Blog logoMatthew Lang


A 4 post collection

Bye Bye Black Friday

 •  Filed under Links, Retail, North America

I'm glad to see that the much hyped part of the retail year, Black Friday, is falling out of favour with buyers.

But there’s something else happening. In this moment of profound innovation on the back of e-commerce and technology, new and old brands are working hard to gain our business. In doing so, they have created a virtual “series” of “Black Fridays” throughout the season. These are cause-driven moments or limited-edition collections that add value in a way more relevant to today’s informed consumer; it’s not about false discounts.

Black Friday isn’t dead. It’s just irrelevant. by Recode

I've always shunned purchasing anything during this time and in particular any product that is highlighted as a "bargain" during this event.

Can't wait until it's completely gone.

Dear Retailers: Customers Vote With Their Feet

 •  Filed under Posts, Retail

A couple of weeks ago me, Jen and the kids headed to our nearest big electrical store, Currys at Braehead Shopping Centre. We were going to look at televisions for the new room we have called 'the den'. It's only a small room, it was previously a garage, so we only required a small television for it. Nothing like those enormous 50" panels you see, just a 32" would cut it.

We arrived at the store and found the televisions department. Mega expensive massive televisions at the front and at the back in the dark are the small and relatively cheap televisions. As we were only looking for a 32", we made a beeline for the back of the department.

We had a price bracket and within that bracket we had narrowed it down to a handful of television sets. Having found the television that we wanted, I tried to grab the attention of one of the store staff. Short of knocking one of them over the head with a set of speakers, I couldn't get assistance from any of the staff in this department.

While doing this I did see the television we were looking for in stock. However I did want to just check a couple of things with the staff before we purchased it. Having no success at all in trying to pin down a member of staff, we decided to cut our losses and left the store, without purchasing the television we liked.

Having stood there for close to 20 minutes, it was clear where the staff's attention was. The big purchases, the big televisions. As we left we passed two groups of staff that had suddenly congregated either side of the front row of big televisions in the department. If someone stopped to inspect one, they would be in an excellent position to help the customer and in turn, attempt to get a big sale. Beyond that row, you were doomed for assistance. It was like tiered customer service. Those that spend more get more service.

Once we got home, I purchased the same television online from another retailer for the same price. I could have bought the television online from Currys, but given the lack of assistance I got from staff, why should they get a sale from me?

Most big retailers have online stores that give you online purchasing of their goods, but when you make a big purchase like this, sometimes a trip to the physical store does help you to see what it is you're actually buying. It's at this point, that the staff should be helpful no matter what price bracket you're buying in.

Even in a world where buying online is an option, some customers will still venture to the stores to check out goods in person before committing to a sale in the store or at the online store of that retailer. During this time, retailers should ensure that customers are served well if they want an in-store sale. However with service like this, it can put off customers not just for that one purchase but for many purchases after that.

There are a couple of appliances in the house that are nearing their time for replacement. Will I be venturing back to Currys to replace these appliances? Highly unlikely.

If customers don't like a store's service, they'll go elsewhere, and not just for that one purchase but many more after that. It's the oldest lesson in the book for retailers but has an added twist for the age of online retailers, customers vote with their feet, both physical and digital.

Book store vs Amazon

 •  Filed under Posts, Books, Retail

While browsing through the books at my local Waterstones store, I became aware of how easy it was to pick up books, rifle through them and decide whether to add them to my reading list or not. It's something I do every month. Flick through a few books at the bookstore, take notes of their titles and then purchase them on Amazon for my Kindle. I've never just bought a book on Amazon though.While the purchase of books on Amazon is simple enough, the actual browsing of books isn't the same as your average book store. At the book store I find that it's quicker to pick up a book, flick through it, read the synopsis and then decide whether you like it or not.

On Amazon it's fairly easy to decide on whether a book interests you or not as all the information is there on the book's product page. Finding that book on Amazon however isn't as easy as the bookstore method. You can't glance or scan the books on the Amazon website.

Finding a specific genre or category is easy enough but then you're met with a massive volume of books displayed in a white spaced grid with tiny images of the books cover.I'd much rather be able to scan the book spines in a horizontal page ordered by author. Just like the bookshelf at the bookstore. They have images of the book cover on the Amazon website, but why not the spine?

They've probably already done tonnes of research on this with teams of designers and marketing folks and disagree with my view. For me however, the browsing of books on Amazon just doesn't compare to the experience of visiting a bookstore.​