This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either ... they are similar, but not exactly the same. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.
Hi, Kevin Coupe here, and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
A little over a month ago, I did an Eye-Opener about Staples. The company had just announced a voice-enabled Easy Button that it said would allow people to order products even more easily, using technology similar to that being employed by Amazon in its Echo/Alexa system. It happened that the same week, I'd gone through the laborious process of going to my local Staples to get a new chair for my office, which was an awful experience.
My point was this - that as important as it is for traditional retailers to embrace new technologies and find new ways to connect to shoppers, it is just as important to create a store experience that is compelling to the customer. "Omnichannel" is a word that probably is overused, but if bricks-and-mortar stores really want to compete with Amazon, they really have to focus on the in-store experience.
That means a differentiated physical experience. And it means having people who add to the experience, not make it worse.
Even in a world of e-commerce and technology, the physical experience matters. If the bricks-and-mortar are thrown together haphazardly, they won't serve as any sort of advantage at all.
My argument last month was that Staples didn't do any of these things. All they did was make me never want to shop there again.
And so it was more than a little ironic that when I was driving by the other day, I noticed that the Staples store that was so awful now is closed.
There probably are plenty of reasons that this unit closed, but I have to believe that at least part of the reason it wasn't worth keeping open is that the company and its people did absolutely nothing to make it worth keeping open.
That's the bottom line. I've been to other Staples stores where the experience was almost as bad as it was here. I f they don't fix this basic problem - lackluster stores, people who don't care, adding up to a retail experience that is barely mediocre - there are going to be a lot more of these dotting the landscape.
That's a lesson every retailer should take seriously.
That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: