Feb 3, 2009

Would you like some Cheese with that Whine?

Once again, I am forwarded a "poor me" email from a scrapbook industry retailer. This retailer/wholesaler needs to generate a lot of quick cash in order to survive the next three weeks. They are calling on their "friends"to save their business because they aren't ready to "throw in the towel, yet". Huh? Why is poor planning on your part the responsibility of your customers?

It was about 700 words of whining and crying about how terrible this is for them and several reminders that it's "tough for everyone" right now... but, you've got to save us. What about your customers who have lost their jobs or their homes? They could use some "saving" right now, too.

I WILL give them that they offer the customer something in return, a discount on their purchases. BUT, then they remind their customers that it's the "total AFTER the discount, not the total BEFORE the discount that matters" and "don't count shipping because we lose money on that anyway". In other words, "here's a discount for you, but ignore it and buy more".

Here's the kicker - they are offering a discount on FUTURE merchandise if you buy now. That seems a bit like cashing your paycheck at the Money Tree and wondering why you can never get ahead. So, if they are bleeding cash NOW, and essentially selling future merchandise at half price, will they ever catch up? When the new inventory arrives, will they have to beg again and offer a further discount for the NEXT load of new stuff? It seems to me that they are just digging themselves a great big hole to fall into.

Today, they sent a further email saying they are at "80% of their goal". Do they have a big red chart they are coloring in like a charity drive or something? They reminded customers how important this is to THEM to survive.

My point here is; DON'T DUMP YOUR SORROWS ON YOUR CUSTOMERS! THEY. DON'T. CARE! They might care a little, but, honestly, the relationship between a retailer and their customer is pretty one-sided. Customers will stay only as long as they feel they are getting something from you. Once they decide you aren't worth the trouble or you annoy them or someone else offers something better, even your best friend will take her purse and go. It's not personal, it's business. Too many retailers in our industry think it's personal, but it's not, it's business.


Scrapbook Update said...

Kim, your last paragraph really nails the problems of some store owners. Because they have friendly relationships with their customers as part of creating a special atmosphere in their store, they think of their customers as friends. They don't draw that boundary line that those people are customers and realize what that means. And it is a big difference...a true friend can be motivated by a desire to help you, while as customers we are only exercising self-interest when we shop.

Sandra @ The Memory Workshop said...

Red flag!!! I think their pleas for help might have done more harm than good.

While some "friends" might place goodwill orders, other savvy consumers would never risk sending money to a business that is clearly weeks from ruin. What guarantee is there that you'll ever get the products you paid for?