Dec 7, 2006

"Too Much, Too Little, Too Late"...

Remember THAT song from 1978? It was sung by Johnny Mathis and Deneice Williams (she sang, "Let's Hear It For the Boy" from Footloose).

Well, that tune has been going through my head this week as I read an email sent from Provo Craft to their LSS customers in a sorry attempt at damage control after the Cricut debaucle at Thanksgiving.

Here's the text of the email with my comments:

Valued Retailer,

Over the past several days, we have heard from a number of our retail partners (umm, I BET you have...) regarding the introduction of the Cricut™ product line into the mass retail channel (no, it was already in the mass retail channel - call a spade a spade and say, WALMART).

Listening, understanding, and responding to this feedback is very important to us. We acknowledge the very real challenges you face every day in operating an independent business in an industry of intense competition (be we don't intend to help you - just work against you). As you know, the retail market is comprised of different types of retailers each providing products, services, and benefits to their consumer. We believe that within our strategy there are some very compelling common goals consisting of expanding and strengthening the craft industry while running profitable businesses. Two important components of this strategy are supporting both the seasoned crafter frequenting your specialty store and actively pursuing and developing new paper crafters and scrapbookers who are not yet visiting your location. Provo Craft can provide you with a partnership plan that will help you further realize your market advantage, gain additional traffic growth, and maximize that traffic for long-term sales opportunities (except with the Cricut, which we told you would be a great "big ticket item" a year ago and forced you to buy tons of it to gain the rights to sell it - but hey, you can always sell our lead-loaded charms...) . As this partnership plan matures it will reinforce and support retailers small and large "doing what each does best." (does Walmart NEED your support? I don't think you're THAT powerful.)

Mass retailers will be positioned to provide products to curious consumers who, in time, outgrow the product selection and expertise available in the mass retail channel and seek out a specialty retailer like yourself (a newbie scrapper isn't likely to purchase a Cricut for their first tool. They might buy your deco scissors and some glue sticks, but not a die-cut machine) Using Local Store Marketing (LSM) strategies developed exclusively by Provo Craft for independent retailers, you can capture the loyalty of this emerging group of crafters (and when you do, we'll dump that product into the mass retailers at the high point of your year and stick you with a ton of remaining product you have to sell at BELOW your cost).

We so believe in this, that we would like to offer you some ideas to get you started with LSM strategies, and invite you to come by our CHA booth at the upcoming show to learn more about LSM strategies and how it can work for you (BWAHAHAHAHA! Leave your pitchforks and torches in the aisle and come on in - we'll make you forget that we just tossed our integrity into the trash with our soothing words and promises). This is a process that has been used in other industries by independents for years as a tool in providing them with a competitive advantage that stretches beyond what the everyday merchant offers (interesting that they JUST came up with this since the phone began ringing off the hook - suddenly, they want to "help"). In the next few days you will receive some additional information that you will not want to miss (I'll sit by the computer...)

(okay, this next paragraph made me spit my soda all over my screen. I think they were hanging out at the Quikutz building last week when the noxious fumes were billowing out of it and they temporarily lost their minds - honestly, the retailers are boycotting PC BECAUSE of their Cricut and yet, they have the AUDACITY to offer a special on Cricut products to LSS's? I think my intelligence was just insulted!)

In support of you having sufficient Cricut™ product on hand to meet the holiday shopping season (which we just MURDERED FOR YOU by letting Walmart sell it for less than your wholesale price), we are going to assist you with an exciting Cricut™ promotional campaign (woohoo...) that we know you will find as powerful as we do in driving additional traffic into your store locations (yay, you'll get the remaining 5 people who didn't buy it at WM last month). As we move forward, you have the commitment from us to continue to bring quality innovative products to the marketplace to continue to keep our core crafters excited and coming back for more (ummm, why should we believe you - you've killed your own integrity - it's gonna take more than a little promise to win that back) . Please feel free to give me a call if you have any concerns or questions (I hope quite a few did...)

I'm speechless - truly... In fact, ironically, there is a job posting at the PC website looking for a PROBLEM RESOLUTION SPECIALIST - ahh, the irony... They couldn't PAY someone enough to do that. I wonder if the job was filled until Cricut started showing up in Walmart...

Provo Craft didn't just dump the Cricut into Walmart, the breached a trust they had built with retailers over the past year with the Cricut. They played games with shipping, enticed some retailers to overbuy the product, had a contract that was apparently didn't mean what it said and then, instead of making sure that retailers could somewhat compete, they decided to let WM sell the Cricut LITERALLY at the same price a LSS could buy it wholesale. I'd say let PC become just another "chain distributor" and move on to work with vendors who "get" it.

Like I said at the beginning, too much, too little, too late...

5 comments:

amyk said...

Couldn't have said it better Kim! BRAVO!

Anonymous said...

Kim,
I saw your post about the cricut on 2peas and then came to your blog. I LOVE the "comments" of your own you include in the letter. You're right on sister! As an owner of a LSS, one can only hope Provo Craft gets what's coming to them. Let's cross our fingers. Thanks for a good laugh!

Anonymous said...

i agree with everything you said....but what's your opinion on the product itself? i think PC was shady on their marketing stradegy... but have you tried the cricut in comparison with other machines?--eager to hear your view...

Anonymous said...

WOW! Thanks for sharing! I hate to see the big dog taking a bite out of the little ones.

I am definately boycotting all of the PC line and will tell my friends, too.

I would be interested in seeing any new developments, too.

Rebecca said...

Amen! Walmart Execs are personally responsible for my family loosing everything right before christmas. My husband works for a Company(I can't say who) and WM is there biggest customer and because some execs want to make end of year bonus they are depleting their inventory and not doing any ordering until January. My husband has already had to let 300 employees go. It is so sad that they do this at Christmas. This is how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.