August 25, 2014

Is My Store Losing New Customers?

This is one of the biggest challenges retailers face in 2014 - few people want to talk about it.

When retailer e-commerce websites became competent enough to deliver the goods, and when Amazon became large enough to have a minor impact on retail sales, new customer counts changed.

Here's what I frequently observe:

You can see the big bump in retail in 2008, it happened to most folks. But then business kind of returned to a "new normal", if you will.

But look at what happened in 2012. New retail customers stumbled.

And in 2013, new retail customers fell.

And in 2014, new retail customers collapsed.

When you see this trend, and the trend is independent of the online trend, then you know you have an in-store problem.

This is where things get interesting, folks. The experts are demanding that the in-store experience be digitized ... that's their solution.

What if the solution is the opposite? What if digitization causes potential new customers to instead stay home and conduct research online? If that is the case, then you have a whole different set of challenges, don't you? You have to create a reason for the customer to visit the store, don't you? That reason won't be inventory alignment, supply chain investments, or equal discounts across channels, will it?

Please be honest. What would cause you to shop in a J. Crew store in 2014 instead of shopping online? What would cause you to get in a car, drive to a store, and buy something in a store?

Leave a comment ... under what circumstances would you visit a store? Most people still visit stores ... but any small drop causes a drop in comps and that's what we're talking about here. Why visit a store in 2014? Leave a comment.