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.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:23 AM

    Kevin,
    Sorry, reading posts in backward order. This ties in to comment on your post about Ms. Myers and passion for merchandise.
    If you are looking for proof to show your clients about negative impact of credit-devils(need a new term), google the retail worker forums--there are various ones out there(tho number shrinking of course), and one of the most common complaints you see from associates is the constant push to meet credit card quotas.
    This is downright annoying to customer.
    As I was at register with my kids to buy several gifts at Christmas time, the cashier ringing us up asked me 4 different times if I wanted the retailer's credit card to save an extra 15%.
    He only stopped because I told him if he said it again I would walk out with out purchasing(substantial number of items). At that point he apologized and admitted he was trying to meet an incentive and that evidently my sales total would be significant boost to that.
    So instead of engaging a customer in friendly conversation he was taught to harass.
    I realize story is very anecdotal, but every time I am at a register I am asked if I want a card. Even at the Best Buy where I do have a card, they want me to "upgrade" to their master card.
    Note this is very different from loyalty cards which don't have an impact on personal finances. Too many credit cards impair your credit rating, and are a financial burden that shouldn't be made at a register on impluse. (another story is this credit mess is partially to blame for current economy).
    Kevin, as usual you are on to something and hopefully your clients include certain retailers and they actually listen to you on this.

    K

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