Or maybe Amazon's presence will highlight some pain points and necessary changes that which when implemented, will make said Counter partners better stores that can compete in a crowded marketplace and ultimately provide more for their customers and increase retention. (ftr: I'm not a fan of Amazon)
Counter partners are going to need to shift compelling storytelling up to the front/pick-up area if they are to convert someone who is keen on just picking up a package vs. considering other in-store needs. It won't be as easy as thinking traffic increase equates to additional revenue.
The irony here of course being that legacy/traditional retail USED to do an excellent job of providing customized/personal touch customer care and storytelling over selling of commodities. Everything old is new again. That traditional retail has had such an issue with leveraging their strengths is a shame.
Further to the point about "out of control" customer acquisition costs, I'm often more concerned about the retention metric. Garnering new customers is a vastly different exercise than retaining them and I still believe, even irrespective of data (just because you have it doesn't mean you're utilizing it correctly), traditional retailers have the edge.
People are either compassionate and kind or they are not and so I do believe that this goes beyond any "misnomer training" and all the way back to hiring (and firing). You can get employees to fall in line with certain policies, practices and customer care but if you've not hired (or fired) the right people, many others may experience what your mother did. PS: I'm pleased to read she is a survivor!
Ian, this is so beautifully written and conveyed. As I continue to see "empathy training" become more and more popular, I become ever confused about it for the very reasons you cite. I wouldn't be nearly as confused if I saw "sympathy training" because that is a different animal and something that most people (unless they are sociopaths) can do for/with others. I would never be so bold as to say I could empathize with a cancer patient (having never had cancer) but could sympathize with aspects because my father died of cancer. I feel as though utilizing the incorrect word is, like you said, diminishing what is not only a remarkable gift, but also something with specificity built into it.
Co-signed. And as someone who offers both consulting and SAM services to small and mid-tier vendors, I see this as good news. Not necessarily because I will benefit from potentially garnering more clients, rather that managing the ownership of one's brand is and always has been my imperative for the past 20 years.
This is a valid point that shouldn't be considered trouble-making. This is basically still "fast fashion" with all of its inherent problems, on top of which are added the others you mention that include the additional and repeated transit footprint.
Further, though humanity is not making the right decisions at a fast enough pace, there has been an increase in consumer awareness that directs their dollars towards sustainability. Just look at the effort which Loop (TerraCycle) is hoping to get off the ground.
Being able to purchase more high quality, long lasting, classic and interchangeable apparel is a market focus which I think will continue to grow. How viable it can become given the constraints of MSRP vs disposable income (livable wage) still needs to be decided. That said, I have never in my life spent $720 annually on clothing. Insanity. This is a problematic issue, as related to society and the desire to create an Instagram life — I'm actually not being facetious.
And let's not forget the vendors whose short-sighted need for revenue ended up losing business to Amazon's private label products. Hindsight is 20/20 I know, and I'm no genius, but I had fights with the owner of my previous company about selling on Amazon circa 2008 and worked really hard to find alternative revenue streams that were not handing over product and data to a massive third party. Did we overall make less money, probably ... undoubtedly ... but we had more ownership and dare I say our customer retention was aces because of relationship building.
As someone who grew up poor, ethics had nothing to do with my mother's purchasing decisions. As long as this country struggles with paying people livable wages, Amazon (and Walmart/Jet) will benefit. What I actually hope happens is that these two behemoths will battle it out in the ethics arena -- lesser of two evils and all that.
Sadly, that still leaves us primarily with legacy/big box retailers like Walmart, Jet.com and Target. The race to the bottom has been going on for a long time and though there have been some bright spots with consumers opting to support local and small businesses, it's still about price and convenience. This is primarily tied to non-livable wages and lack of healthcare. For example, it is egregiously unacceptable that people are buying their medical supplies on Amazon because that is all they can afford. But I digress.
My first thought was that pet owners were going to figure this out on their own, if they haven't already. I mean, the interwebz removes the educational barrier and allows for DIY. It's tricky if Petco offers classes (potentially cannibalizes dog food sales) though, as almost everyone is pointing out, cooking meals for your pet, if other than a tiny dog or cat, is time and cost prohibitive. Until they can offer pet meals at "fast food" pricing and convenience, I think this is strictly experiential (which is a good thing).