April 14, 2014

Hillstrom's Retail Nightmares: Storm Clouds Are Brewing

I know, I know, the experts want you to digitize your retail store. By making the store more like a website, customers will happily visit your store instead of using your website?


Ok, so digitizing the store will cause the store to be integrated with the website, causing customers to use your website more often. The customer will stay at home, enjoying a fully integrated experience on a tablet, leaving the parking lot looking pretty darn empty. Who wants to visit a store when there are no cars in the parking lot?

Let's take a look inside the Office Depot store pictured above:

Yup - nobody in there. And we already knew that from looking at the parking lot.

Where is the pleasure in this shopping experience? Be honest! Where is the thrill? The excitement? The discovery?

I know, what the heck are Office Depot / Office Max & their competitor, Staples, supposed to do? I get it. Not fun.

But the pundits cannot save Office Depot / Office Max or whatever the two-headed monster will be known by in the future by recommending they create an integrated experience where 20,000 square feet are used as a digital distribution center for customers who mysteriously choose to not order via Amazon and instead order online and then drive to a store to buy a pre-ordered item coupled with an add-on calculator that could be cheaply simulated via a free app on a mobile device.

Retail seems to be moving in opposite directions ... a gigantic Cabelas store chocked full of entertainment ... or very small stores that serve a unique and entertaining purpose. Turning a retail store into a digital distribution center only pleases those who sell solutions designed to turn retail stores into digital distribution centers. I imagine it is horrible to be Office Depot / Office Max, to be caught in the middle.