STORES Magazine - April 2011 - (Page 6)

CONSIDER THIS / EDITOR’S PAGE Who’s In Control? BY SUSAN REDA here was a story in The New York Times last month about a number of restaurants and cafes in Manhattan that are “saying no.” A bistro on the Lower East Side, known for its fries, says “no” to patrons requesting ketchup. At the Spotted Pig in the West Village customers can have their burger with or without Roquefort — but the wait service refuses to substitute a different cheese. And at Murray’s Bagels, folks have endless choices for bagel toppings — but there’s an ironclad no-toasting policy. The Times describes them as “hard-line restaurants and cafes” operated by “a coterie of food purists.” At a time when personalization is the flavor of the moment and the desire to please customers trumps all, this uncompromising attitude is conspicuous to say the least. But is it wrong? We say the customer is always right, but in these restaurants it’s as if the chef is saying, “This is my creation — it’s how it tastes best. If you want ketchup, you need to go somewhere else.” I couldn’t help but think about this in the context of retail. I don’t think there are many sales associates who would refuse to sell an outfit — even if they thought it was grossly mismatched. And could you imagine the row that would ensue if someone at Wet Seal told a forty-something woman that the tight-fitting dress she was trying on might not be “age appropriate?” Retailers will quietly acknowledge that the customer is not always right, but that doesn’t preclude them from doing what they can to keep shoppers happy. Still, there is something to be said for maintaining a certain amount of control over your business, particularly when it comes to price. I think retailers are giving shoppers way more control over price than may be wise. One example is an iPhone app call MAKEaDeal. It lets users set a radius, a product category and a preferred discount, then returns coupons from 85 retailers, mostly national brands. I get it: The Priceline “name your price” model is a winner for airline travelers, but this isn’t quite the same. Then I learned of Gap Inc.’s new “gapmyprice” website where shoppers suggest what they are willing to pay for khakis, then click on the “let’s make a deal” button. In some instances the offer is accepted; in others Gap makes its final discount offer. The company says the site is an attempt to create “more surgical” promotions; frankly, I see it as another case of the retailer handing control to the consumer. My husband works in a high-touch, high-service field where customers are constantly pushing for more — but are less and less willing to pay for it. He has an expression he uses over and over: “If you let your customers run your business – eventually you won’t have a business to run.” I think he’s on to something. T 325 7th St. NW, Suite 1100 Washington, D.C. 20004 202/626-8101 STORES Magazine STORES Digital Edition STORES Mobile Edition STORES Knowledge Series® STORES Weekly HARRY LISTER Vice President, STORES Media 202/626-8199 FAX: 866/640-8137 E-mail: SUSAN REDA Editor, STORES Media 516/437-1245 FAX: 866/640-8138 E-mail: ELENA CAIOLA Senior Director, Audience Development 202/626-8146 FAX: 866/640-8139 E-mail: SUSAN PATTERSON Senior Director, Business Operations and Development 202/626-8102 FAX: 202/661-3042 E-mail: KRISTINA STEWART Copy Editor/Production Manager 202/661-3047 E-mail: DORIS MASON Circulation Manager 202/626-8172 FAX: 866/640-8140 E-mail: LUCY D. REDDAWAY Creative Director ADVERTISING & MARKETING MIKE GRIBBIN Advertising Director 410/893-8003 Kim Daniele Molly Deise Chris Hodges Dan McClure Tim O’Connell Executive Publishing Inc. 900A Main St., Suite 103 Bel Air, MD 21014 410/893-8003 FAX: 410/893-8004 E-mail: Follow STORES Media on twitter at 6 STORES / APRIL 2011 For article reprints, including e-prints, please contact our Reprint Coordinator at Wright's Reprints 877-652-5295 or WWW.STORES.ORG http://WWW.STORES.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES Magazine - April 2011

Stores Magazine - April 2011
Editor’s Page
President’s Page
Retail People
Chain of Uncertainty
Digital Couponing
Energy Management
Social Media
Cross-Channel Metrics
Broadband Bonding
Workforce Management
Alternative Payments
Divisional Update
NRF News
Point of View
Retail Industry Calendar
End Cap

STORES Magazine - April 2011