Reading in Drapers recently about a presentation of findings of their Customer Insight Report to a group of retailers, I was struck by a comment made by finance director of Allders Croydon Max Menon. "We compete against House of Fraser and Debenhams, and sell a lot of the same product. Customers are not very loyal, and will jump between the three shops to get the best bargains." I wondered whether I was the only person who jumped to the conclusion: well, why shouldn't they? If a customer is offered the same product at several different stores, why wouldn't they choose the cheapest option?
Reasons for customers to shop at a store, regardless of price, could include store atmosphere, attentive staff, loyalty schemes; services that go above and beyond the standard shopping experience. However, these are things that seem to be sadly lacking from the average high street store. If these factors are not present, especially in the current economic climate when consumers are scrutinising each purchase, then price is going to be the deciding factor.
Another problem I have with Menon's statement is the complaint that House of Fraser and Debenhams sell a lot of the same product. Surely the answer to this problem should be to offer their customers new and exciting product to tempt spending. Exclusivity has a huge appeal, and taking a risk on fresh product could result in rising sales figures. Implementing a proactive approach must be better than complaining and sticking to the same old brands that have saturated the market.
Perhaps the recession is the wake-up call required to motivate retailers to improve their offers and start considering their customers as more than just a source of profits and sales figures.