When we all come out of this holiday shopping season, chances are we will have learned an awful lot about the business of retailing and what are the new ground rules of being successful.
Things like curbside pick-up, BOPIS (the horribly named buy-online-pickup-in-store practice), same-day deliveries and of course e-commerce are going to change the way consumers shop, certainly for the short-term and most probably for much, much longer.
But as important as these game-changers are, there are a few retailers — a few really good retailers — who continue to break many of these rules and still put up strong performances that satisfy both their investors and their customers.
I point to two specifically:
- Trader Joe’s, the slightly off-kilter supermarket chain, does not sell online, does not offer curbside pick-up and as far as I know does not offer home delivery. Yet it is doing quite well during the pandemic and its customer base is as loyal as perhaps any is in the country. The store does what it does really well and its shoppers love it that way.
- Costco does have a good e-commerce business though it is probably smaller than the retail average these days. But it too offers no curbside pick-up, home delivery or some of the other Covid bells and whistles other retailers have put in place. Yet once again it is doing really well and its customers too are incredibly loyal.
What’s the commonality here? I think it’s that good, well-run stores that have a compelling merchandising story to tell can prosper even if they aren’t riding every retail trend out there. You can say the same for the off-price sector of HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross and all the rest. Their customers love shopping at their stores and are willing to look the other way on online ordering and some of the omnichannel tools other retailers have.
Don’t get this wrong: eventually, all of these retailers are going to need to get up to speed with the new realities of the shopping process. Not to do so is foolish…and ultimately self-destructive.
But it proves good stores outweigh bad stores, even if the latter are doing some things right. The rules are the rules but they don’t always apply.
Award-winning Journalist & Consultant for the retailing and home furnishings industries with extensive business media experience in both fields.