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Archive for September, 2013

imagesCA8R9FZ1 convenience storeWe’re fortunate in the village where I live. We’ve got four convenience stores and two of these anchor the High Street. They’re the local stores of two big nationals and come from the two extremes of the corporate spectrum: one’s a an example of expansionist capitalist success, the other has its roots in worker solidarity.

Today being Sunday I was off to collect my croissants for breakfast and my Sunday paper. I usually go to one, the nearer one, but sometimes it lets me down so I go to the other. Not a big deal they’re only 200m apart. Today they both failed me.

First stop no papers. Why not? Because they haven’t come. But why? Well maybe ‘they’ got their dates mixed up (the store is closing for a refit tomorrow).

Now given that picking up your Sunday papers is a ritual for many people and you’d like to make sure that they keep coming back to you you’d expect a rather more proactive response wouldn’t you? There are three full-sized versions of this convenience store within a 15 minute drive. Why couldn’t the store manager have covered his shortage with a little help from one of them?

So I’m off to the second one which has just had a refit. Actually I could see little difference after the refit except that the papers were no longer by the door but as far back as you could imagine. Whose convenience was that for? Certainly not the person who simply pops in for a paper.

At stop number two there were no croissants. When I asked an assistant went into the back and emerged with one. Will there be more? Don’t know. Not really terribly helpful. Now I don’t know what the incremental cost of a croissant is but I’d bet that it’s only pence compared with a selling price of 74p. If they’ve sold out by soon after 0800 you’d have thought an extra session in the bakery would be worthwhile

So It’s back to store number one for my croissants.

It’s hardly the end of the world but it does highlight these stores indifference to the minor inconveniences which they may cause you. It’s OK to not have newspapers because its our system which chose not to supply them and it’s OK to run out of croissants because we only decided to bake a limited number. The fact that local people ‘depend’ on the convenience of these stores to deliver and be dependable doesn’t seem to be a part of the equation. Surely such stores want their customers to keep coming back and not to have to go to the competitor down the street. In which case they must think more about their customers’ convenience and be a little more obsessive about (a) their dependability; and (b) the response they give when they fail.

So: convenience stores, whose convenience?

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ParkAndRideSignOxford20050910I learnt my marketing in the chemicals business. I was at the specialty end but a lot of what I sold was in a competitive market and price was an important tool of the trade. And we never made price decisions lightly. (more…)

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