Size Matters

Small is In
by Robin Lewis

Pardon me, but I just can’t help myself. I seem to have an Edgar Allan Poe-like fixation. In this case I’m stuck on small format retailing, including “moms and pops,” as a winning model in the over-stored and -stuffed 21st Century. Again, this is due to the format’s “smallness,” which affords it easier physical access to the consumer, across the street in their neighborhoods. It’s my preemptive distribution “thing” again: the necessity to get to the consumer first, faster and more often than the hordes of equally compelling competitors, or you lose.

And, while everybody says, “…oh yeah, I get it,” most are thinking about e-commerce. Well, while I most certainly understand that e-commerce is enormous, and the fastest growing retail preemptor, I’m finding it very difficult to get senior retail executive readers to understand that the bricks and mortar/physical aspect of the total preemptive distribution strategy is just as important.

Some of the larger players, like Walmart, Home Depot, Best Buy, Office Depot, Staples, Target, CVS and Walgreen’s, are beginning to get it. And, I do believe Walmart opened their eyes a bit wider upon realizing they were losing enormous share to the dollar stores who are blowing out their small, neighborhood stores across the country. In the department store sector, as I’ve said many times, Kohl’s led the small, convenient, neighborhood strategy way before I think they even realized it, back in the early 90’s. JCPenney picked up on the wisdom of that preemptive strategy and now has its own small store strategy. Bloomingdale’s does as well, and I wonder when their parent Macy’s will opt in. Their localization strategy certainly begs for it.

And, by the way, while this small store strategy is a necessity to continue winning share of a no-growth pie, the big traditional players also must understand that the other preemptive formats such as branded specialty chains, e- and m-commerce, TV, kiosks, pop-ups, food carts, in-flight shopping, door-to-door, living room selling parties, tractor-trailer tour trucks, and probably a dozen others I’ve missed, are not sitting still. They will continue to evolve and create. Evermore.


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One thought on “Size Matters”

  1. I sure hope you are right. I live in a relatively small town with a beautiful Main Street and see firsthand how difficult it is for local retailers to make a decent living. The ones that survive seem to be those that are experience-based or carry products that cannot readily be located (or price-compared) online or at the mall.

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