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.

The Math Behind Bifurcated Customers Who Have "Moved On" From Catalogs

Yesterday we talked about a classic, outstanding catalog customer ... and how that customer needed MORE mailings on an annual basis. ...