iDEA'S FROM THE EDGE
±1 Chain Stores
Yeah, we totally see what you mean, our towns and cities are looking strangely clone-like these days!
This became abundantly clear when travelling through the UK, France, and Spain recently, while each has its own beautiful architecture, the main streets had almost identical shops! Yes those familiar logo's with their well researched fonts and highly agreeable colours, are fighting to catch the eye. This was not only geographically quite confusing, but it totally subdues the sense of adventure you feel when travelling
Those naughty corporate chains have managed to seize our main streets, not only sucking the life out of local businesses but blunting our ascetic vision in the process. Another bizarre aspect of this corporate occupation which is scarily noticeable, is the interior layouts now seem to lack charm or emotion, this is also evident in the staff employed, who are oddly similar in attitude. As if a single training model has been embedded in place of personality!
Maybe the retail industry's karma is here, their involvement in making goods in third world countries, where conditions, long hours, dishonest pay and abuse of labour seems to have somehow be within the sprite of the goods they sell and the staff they hire
Sales in traditional retail shops around the world are falling faster than a professional footballer, the growing strength of online shopping is looming large and chains are suffering. There's an over-abundance of shops, and they are failing at an alarming rate. It's leading to a rapid shrinking of jobs in this industry, which can only get worse as the technological revolution takes over society
These are hairy times for global brands, they must adapt or find themselves becoming a retail dinosaur
So here's an idea…Let's restrict corporate chain stores!
Okay, if you are global brand, your clever marketing folk may view this as a step down, your finance director may tell you its impossible to instigate, due to long-term property agreements, and various agencies may claim its about social engagement, being competitive, advertising, price points or some other tried and tested strategy.
However, it's blatantly obvious chain stores are approaching a cliff-end, there's already a new type of consumer who are fed up and need a fresh experience. The bright news is there is an opportunity, which could benefit everyone concerned...
The internet is, without a doubt, the most powerful marketing channel any of us has ever known, Whereas shops are trapped within the traditional system of having overheads, rent, rates, staff costs etc. Online companies are free from these costs. Its compounded by the fact, buying online is simply a far more convenient and comfortable experience!
In our fast-paced lives, the thought of trudging around is becoming less attractive. Why uncounted a human robot or suffer a dull interior when we can choose in comfort, click a few buttons and voilà it arrives at the door a few days later!
This is not a new phenomenon, in the 60's and 70's catalogue shopping by post was massive in Europe and the USA, and like all good concepts, its simply been remixed using the internet
Restricting large corporations to only one store in a big town and say two stores in a city, may actually help - it's no surprise Apple stores are full, because there's usually only one or two in large cities, this has many advantages -
they confine and squeeze their overheads, staffing, stock and customers are all in one location, not to mention it gives the whole place a funky busy vibe, making buyers feel excited by the experience
Okay, let's accept Apple have cool products in a different sector and yes they are most successful company on earth right now, but they should inspire and be the model, not the exception. Perhaps its time to rethink what our centres actually provide and try to re-imagine the uses for those beautiful buildings.
Brands are already looking at closing unprofitable stores, maybe they should be looking at the negatives of online shopping and begin acting to turn those into positives
One big negative with online purchases is actually getting your item delivered, many people are at work or don't want to get stuck at home waiting for their parcel. Stores could use this point to their advantage - you order from the stores online site, receive a pick-up date, print your confirmation, then simply collect at the store
A bit like an airline ticket - arrive with your confirmation, scan it into a machine, go to a seated cafe type area, have a drink/snack and boom your item is called, collect and off you go. For clothing you are called to a dressing area, try on your item and decide if you want to buy. Imagine going from store to store knowing your items are waiting for you. Sounds a far more attractive trip doesn't it?
Stores could become more sociable places. They would be selling to the online generation while earning on food, drinks plus people will always pick up extra items when in-store. It would also be a great way to communicate the brands' ethos via design, service, and atmosphere - this is Apple's brilliantly simple secret
A lovely benefit of having fewer global brands in our towns is it would give local businesses a real chance to thrive within communities. Most people prefer the experience of buying at a local shop rather than a chain store - it has a far nicer feeling because we're actually connecting to a real person who truly cares about their product and community
A solution to long-term property agreements could be resolved by converting buildings into smaller individual shops for local businesses. No doubt local retailers would be happy to be in those prominent locations at reasonable rents in their own area, while the big brand earn rental income without those old retail overheads This could really support and invigorate the community.
Without doubt, we have to get away from cheap overseas goods, its not only the terrible working conditions but also because they are using low-quality materials, so we end up getting poorer products with shorter lifespans, this is causing an enormous amount of refuse, which is currently being sent to landfill sites in third world countries. Its a crazy situation whereby we're dumping our garbage onto some of the poorest nations on earth, who happen to be the same people who are making that garbage!
The biggest advantage would be for us, the customers. We could have the convenience of big brand online shopping, with a real diversity of local crafted and sourced goods, with better quality materials.
Most of all we'd be doing the right thing locally and globally
There are just a few meditative thoughts on this vast topic from 3000monks
So what do you say...For or Against?
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