business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got another email, this one from MNB reader Rich Heiland, about Kate McMahon's column about the need for culture change at so-called omnichannel retailers where in-store personnel are resistant to the idea of taking back merchandise sold online:

I found Kate's take on her retail experience interesting. She is dead on that the future is all about the customer experience. Period. Where it happens does not matter.

If I were redoing my management career I would probably not have commissions. I know that is heresy but as Daniel Pink has shown that aside from rote production, incentives can be counter-productive. I have no doubt at this point that the majority of people do not do well with the stress of commissions.

Pink says, and I agree, pay everyone well - be the best wage in your area - and take money off the table as a barrier or incentive to sell. Additionally, play down the word "sell." I value sales - nothing happens until one is made. But today, replace it with "serve the customer." Do that and a sale will follow.

If you constantly view the customer as the end game where they shop, where they make returns will not matter. The company is one seamless team and everyone involves prospers - financially and I would hope, spiritually. Yes, spiritually. There is something spiritual about knowing you were just of service to someone who needed you.

Got the following email from MNB reader Glenn Cantor:

The news about Jet’s temporary store in New York is interesting because it describes a concept-based retailer called “Story.”  They compare themselves to periodical magazines in that their store presentation regularly changes and it is themed to tell a story- a living, interactive story.  This is a perfect platform for web-based retailers to introduce and create excitement for new ideas without committing to permanent real estate.

It is kind of like the seasonal displays in traditional retailers or the changing mix offered by Costco, only more dynamic.  If I worked as part of Target’s leadership team, I would explore “renting” out space for this kind of concept, in order to bring back excitement.  They have already set the example by selling their pharmacy space to CVS and they do it with endcaps.

Yesterday's FaceTime video was about StitchFix, which prompted one MNB reader to write:

I'm not a millennial and I love StitchFix. Although, I have to admit a millennial turned me on to it.

And from another reader:

I am 45 - and I love Stitch Fix!  They are smart because they have you add a link from Pinterest which gives them insight into how you would like to dress.

I work full time, and I do not want to spend my free time overwhelmed in a clothing store.  Also, most women I know do not like trying on clothes in a dressing room.  It is different at home. Plus they make the whole process EASY.

You should try it!

Thanks, but probably not. I'm pretty happy with my wardrobe of jeans, t-shirts and New Balance sneakers.

I talked yesterday about my kids loving StichFix, which prompted one reader to write:

Well, at least it hasn’t escaped you that your 20 somethings, like many others, including mine are choosing to go on-line rather than in-store. How sad that is.

Do they think they’re too busy? They’re not! Do they think they can spend their time doing something more meaningful? Facebook and Snapchat can wait. And they’ll probably spend an equal amount of time returning the percentage of “stuff” they don’t want.

How sad they don’t recognize the potential harm to working class jobs their “convenience” is causing while continuing to see socialization erode.

As a person in my upper 50’s, I realize it is my generation that has caused this and the millennials to have an over sense of importance (the participation trophy cause irreparable harm) since we made them the think they were special when in fact they are more likely “special”.

I feel sorry for you. It must be hard to live with such a low opinion of young people, and to feel that you are responsible for a decline of western civilization.

I actually think my kids are pretty special ... and not only do I recognize that they make different choices than I would, but I applaud them for it. And while they choose to do some percentage of their shopping online, they also patronize stores that are relevant to them, as well as make decisions in line with their life priorities.

I'm okay with that.
KC's View: