Blog: Buying isn't always everything, but it certainly counts for a lot
Petah Marian | 19 October 2011
While H Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridges, may have been the originator of that retail truism that "the customer is always right", he also ran his store guided by the principle of treating customers "as guests when they come and when they go, whether or not they buy".
This philosophy has continued through the years, and I happily spent over two hours visiting the retailer's store last weekend, taking time out to see an exhibition called the Museum of Everything.
I thought the exhibition was interesting, but if you want to know more about it from an expert, head here.
Wandering around the exhibition, I was reminded of was one of the ideas that seemed to gain traction at the World Retail Congress around ideas of authenticity and that buying isn't always everything.
The exhibition, and the Bonpas and Parr lake the retailer installed on its roof over the summer, hark back to Selfridges heritage, a time when it was considered a "pleasure spot", when its roof hosted gardens, cafés and golf courses. These sorts of events are a perfect example of how even though fashions change, it has been able to stay true to an idea of itself - one that is not necessarily all about buying stuff.
And, at a time when consumers are loath to shop, getting people in the door and onto the high street, means that half the battle has been won.
Another example, which contradicts Selfridge's advice, occurred in Whistles last night. I went in with the serious intention of buying a trench coat that I'd seen online.
It wasn't a good fit and looked terrible on me, but I was still toying with the idea of buying it having spent so long admiring it from afar. However, some gentle discouragement from a very nice sales assistant gave me the second opinion I needed to do the right thing-put it back on the shelf. In this environment, it takes a certain degree of faith in the customer's loyalty to be able to do this - to play the longer game with them and know that if you treat them well they will return.
Saving the best until last, I was speaking to Collective Brands' interim CEO Michael Massey a couple of weeks ago about the company's efforts in Latin America. Massey highlighted how in some Payless stores the company runs portable breast screening units as part of its Breast Cancer awareness programmes. "Retail is more than selling shoes - you can do good," he said.
Exciting the consumer, generating loyalty and treating them well often seems to be forgotten in the current climate of markdowns and an ongoing plaintive wail about continuing poor consumer confidence. It's certainly nice to see some different themes emerging.
As if retailers didn’t have enough to contend with as they try to get to grips with doing business in a digitally-connected omni-channel world, it seems the rise of the “selfie” is also beginning to i...
Britain’s Modern Slavery Act, which began coming into force at the end of July, sets new disclosure standards on an extraordinary number of garment businesses. But its legal niceties won’t really dete...
After the latest round of TPP talks failed to clinch a deal, the race is now on to secure an agreement before the US presidential elections halt progress. Trade ministers are scrambling to try and for...
More apparel retailers appear to be ramping up their sustainability efforts in a way that will get consumers involved, with initiatives such as clothing recycling becoming increasingly popular....
- Yuan devaluation impact mixed for garment firms
- Will Vietnam struggle with impending trade deals?
- Supply chain improvements to save Billabong $30m
- Nicaragua apparel and shoe firms to double in size
- The new age of disruption on apparel production
- H&M scaling up living wage effort to key suppliers
- Myanmar approves first minimum wage
- US Q2 in brief: Genesco, Oxford, Sears Canada
- EU clothing buyers should brace for higher prices
- PVH “well-positioned” in China despite headwinds
- Global Database of the Top 1000 Apparel Producers - Company Names, Financial Performance, and Contact Details
- Ethiopia – the emerging textile and clothing industry
- Myanmar's Garment Sector in 2015 - now with updated members' directory
- Global market review of lingerie - forecasts to 2020
- Global Sports Footwear Market 2015-2019