nerdy, but maybe I'm going for the healing power, G-d willing, of a good pair of supportive shoes. 

My wife was right again, and I hate to admit it, but please don't tell her I said so--it's bad for her ego and mine. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 24, 2015

Where's The Value?

So I don't know how I feel about this or maybe I do. 

The Wall Street Journal reports today that from the 10 largest companies by market capitalization:

1) The top 3 are technology companies

- Apple $679B
- Alphabet (Google's Parent) $489B
- Microsoft $422B

2) Moreover, a full 5 (half) of the top 10 are technology companies

That includes the 3 above and the other 2 below:

- Facebook $288B
- Amazon $280B

As a technology person, I am thrilled at the impact that IT has on our society. 

We are no longer the same thanks to our Apple iPhones, Google Search, Microsoft's business tools like Outlook, Office and SharePoint, Facebook's social networking, and Amazon's online shopping. 

But to think that these information capabilities outweigh by value everything else in society that we need as people is somewhat astounding.

For example, the other 5 of the top 10 companies are:

- Exxon Mobil (Oil and Gas) $346B 
- Berkshire Hathaway (Insurance, Utilities, Clothing, Building Products, Retail, Flight Services) $340B
- General Electric (Power and Water, Oil and Gas, Energy Management, Aviation, Healthcare, Transportation) $298B
- Wells Fargo (World's Largest Bank) $280B
- Johnson and Johnson (Pharmaceuticals) $278B

So when you add these behemoths up--this is what we have:

The 5 top technology companies are worth $2.158T

Vs.

The top 5 traditional companies from all the other industries combined are worth only $1.542T

Net it out:

The largest representative IT companies are worth $616B or 40% more than the other major companies combined.

(In fact, just the top 3 IT companies at $1.56T are worth more than the top 5 other companies at $1.542T.) 

Sure IT growth has been on a tear for the last couple of decades and we love everything futuristic it brings us. 

But isn't it a little scary to think that the companies that meet all our other needs from food, clothing, shelter, medicine, transportation, energy, finance, retail, etc. isn't worth more to us than just the IT alone. 

Perhaps adding it up from a value perspective just doesn't add up in a real life perspective. 

I love technology and want more and more of it, but man does not live by technology alone. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 16, 2015

B&N Chairs Are The Pits

So if you ever go to Barnes and Nobles, you'll see that they have the most horribly hard wooden chairs. 

They are so  uncomfortable--many people seem to rather sprawl out on the floor to browse the magazines and books, rather then get a butt bender in those darn chairs. 

Some other people that I've seen now have resorted to placing cushy stuffed animals on the chairs to ease the discomfit on the arse!

I took this picture of someone's chair by the window with 2 stuffed animals left over after what must've been a much needed cushion liner on the the bare wood. 

[BTW, sorry for whoever buys those sat on, smelled on stuffed animals afterwards--ew!]

The question is why invite people in to browse and sit--if you are only going to make them so uncomfortable.

Ok, I get the implicit message, "You can read for a few minutes, but otherwise buy something or get the h*ck out!"

And not that they are wrong (they aren't), but why resort to making people physically uncomfortable and forcing them to leave instead of making everything welcoming and encouraging shopping and sales.

Barnes and Nobles--a nice place to visit for 20 minutes as long as you have some stuffed animals for your butt--but Amazon will reign bookstore supreme. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 13, 2015

Customers Gone Stinkin' Wild

I took this photo yesterday in a Home Goods store. 

This is the aisle for rugs and mats. 

And it is a disaster zone!

I asked the clerk (with the orange apron on) knelling on the floor at the end of the aisle if the customers did this.

And he said, "Oh yes!" and he had to clean it all up. 

My G-d, what gets into people? 

It's one thing to shop--pick things up and put them down--but throwing everything all over and trashing the place--stuff on the floors and literally left dangling off the shelves. 

