Friday, June 18, 2021

Dear Retailers,


Dear Retailers,

So having spent the past 31 years working retail, for a major national (Canadian) grocery/supermarket chain, I think I know a thing or two about retail.

Regardless, of my retail background, I believe that I'm a fairly prudent shopper.

Ok, with that out of the way, I want to discuss this trend by all retailer to do away with staff. Hey big corporations, I get it, you want to save money, and lets face it labour is your biggest cost. This is nothing new, it's been going on since the inception of capitalism, and all industries seem to go through this. Heck, I get it, however...

This is what I don't understand, and I'm trying my best to understand. Marketing!!!

Companies spend all this money on TV ads, Flyers (print and online), endorsements and promotional signs. Just to get the consumer to choose them over the competition. Each and every one of these strategies has it's own team and staff, dedicated to getting people to spend money with them. This I can understand, I mean you want people to remember you when they shop... 

I just don't get it, and it makes no sense to me. How much does it cost to make a TV commercial, or create a flyer, make posters, endorse a sports team? All this is done, in the name of Marketing, to stir an emotional bond with you and the retailer. 

Psst... You want in on a secret, I'm actually motivated to shop by my last shopping experience. Yup it's true. 

Case in point. The other day, I got an email from Canadian Tire, about some clearance items. Now I don't really want to pick on Canadian Tire, because I actually like them, but a point has to be made. So I saw they were clearing out portable power banks ( used to charge your phone on the go), I like having these when I'm travelling as you never know when you'll run out of power. Anyways, this power bank was on sale for $15.99 down from $59.99, something I just couldn't pass up on (I thought). I looked online, and my local Canadian Tire has 60 units available, sweet. 

I'm gonna buy two, I really don't need them but, it's always better to have something you don't need, then need something you don't have. Am I right?

So I go to Canadian Tire, I just love this place. It has everything you could want, except food, but you know what I mean. So I cruise the whole store, make it an adventure, look for other cool stuff to buy, and that's the trick right? That's what the marketing is about, get you in the store, make you feel good, so you spend your money. Sign me up, I'm all in the marketing is working.

Then I find the power banks, and sadly they are locked up behind glass. Like Orcas at the Aquarium, I can sense the sadness in these power banks, all they want is to be free and in the wild. Don't worry power banks, I'm here to save some of you. 

Canadian Tire conveniently places a buzzer, which when pressed magically summons staff who will release captive items into your care. So I press the button and anxiously wait, but no magic, WhatTheHeck. Press the button again after a few moments, that seem like an eternity. No magic. Am I being punked? Um, hey, when I press the button, magic is supposed to happen, and I free captive items. This is not how this is supposed to work. Another eternity goes by, and I press the magic button again, while holding my hand to the glass (ok that didn't happen, but I thought a visual could help).

So, giving up, I decided not to buy the power banks. 

Come to think of it, I'm not in a rush, if I willing to wait a month, I can order online, and get a better deal. That's probably what I'll do.

You know what I wont do, is buy that power bank from Canadian Tire.

So back to the point... I understand marketing and it worked, but marketing is useless without providing for a successful transaction. These big box, brick and mortar retailers seem to be intentionally sabotaging themselves by undervaluing the shopping experience that well trained staff provide.

In conclusion while I would love nothing more than to shop locally and support local, sometimes it's not my fault, despite all attempts.

Have an opinion about this post? 

Let me know.



  1. so i feel you pain , living in a rural area we often can't find what we want locally, we do alot of online shopping. my bitch is walmart is getting rid of cashiers and making us use cash or self checkout. i will not be shopping there anymore, thoughts

  2. I wasn't going to bring up the self-serve issue but since you addressed it, I'll do a follow up post. I know how you feel, the other day went looking for an outdoor fire pit Lowes, 0 units in my city, and 83 two cities away (30 minute drive). Maybe this is why Amazon is doing so well? Stay tuned for part 2, and thanks for your reply


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