iDEA'S FROM THE EDGE
±1 Chain Stores
Yeah, we totally see what you mean, towns and cities are looking strangely clone-like these days!
This became evident while travelling through UK, France and Spain recently, while each certainly has its own beautiful architecture, the main streets of almost every main town and city have almost identical shops, with all those familiar logos fighting to catch the eye. Not only was this confusing geographically, it really subdues the sense of adventure you feel when travelling
Those naughty corporate chains have managed to take over our main streets, not only sucking the life out of local businesses but blunting our ascetic vision in the process. Another bizarre thing which is noticeable, the staff employed by these chains were oddly similar in personality and attitude!
Sales in traditional retail shops around the world are falling faster then a professional footballer, the growing strength of online shopping is looming large and big 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, this will worsen as the technological revolution takes over.
It's scary 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, a chain brand may view this as a step down, or think it difficult to instigate, due to long-term property agreements. However, we are arriving at a crossroads and there's a window of opportunity which could benefit everyone concerned...
The internet is, without doubt, the most powerful marketing channel any of us has ever seen, whereas shops are trapped within the traditional system of having overheads, rent, rates, staff costs etc - online companies are free from these costs, add the fact, buying online is a far more convenient and comfortable experience. In our fast-paced lives, the thought of trudging around is becoming less attractive, when you can view and choose in comfort, click a few buttons and voilà it arrives at your door a few days later!
It is certainly not a new phenomenon, in the 60's and 70's catalogue shopping by post was massive in Europe and the US,
the concept has 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 them -
it's no surprise Apple stores are full, because there's usually only one or two in large cities, this has many advantages as they confine and squeeze overheads, staffing, stock and customers into one location, not to mention it gives the whole place a funky busy vibe, making buyers feel excited to be there
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 acting to make those positive
One negative issue with making buying online is getting your item delivered, as people are at work. Stores could use this point to their benefit - you could order from the stores online site, print your confirmation, then simply collect at the store.
A bit like an airline ticket - you 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 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 extra on food, drinks plus of course people will always pick up extra items when in the store. It could also be a great way to communicate the brands' ethos via design, service, and atmosphere
A lovely benefit of having fewer global brands in our towns is it would give local and small businesses a real chance thrice within the community. Most people prefer the experience of buying at a local shop rather then a chain store -
it just has a nicer feeling, because we're actually connecting to a real person
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. There's no doubt we need to get away from cheap overseas goods, these often involve terrible working conditions with low-quality materials used, so we end up getting poorer products with shorter lifespans, causing an enormous amount of refuse, which is currently being sent to landfill sites in third world countries - we're simply dumping our garbage onto the poorest people on earth
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, in better quality materials in our towns.
Most of all we'd be doing the right thing globally and locally
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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