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Monday, February 3, 2014

STUFF

So this blog was never intended to be all about sales and selling from an armchair.The world as we know it (well at least the developed world as we call it), is primarily based on a consumer society.

WHAT WOULD BUSINESSES DO WITHOUT CONSUMERS? 
Think about it, people just stopped buying stuff. One of my favorite comedians (I felt he was more of a social commentator) was George Carlin. George talked about STUFF. For those who haven’t seen the performance go look it up on YouTube it’s very funny. But one of the things it says to me is that we all have too much stuff. 
DO YOU THINK WE HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF?
Our society is certainly based on this simple concept, and think of all of the conflict it creates. 
Wars, Anger, Crime, Selfishness, Divorce to name but a few, but it all boils down to STUFF. A Buddhist’s would say: this constant need for more makes us unhappy because once you have what you wanted you want more. Some of the world’s most successful business men are in fact Buddhists, indeed some of the world’s most successful and richest businessmen are college dropouts. So you have to ask some questions. 
IS EDUCATION IN ITS PRESENT FORM NECESSARY?
Having worked in the US education system for 8 years now I can say with confidence that the quality and breadth of the system has gone sadly downhill and its going down faster every day. Too many tests not enough diversity in my day(in the UK) we were given a good all round education, geography, history, all the sciences and of course the 3 Rs


I guess these are far reaching questions but they are question that we should all consider and please comment on.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Armchair Shopping Update

IS IT COMING FASTER THAN EXPECTED?

My very first trial blog “Armchair Shopping” focused on what is happening today and how consumers shop. Just yesterday I went shopping, mainly to take back some of the things that I’d bought online from Belk, JC Penny and Nordstrom. When I came home exhausted I started looking at other options for shopping online (from the comfort of my armchair). What I found struck a chord, the retailers themselves were being taken out of the mix.
More and more manufacturers are opening their own retail stores and offering their products online, quality brands such as Fossil www.fossil.com, Michael Kors www.michaelkors.com & Tumi www.tumi.com to name just a few.
Like “Green Shield stamps” back in the 70s as I explained in my first blog, they’re transforming into direct competition to the retailers they supply.
Sure right now they need their own retail stores, but as consumers experience the benefits of shopping online (no pressure to buy from salespeople, time to consider what to buy) added to the fact that online shopping allows an even greater opportunity to examine the merchandise with zoom in and even videos of products, online shopping really is far more beneficial, easier and effective than the old way of walking around the “Mall” dealing with the crowds, the time and the expense of getting there.
This is really good news for the consumer, just think of the cost savings of not having these large stores to keep up with. Eventually the cost reductions will filter down to us the consumer.
This Christmas I would expect online shopping to continue growing exponentially and eventually everyone will come to realize this (not so new) way of shopping is their favored option.
Things are moving at a faster pace out there, what will happen next?
And who will be the winners and the losers?
Here's to a fast moving 2014

So today is the 26th December 2013, TV News this morning reported massive problems with UPS and FedEx in getting parcels to customers mainly due to the unexpected rise in online shopping. whereas retailers are having huge sales to clear excess merchandise!


Monday, November 25, 2013

THE FUTURE OF RETAIL


FROM THE MALL TO THE ARMCHAIR
                                  “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.”

Armchair Shopping  By John Chalkley

No this is not about shopping for armchairs although that’s what many consumers are doing online. This is really about the way we’re choosing to spend our money in this convenience age. Many advocates are out there right now expounding “that retail stores are still king”. Most of us know better, and our largest retailers today have recognized the huge importance of online shopping.

Online or catalogue shopping, has been around a long time. It’s not a new phenomenon in fact it started way back and has grown exponentially into what it is today and will continue that way until there’s no longer a need for these large and costly retail stores. Not so long ago in the days of the Wild West, they had no retail stores available on their backdoors, instead they had catalogue shopping (which is still going strong).Take for instance one of the UKs largest examples of catalogue and online shopping, Argos. Argos started years ago, in those days they were “Green Shield Stamps”, a retail reward program offered by some of the UKs largest retailers. The retailers were all independent of each other, the only common factor was they all gave away “green shield stamps” as a reward to their customers and to create customer loyalty. Green shield stamps transformed itself to become one of the UKs largest catalogue and online retailers, growing larger than the retailers they used to serve. Today Argos is the preferred way for consumers to buy what are top-line products at bargain prices, and if we know anything about the savvy consumer we’re all looking for a bargain.

Now everyone has got into the action with all of our major high street retailers offering an online alternative to buying in their own stores. Why? Because they recognize if they don’t develop this growing stream of business they will die. I have often used the phrase “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” And the same goes for any organization that wants to stay alive. Our largest retailers continue to change and that process will only serve the demise of their own retail stores, which truly are fast becoming a thing of the past. More and more we are seeing a revolution in the way customers shop. So what is the future for these major retailers and what are they to do with the white elephants they call flagship stores and the like?

Probably there will be a reluctance to scale down their operations after all many of their executives rely on this system to keep themselves in a job. Consider the social effect of millions of people being cast on the scrapheap in an industry that doesn’t want them anymore. Ironically it would mean less consumers for the retailers themselves. But as we have witnessed before, profit is king, and someone will break rank, some already have even the ones who still hold onto their high profile locations recognize that the future is indeed eCommerce.

What are they doing today? Take one of the US largest and most prestigious luxury retailers Nordstrom’s. More and more of their customers are shopping online, so why keep the stores open? Simple, I predict that one day they will transform into the way that Argos find themselves today. They will use the slimmed down store as picking up and dropping off points to make it easier for their shoppers. People still have the need for “feely feely”. There is still a strong urge out there with customers to sample what they are going to buy. But in a growing number of cases they still go away and buy the product online. I can think of many reasons why we do that, but never the less it’s happening today and it’s happening at a faster pace.

So yes there will still be employees, but fewer, maybe instead of waiting in the store for the customers to come to them perhaps by implementing change, eCommerce will be used to get into their customer’s homes. There will always be a need of course for those retailers that stick to their guns and want to offer that in store shopping opportunity.

So why did I use the title Armchair Shopping?  Years ago when I started a group to look at ways to develop what was then the new shopping revolution. Our group sat around thinking of a name for the company. After hours of debating what we should call ourselves, even with the help of some very experienced techies (don’t ever get techies involved in marketing) frustrated I said well what we are trying to do is allow customers to shop from their armchairs, so how about armchair shopping? All agreed the name was great in fact we even got the domain name. The techies of course couldn’t figure out a way to make it happen. The company never got off the ground, we had limited resources and we all went our separate ways.

Armchair shopping is however still alive today, as I own the domain name www.armchairshopping.co. Not what it started out to be, nevertheless it’s here and the parent company www.anglo-america.com will continue to thrive in the future.
Well, do we need to keep store fronts open?
What do you predict the future holds for retail shopping?

John Chalkley - Anglo-america