January 07, 2009

Credit Devils at the Bellis Fair Mall

The sign inside the Macy's at the Bellis Fair Mall says "Customer Service". Below the sign are three messages.
  • Open a Macy's Account.
  • Make a Payment.
  • Buy a Gift Card.
Surprisingly, none of the messages communicate the reason you go to a store ... to buy merchandise.

We didn't do any of the three options. Instead, we paid for the merchandise with a co-branded Nordstrom Visa, entitling us to future $20 merchandise certificates from Nordstrom, all because we purchased merchandise at Macy's.

At Kohls, we were asked if we wanted to open a Kohls credit account --- they would take 15% off of our order (which was, for the most part, discounted 60% from full price) if we opened up an account. We declined.

Both Macy's and Kohls had numerous images of pop-culture superstars with quotes like "I love this merchandise". There were numerous signs promoting credit. There were few employees.

Credit is seductive. The credit devils can move you away from a focus on merchandise. I mean seriously, how does Nordstrom benefit by giving me a $20 merchandise certificate for spending $2,000 at Macy's?

2009 is a good year to focus on merchandise innovation, to focus less on credit innovation. The credit devils won't be happy. Maybe customers will be happy.