The old pillars of new retailing.
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Despite the harsh realities of retailing, the illusion persists that magical tools can help companies overcome the problems of fickle consumers, price-slashing competitors, and mood swings in the economy. Such wishful thinking holds that retailers will thrive if only they communicate better with customers through e-mail, employ hidden cameras to learn how customers make purchase decisions, and analyze scanner data to tailor special offers and manage inventory. But the truth is, there are no quick fixes. In the course of his extensive research on dozens of retailers, Leonard Berry found that the best companies create value for their customers in five interlocking ways. Whether you're running a physical store, a catalog business, an e-commerce site, or a combination of the three, you have to offer your customers superior solutions to their needs, treat them with respect, and connect with them on an emotional level. You also have to set prices fairly and make it easy for people to find what they need, pay for it quickly, and then move on. None of these pillars is new, and each sounds exceedingly simple, but don't be fooled--implementing these axioms in the real world is surprisingly difficult. The author illustrates how some retailers have built successful operations by attending to these commonsense ways of dealing with their customers and how others have failed to do so.
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