And forgetting for a moment what this does to other people's shopping experience and the potential loss of sales for the store...

How about we think for a moment about the poor guy working in the store to earn a few bucks for his family who now has to go on and his knees to clean up this pigfest? 

Is this really shopping or for some people perhaps it's is a way of venting their anger by choosing to sh*t on the innocent next guy.

Gee whiz folks--can you have a heart? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 12, 2015

Try That On!

So we took my daughter to the Free People boutique store at the Mall. 

That brand has such a cool clothing style (although a little pricey)--everything is sort of hippyish, natural, eloquent, cool grunge, and feminine with lace, beads, frills, ruffles, and more. 

As we went through the store, we noticed the amazing fitting rooms with heavy tapestry-type curtains and these beautiful flowers hanging plentifully from the ceiling--ushering you to try out their clothes. 

My daughter ended up getting a nice bag there, but the clothing also looks amazing and fits perfectly with her fashion sense. 

It was interesting for me to learn that Free People was started by the same couple in the 1970's that founded Urban Outfitters. 

Two retail success stories--but Free People is not only the cooler name, but the better clothing line. 

Be Free People!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 8, 2014

They Ain't Nothing


So Microsoft has tried to do the copycat thing of the Apple Store. 

See Apple (top photo) streaming with customers trying out their world-class computers and smartphones yesterday. 

See Microsoft (photo underneath) just a few storefronts down in the mall with nice vibrant colors, but just a handful of customers (the non-red shirts) in the entire place.

BTW, I took a look at the iPhone 6 Plus and liked the size (I thought I wouldn't) and ordered one (will be nice I hope to actually see the screen on this thing). 

At the same time, I tried the Microsoft Surface, and my wife says to me can you videotape me showing how long it takes to actually try to figure this thing out--piece of garbage!

It was also confusing why the Microsoft store was selling Dells and other companies computing devices--Ah, maybe because they don't have anything competitive of their own???

Microsoft great try with the overall store (Touche!) but you just don't have the retail products to compete with Apple--and the piles of Xbox in the rear of the store to draw people in--that wasn't working either. 

Microsoft still a winner at enterprise computing, but Apple hands-down has you on personal computing--everyone to their corners. ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 6, 2014

10 Reasons To Love Traders Joe's and 2 To Not

There are many reasons to love Trader Joe's, but here's my top 10 (can you tell I just came from there?):

1) Pretty much you can depend that their food is good and fresh, and a lot of it is readymade and "convenient". 

2) Prices are a value considering much of what they sell is private label, premium, or super premium--like the "Belgium chocolate" above!

3) They have many items in single-serve portions, so the food is easy to make, clean up, and store. 

4) The stores are relatively small, clean, well lit, and cozy with a limited number of goods, making shopping quick and easy--they've already narrowed the field for you. 

5) They have freebies to taste in the aisles--tonight it was 2 types of coffee and a pumpkin cheesecake sample--the check out guy asked me if I had a chance to try it--uh, not on my diet, but thanks!

6) They have a cool customer service bell in front that they ring whenever you need something done--tonight it was as simple as replacing a package that had opened up--ring, ring--a clerk brought up a brand new one, jiffy quick. 

7) They double bag the goods, so the bags don't break on the way home and the goodies don't fall out. 

8) Typically convenient locations in major shopping areas and short lines inside...never have to wait more than one person ahead on the line. 

9) They are eco-friendly and have lot's of stuff that is organic, non-genetically modified, and without artificial anything. 

10) They ask you--and seem to mean it--if you found everything okay with your shopping experience, and seem more than ready to correct anything that was less than perfect. 

Despite these wonderful traits, there is something about Trader Joe's that's Normal Rockwell all smiley, small-townish annoying and claustrophobic, especially in the age of the more modern megastore supermarkets and Costco warehouses.

So it's not the only store I go to--variety is still the spice of life. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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Dress With Air Conditioning

This was a very cool outfit, indeed. 

