Tag Archives for Best Buy
An MBA grad might look at the retail business and define success as increasing revenue, decreasing overhead, eliminating cost overruns, etc. The casual observer might even look at stories about the decline of retail and make the judgement that online is beating offline to death simply by offering price satisfaction and ease of use.
It turns out that maybe these are not entirely clear lines in the sand. We have had a series of conversations online and offline with some retailers, consumers and analysts, and we have created a collection of interesting perspectives on the jobs that retail (online and offline) get done for people.
It turns out that success will come to retail box stores and even retail online through the practice of relevancy, something that online media does well and that retailers everywhere are learning how to deliver.
In the offline world, relevancy is the emotional core of choice. It’s like content, but it’s normally delivered through people. It’s subtle. It’s based on a gentle push and pull of asking questions and seeking answers.
What relevancy in shopping does is it shifts the job of retail shopping from one of just getting a product to one of resolving an emotional “why.” We found this out by asking people about their experiences.
We asked Quora members following the Jobs-to-Be-Done Approach what was missing in the current retail experience in big box bricks and mortar stores, and we found two great answers. I also talked to Alexandra Mysoor, co-founder and CEO of online retailer Generation Orange, an online-only retail store for natural products.
Jason Calacanis has it right: Amazon Prime is a cult, but it’s a highly efficient cult that is revamping how consumers get the job of retail therapy done.
We need to look at two things here. If we re-visit the blog post from yesterday that said Best Buy is not experiencing impending bankruptcy, we might have to revise our thesis — that Best Buy has a long way to go before the end of retail as we know it knocks them into retail’s version of urban blight.
Calcanis tells us why online retail works so much better. In addition to giving people 250 hours of their life back each year, it also gives them ease of ordering, and a slew of products that stuffy-nosed irascible retail guinea pigs prevent us from seeking.
“Let’s call it four to six hours of retail experiences a week, or 20 to 25 hours a month per household. Including holiday shopping you’re looking at 250 hours a year you’re inside a retail location experiencing some combination of time-regret, stress, boredom and/or annoyance.
Cult members understand there is not only no joy in traditional shopping, but that it’s filled with annoyance and wasted time.
Cult members understand there can be joy, and time savings, associated with intelligent consumption.
Prime gives you the joy of consumption without the pain of acquisition.”
The Pain of Acquisition?
I like this phrase. yes, there is pain there.
The pain comes when consumers, who kind of know what they want are assaulted visually and sensorily by a marauding salesperson disguised as a customer service teenager, or grousing middle-aged resentment-filled employee, who is not careful enough, doesn’t care enough, isn’t well trained enough, or not aware enough and maybe even not experienced enough to look at retail shopping as a optential relationship-building experience.
Of course, how could retail shopping be such a thing?
It’s different than a grocery store. Most people go to grocery stores regularly, they get to know the cashiers and the clerks.
Not in things like electronic goods retail. It’s an in-and-out experience. Drop in, get what you need, sortie back at the house. As Larry Downes showed us yesterday, there is a mismanagement of the customer experience in retail. People are not trained well to help consumer’s discover that which they didn’t know they seek.
Of course, as we also said yesterday, consumers don’t necessarily come into retail with the best of moods. Well, whatever, not much we can do about people’s pouty faces.
But if a cult exists, then that cult must be helping people get a job done — for Calcanis this is the easing of the pain of acquisition.
The problem is there is also a pain of retail trade-offs. If we move to Prime and follow that cult, somebody suffers. It’s not the managerial talent. It’s the retail masses, the people we should be training to be better at customer choice and consumer innovation.
Retail outlets and fast-moving consumer companies should be employing a “jobs to be done” framework to train their staff to be jsut as good in person as semantic search, SEO algorithms, and cataloging of products is on the web.
If not, there’s an economic cataclysm about to happen, much worse than a single Best Buy chain going out of business.
Now, the only downside to Prime’s ascendancy is that it’s going to wipe out tens of thousands of retail jobs that are currently filled by the least employable of our workforce.
It’s not a jump to say that many of these retail jobs are filled by folks who have *already* taken a huge career nosedive from the middle class to the just-above poverty level of retail workers.
They’re going to get fracked twice in 20 years: first getting knocked from the white collar or blue collar middle class to the retail working-class jobs, and then to no jobs.
I guess you can’t get massive efficiency like Amazon is building without wiping out massive amounts of jobs.
And I think Amazon’s massive growth will actually crater the real estate business as malls and main streets are faced with unfillable retail spaces. What do we do with the malls, turn them into office and loft spaces? university space?
Playing out the scenario, does this new flood of new office and living space put downward pressure on traditional office space?
The Re-Wired Group helps companies and, by extension, these employees, out of the rut of consumer choice gone unadressed.
Take a look at some of the writing from the Re-Wired Group, which could guide you through this kind of thinking. Also, remember Clayton Christensen, the father of this movement. His work on consumer innovation is eye-opening, to say the least.
The clumsy salesperson is someone who has bothered all of us, I would bet. He’s bothered me before, when the customer service rep helping me with a billing problem with Time Warner Cable in New York unveiled himself as a stealth salesperson who tried to sell me on a data package, a cable tv package (even though I don’t own a TV), and, I don’t know, maybe even dentistry services. I stopped listening and ended the call.
The clumsy salesperson really pissed off this Forbes writer, who uses his friend’s interaction with a young sales pup trying to sell a TV services package into one of the reasons he thinks Best Buy is going out of business.
What happens when one bad experience, and a bunch of data that are really not about the shopping experience lead a blogger to forecast the downfall of a retail electronics giant?
What you get is a revelation that is certainly very true — the pivot from offline only selling to online selling, and all the engineered components of making that work well, is jarring and hard to manage.
But, are we seeing Best Buy go bankrupt? Or are we seeing not just a switch in Best Buy, but a pivot of the entire market?