The customer is always right and they’re changing behaviour rapidly

The customer is always right and theyre changing behaviour rapidlySomething is happening, and it’s happening quickly. It hit me this afternoon when I was buying apples in Morrisons. The supermarket chain is massive. They bought Safeway (anyone remember them? I used to work there y’know) but in the run-up to Christmas their like-for-like sales dipped 2.5%.

“Hey Leigh, I’m looking for smartphone and tablet news. What the heck are you waffling on about?”


Yes, I know. Bear with me because Morrisons admitted something recently. They mentioned it briefly but I think they should’ve cranked up the font to 72 point, printed it out and stuck it all over their offices.

In amongst the press release they admitted that sales over Christmas were “disappointing” and blamed it on…

..the need to improve our promotional innovation and the communication of our points of difference… and the accelerating importance of other channels, such as online and convenience, which Morrisons has only recently entered…

Shush shush shush, because there’s a piece there that you need to highlight and print in that super-massive font I mentioned..

Online and convenience.

Let’s be honest, people are flat-out lazy.

Aww.. come on. That statement might shock you, but for the most part if people are offered a simple and “convenient” solution to something rather than having to work hard for it, the choice is obvious. Talk to your grandparents if you can. Ask them how they used to get to work, how they used to shop, how long it took. I’ll bet that if they’re above pension age then they’ll tell you tales of cycling miles and miles to work, having to walk around several shops and market stalls. To them it seemed normal, it’s what everyone did. To us it seems almost insane.

Today though, after I came out of Morrisons with my apples and saw a business man pull his Jaguar into a parent and child parking space, it became painfully clear. People will take the easiest route. Sure, perhaps I’m being harsh saying that everyone is lazy, there are still those out there who get out there and take the slightly more difficult option, but the buzzwords “convenience” and “online” have now become all-powerful.

The customer is always right and theyre changing behaviour rapidly

Recently HMV entered administration. They’re a chain of large music and video stores offering DVD’s, CD’s and electronics, but the world has passed them by. People instead chose to browse, then buy elsewhere. Online “monster stores” like Amazon and streaming video content delivered by companies like NowTV, BlinkBox, Netflix and LoveFilm have eaten away at the company. In addition, supermarkets like Tesco and Asda have massive online portals and huge physical stores where almost everything is available under one roof.

The internet has been around us for years now but, even though some of the recently troubled companies have tried to build an online presence, they’ve all failed to keep up with a society that is increasingly connected and doing more online. Comet recently imploded, HMV are in administration, as are Jessops and now Blockbuster too. The retail landscape is getting a massive shake-up. The high street as we’ve known it is changing, but strangely stores like Morrisons are only just realising that they need to move online and start selling there. This Onion video, from almost 5 years ago, joked about the “living museum” that is / was Blockbuster. We’ve gone from VHS to DVD to Blu-ray to instant-streaming in such a short space of time that the company hardly seemed to keep up. This says everything about the distance between what companies offer and what customers want..

Companies that fail to innovate will continue to vanish. People aren’t going to the bank, the local betting shop, the market, the video store and the supermarket as much as they used to. Instead they’ll check their balance on a smartphone app, they’ll gamble on sites like MoneyGaming, stream videos on LoveFilm and choose their groceries on Tesco Direct. If you can drive through McDonalds on the way home, watch a movie on your internet-enabled TV, order your groceries on your iPad and buy some music on your smartphone…. you will. It’s easier. It’s more convenient.

If you have a shop or service which isn’t available on a tablet or smartphone then it’s only a matter of time until your competitors innovate around you. Move with the times. Move quick, or you could be next to call in the administrators.

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  • Martin

    I never buy food online, I like to feel / see what I am buying, I also like to check the sell-by dates and will root around for the best dates. You don’t get that with online shopping. We tried it once, got bruised bananas, apples and things with a sell-by date of the next day, very poor. Other things, books, games, CD, DVD, BluRay, electronics, 99% of the time I’ll buy online. No need to go to the high street for those, online is nearly always cheaper. I do like to have a look around in physical shops at big things I want to buy, TVs, Fridges, other big home electrical / elecronics, I’ll then go online and buy cheaper. It is hardly surprising that these shops are closing if they cannot compete with online stores.

  • Sam

    Me and my wife used to work for Safeway then moved up north to Morrisons and found it hysterical that Morrisons stripped out all the great Safeway technology and put in their own antique systems into all the Safeway stores. When we stopped working there 5 few years ago they were still in the dark ages and I’m not suprised it’s taken them all this time to realise that they need the internet!

  • mark adams

    Its fair to say there is a retail revolution on its way, i believe a section of the community will suddenly realise that shopping local is better, as long as the local shops smarten up and prepare for this, business will perk up as people realise that the all encompassing supermarkets and huge conglomerates do not supply everything, only the bits they can make a healthy profit on. That one time you want a left handed widget, you won’t get it…