Major Retail Closures (an opportunity for small business)
Major retail chains are closing their doors at record pace. According to a recent report at ZeroHedge, nearly 9,000 retail stores will be closing their doors this year. There are many reasons and you should click the link to read them.
The nutshell version from the article is that there is too much expense caused by too much unused retail space. The major chains have spent decades buying property and now many of those properties are sitting empty. Because of the debt and inability to pay, many are closing their doors and/or filing for bankruptcy protection.
From my perspective, a major but too little discussed factor is poor customer experience. For far too long the major chains have operated as if their customers will always be there. We call that being taken for granted.
There seems to have been so much investment in remodels and expansions, sales gimmicks and technology but very little investment improving the actual employee to customer relationship.
Two weeks ago my wife and I were shopping at an outlet mall about 40 minutes from our home. I asked the gaggle of sales people if they had a particular type of sweater in their store and I was met with an extended arm and an index finger pointing in the general direction of where I could go look.
There was no offer to assist, no words from a single person in the gaggle, and not a single smile. Not only was there no appreciation for our time and effort to get to this remotely located mall, but we were obviously an interruption to their day. Here is a thought- customers are never an interruption.
By most anecdotal evidence I've acquired over the past couple of decades, this is a major reason why retail chains and corporations are having such a hard time paying their bills. We customers have a choice where to spend our money. If the front-line staff at these mega corporations don't know how to pay proper attention to us we will leave, in droves. When we leave, our money goes with us.
I am certain those employees didn't go to work that day with the intention of performing poorly. The issue is that there are so many people who have never been taught proper skills when it comes to customer relations. There must be an investment made in educating employees in the art of customer engagement.
While the outlook is bad for these former giants of retail, the potential for small business in America is great. Owners who come to understand the importance of a relationally driven customer experience will invest in their employees and will in turn gain and retain the customers who have lost their old traditional shopping hangouts.
There will always be people who prefer to shop at a physical location. With so many retail closures there are many customers looking for a new shopping home. The small business that learns to not take their customers for granted, but to engage them as people and provide them with an amazing experience stand to gain the most.
I specialize in training in the area customer engagement. If you are responsible for the success of a small business and would like to know more about my affordable and effective training program, please click the link to my services page and complete the form.
Have your typical shopping experiences been like the one I described at the outlet mall, or do you have a different take? I would love to read your thoughts. Thank you for taking the time to stop by, and if it isn't too much trouble, would you consider sharing this post with your favorite small businesses?