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Are Gift Cards Keeping Stores In Business?

I was given a gift card awhile back from a big box book store, and while doing some Christmas shopping, I figured I should cash it in, before I lose it.   Normally if I even buy a hardcopy of a book these days, I buy it from, so as I stepped inside the huge bookstore and looked over the insane Christmas crowds, I pulled out my list of books that I was looking for.

Not knowing where to start, I found a fancy looking kiosk where I could type in the title of the book I was looking for. It said there were two in stock in the business section. I found the business section, it had a lot of books stacked on a lot of shelves, and I started looking… 15 minutes later and I had a friendly employee looking with me. Found it! Someone had covered the two copies of the book with another book, hiding it in plain sight! And since I am an efficient kind of guy, I found book number 2, while I was looking for book #1…

Back to the kiosk… and book number 3, now waiting in line behind a  guy whose list was way longer than mine… where did that employee go…  Huh, not in stock?  Book number 4 was in the general community section, whatever that means. I tracked down another employee who walked with me to the other side of the store to hunt this one down. There were 16 copies in stock so it was easy to find. I took my three books back to the front of the store to wait in line to pay. The line snaked back and forth and up the middle of the store (I did say it was Christmas time).  Finally got to the checkout, paid full price for my books and left the store.

So what is point of narrating this shopping trip? Because I rarely go into a store to buy anything anymore. What I can buy online, I buy online. My hour long $105 trip to Chapters would have been a 2 minute $62 sit down at my computer (I just tried it).

How does that make sense? Are gift cards keeping retailers in business? When was the last time you bought a real book, or even worse, a cd?  And boxed software?  Really?  Scott has a great post here on that topic. And how often does the internet not have something in stock?

Wow times are changing.  I don’t think retail stores are dead, far from it, but retailers definitely need to come up with other ideas and products to get people in their stores, or they are going to close up shop – it is happening right now to Blockbuster.

But, just like any other organization, you have to be flexible and change with the times (or lead the times).  Do you know the challenges and changes facing your organization?

Posted in Business, Random Thoughts.

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