Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Future of Retail is not about the Stuff

What happens to non big-box retailers in the wake of the advance of the big box?

What is their reason to exist?

Obviously competing on price or product range is not going to cut it.

Well, PetSmart probably have one answer: Expertise and Services.

There is a specialist cycle shop near me that has a comparison chart on the wall showing the price of a bike at a big box store (about 20% less than their price) but below that we see a list of things (fitting it to the rider, tuning the bike etc.) listed as “free” for their offering but with a price attached for the big box. And the result is of course their offering is cheaper. Judging by the crowds at that store it is persuasive. The value of buying some someone who knows, who you trust, who you can chat with and who supports your choice is common across categories: video games, clothing, food. The services are an extension and support for that value.

Additional to that is the emotional pleasure of buying from someone who is passionate about the same thing you are. And people are certainly passionate about pets.

Good luck PetSmart.

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