This lady in Florida is wearing a dress that is closed/covered up in front, but open--except for these threads, literally--in the behind.

I am fairly sure this was not cheap and someone definitely put a lot of thought into designing it. 

It certainly gets some attention as it's a little unexpected.

Anyway, she was actually a very nice lady who helped me with some ties. 

A good dresser too.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 28, 2014

Micromanaging Your Customers

Standing in line at the store the other day, I've got to to say that I sort of really resented this ridiculous check out line.

We are not in kindergarten and do not need little footsies and signs to tell us where to stand, how far apart, and who is up next in the line.

Actually, it's really not all that complicated--we can figure out to lineup in front of the counter and wait our turn civilly.

Micromanaging your customers (or for that matter your employees) is a pretty stupid idea.

Get your own house in order--and do a good job servicing the people that are paying you (or working to make you a success).

How about you take your little feet over behind the counter and get the line moving that much faster and stop making us wait so long to begin with to give you our business.

Happy Black Friday...loosen the reins a little won't you and you'll find a happier customer (and employee) base and make some more money in the process. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 26, 2014

Goods AND Serices --> AMAZON

Really like what I read yesterday...Amazon is expanding from selling goods to also adding services.

Amazon is the #1 stop for just about any daily purchase (except things like cars and houses, which I think Amazon will eventually consider for an acquisition in the future as well). 

With their nearly effortless shopping experience, free shipping (for "Prime" customers), and easy returns, it is eCommerce as it was meant to be!

Now according to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is adding local service providers from plumbers to electricians.

The cross-selling possibilities are luring--so that as you purchase a household item, up pops local services providers for someone to install or service the item--it's all integrated.

Moreover, Amazon will do background checks on these service partners, determine if they have liability insurance, and offer a money-back guarantee on the services rendered (Oy vey to Craigslist and Angie's List).

Amazon is a brilliant retailer, once they have holodeck like virtual reality experience where you can simulate actually being next the goods to look at them, feel them, even try them (on), then we will achieve shopping nirvana and will never have to enter a Best Buy or other useless and obsolete bricks and mortar retailer again. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Yo Mostro)

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January 8, 2014

Amazing Amazon

So Amazon should be renamed Amazing, because they are.

They are the best online retailer--love 'em!

SELECTION: Amazon has everything. 

PRICE: Amazon is reasonably priced.

SPEED: Amazon Prime gets you your goodies delivered in under 48 hours. 

RETURNS: Amazon takes returns easily; virtually no questions asked. 

Amazon is so customer focused that you can even email Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO himself, at Jeff@Amazon.com. 

Aside from their highly successful retail operation, they have the Kindle tablets, Amazon Web Services (AWS) for cloud computing, Kiva Robots for warehouse operations, and more. 

So what's the secret of their success?

One thing, according to the Wall Street Journal, is their tough hiring practices. 

Amazon has "several hundred" interviewers called "Bar Raisers" that give candidates extremely thorough interviews.

Bar Raisers typically have conducted "dozens or hundreds of interviews and gained a reputation for asking tough questions and identifying candidates who go on to become stars."

Typically, it "takes five or six employees at least two hours each" to evaluate and vet an applicant. 

Amazon makes all this effort in recruiting to weed out people who are the wrong fit for the company. 

They believe that it's better to invest in a sophisticated recruiting process than to make costly hiring mistakes. 

While this certainly sounds like a well thought out and vigorous hiring process, the article makes little to no mention of performance measures showing that their hires really are better matches, have superior performance, or stay with the company longer. 

The one anecdote given was of a Bar Raiser who found a candidate for a programming job that "didn't know much about the specific programming language."

Barring some real statistics though, either you could conclude that Amazon's hiring process is truly superior or perhaps question why it takes them 5 to 6 interviews to do what other successful companies do in 1 or 2. 

Either way though, Amazon is a amazingly great company. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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