He notes that last year Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren said that while Amazon might pose some threat in apparel sales it would suffer because it was not prepared to handle complexities such as returns of items. But to Amazon, that’s just another challenge to be handled by data and technology, as it is showing. When Amazon opened a physical store, it looked at retail through its own eyes and, in an age of mobile devices, eliminated cash registers, checkouts and lineups.
But most, of course, aren’t all that effective for now, even at a basic level of romancing the customer, let alone the redesigned future he is calling for, where stores are redesigned around experiencing the product under consideration.
You can also make coffee on the coffee maker you are eyeing, test all the other appliances and cook alongside a professional chef in a kitchen to understand those products. “They have made every inch of that store experiential,” Mr. Stephens says. And it’s paying off:
Sales for every square foot exceed the Apple Store, long considered the gold standard. Along with experiences, employees need to be super-knowledgeable in the product line, able to tell shoppers more than they can learn from Google.
“There is no difference between the message and the ability to buy on the spot. So the store is media. Amazon does that millions of times a day,” he says.
At that time, the price for cranberries was high; they grow well and wild here and it was a chance for him to buy an excavator and play in the dirt. The idea was to sell to one of the two packing houses, about 2,000 pounds that first year, but both [buyers] said no. We bought deep freezers out of the newspaper and sold those cranberries locally.
Nova Scotia’s a small province – we didn’t want to go head-to-head with neighbours. Customers kept asking for other products, like dried cranberries with less sugar than other brands. We developed a process to dry cranberries, a tricky thing because the skin is waxy, designed to hold water and protect the cranberry. Our process keeps vitamins and the juice, with 40-per-cent less sugar.
But, their pitting machine is old, doesn’t get every pit. “May contain pits,” means “Guaranteed to contain pits,” so we paid for the tooth of the lady from Prince Edward Island and only make cherry juice. The market’s grown so we’ll take whatever Atlantic cherries we can, but we also buy from an Ontario farm.