Dear Mr Retailer.

Dear Mr Retailer,

We need to talk about our relationship. I think it’s only fair to say we’ve grown apart. We don’t seem to be on the same page anymore.  I’m not sure when it happened, how it happened, but we grew in different directions and I don’t know how to get us back on track unless we look at what’s gone wrong and be honest about what we really want from each other going forward.

Mr Retailer, I’m sorry, it’s not you it’s me. I’m just not that into you anymore. I don’t mean to be harsh, but this relationship just feels so one-sided.  It feels like you expect a lot and often give very little in return. The deception, the vagueness, the lack of genuine care and consideration for how I feel, just isn’t a relationship I want to be part of any more. I have been spending time online with someone else, not because I wanted to, but simply because more of my needs were being serviced online. But I miss you, and long for the days I would run to be with you, to get all dressed up and arrange to be in town to experience all that you had to entice me with. To see, to touch to taste to feel. TO EXPERIENCE.

 

That’s a really big part of it, to feel. I don’t feel anything when we’re together anymore, I’ve become numb, to the markdowns that aren’t really markdowns, or worthy of the ink, paper and staff labour to put these bluff cards up in the shop windows.  The special occasions we once shared, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing day sales even when I knew you would give me your all, your very best, as opposed to the past couple of years of faking it, deception, swindles and low practices. Adjusting prices months ahead to imply you’re giving me the best deal when really your sale is just the price you actually wanted to sell at.   I don’t feel excited by you anymore, I feel angry, hurt, insulted and just the desire to spend as little time with you as possible anymore, in and out quick as I can. There’s no passion on my part, there’s no loyalty on yours, it’s just not working between us.

 

I miss being able to spend a whole day with you, just soaking it all in, in your presence. The experience was one I wanted to repeat over and over again. To sit and bask in your glory, to pace myself to ensure I did’t miss anything. To make sure I had the best of you, which would bring out the best in me. I would walk through your stores, touch the merchandise, feel it between my fingers, absorb the stunning visuals, absorb the scents, the buzz, the excitement and trying things on was a pleasure and very much a necessity for a good day out. You grabbed my attention in every way, not with mountains high of stock and slycology in terms of trying to induce me to turn left or right, but simply by supplying me with endless wonderful choices in a comfortable warm, welcoming environment, friendly, happy and inviting. Why wouldn’t I keep coming back.

 

Now, your units lay empty, boarded up, overpriced rents, over priced stock apparently on sale which must end soon…untill next weeks sale. You’ve removed all of the seating, the comfort, the rest stops, hell you’ve even removed the staff to serve me, to talk and laugh with me having seen me in your stores time and time again.

The self serving till may seem amazing to your board, but not to me. As a professional I understand, the self serve till doesn’t want minimum wage or living wage, or sick pay, no holiday pay, no training, and no soul.  I liked Jane or John serving me, talking about the weather or my purchase or some other small talk, I liked being able to query something as I’m purchasing it and be advised there and then. AI is what I crave to make life more efficient, not empty. We want technology as well as not instead of people.   Had the tills freed staff up to engage more, fine, instead you remove staff, put up prices, reduce overheads and it’s just you, you, and  you in this, there’s no room for any consideration about what I want or what I feel.

 

This is why the luxury sector s thriving, not surviving, not limping over the finish line each quarter but thriving with regular loyal customers, who welcome staff who know our names, know our styles as soon as we enter a store. Smile, treat us well, fetch more products for us to try, suggest alternatives, we hadn’t considered. Things ands interchanges that make us feel warm inside, not cold and empty like your many boarded up shops. Or the pile it high get it now stores that are an assault on our senses that actually make us shrink away from stores not enjoy the search for treasures.

Online I have a profile, the stores know me, what I like. In luxury stores they remember what I like, or they by engagement find out.  The fun we used to have on the high street the buzz, the variation of any independent stores amongst a few key large chains, where did that go? The high street stores used to be about variation, not going into every town and city and seeing row upon row of the exact same stores, with the fact same layout, it’s just not that interesting.

Mr Retailer, and I call you Mr, because generally you always are, Mr Sainsbury, Mr Tesco, Mr Woolworths, …in our minds, this is how it has always been.  But it’s a new dawn, and we want more. We want real customer experiences, relationships, engagement, to live, to experience, to FEEL.

It didn’t have to come to this, a little respect, a little consideration, and genuine engagement for the mutual benefit of transactional exchange.

I’m not asking for much, but I am asking for far more than you’re currently giving.

One day I hope you find your way back, when you realise all the slycology, the studies, the meetings, the strategic plans developed to give you increasingly more and me significantly less…aren’t really working out so well for you after all. When you look at all of your stores as empty and vacuous as our relationship has become.  Then, my fun, giving, warm, welcoming, buzzy, exciting retailer might perhaps return. I hope so, because I really miss you.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll be hanging with the surviving independents, the few you haven’t managed to drag down by reducing the footfall on the hughstreet with the rows of empty stores. I’ll be hanging with the few department stores remaining who can deliver that warm butterfly feeling in your stomach when you enter somewhere truly heavenly, I’ll be hanging with the high-end stores (to the dismay of my bank manager) forging relationships, and I’ll be hanging online sourcing things from across the globe with ease and convenience. Engaging in Social Media exchanges with retailers who use social media to be “Sociable” not just a serious of  broadcasts. Who can at at least appear to be as interested in me as I am in them.  One day, somewhere  I hope you find me, when you’re ready, because right now Mr Retailer, you’ve got a long way to go.

 

 

 

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