Retail is broken. You may not think it is, but it really is. I’ve been doing some thinking regarding my shopping habits and find that there are many different stores, be they physical or online, where things that I need are available. If I were to create a graphic of where I need to shop in any given week you’d see logos of Target, Amazon, Dominick’s, Sears, Lowe’s and Netflix. And then you have the less regular needs. Best Buy, Eddie Bauer and others would all be represented.
It’s tremendously inconvenient for me to have to go to all these stores to find what I need. I should be able to define my retail experience in a way that works with my schedule, is close to home and which doesn’t take me too far out of my comfort zone. If that were to happen I might be exposed to new products and it’s just too difficult to decide if those new things I’m presented with are worth buying in favor of what I’m comfortable with.
So what if Sears – and I’m just using them because they have a long history as a general purpose department store with a little bit of everything – created a form for me to fill out where I could have them ship in products from other stores that I define and designate. That way I could make up my shopping list and then have it imported into Sears, where I could conveniently pick all of the stuff I need up on my way home from work. With a little bit of cooperation among retailers this could happen.
The first company to open up its walls to other retailers – be it Sears or Amazon or anyone else – and drops the notion of exclusivity, where we are limited to what they as a company has chosen to stock will win. It’s bad for consumers that they can’t have a retail experience that caters to them, that treats them like they’re the only person on the planet that matter.
So retail is broken. But Sears could fix it. But then what about J.C. Penney? Could this have saved Montgomery Ward? It would be great to see one of the big names fix retail in a way that benefits the consumer as much as the company itself.