How Target Missed the Mark on Black Friday

This year wasn’t going to be about shopping and crazy lines for me and my family.  We spent our week preparing for family gatherings and getting the supplies ready to do a large smoked turkey to bring to my mother-in-laws.  It was full of laughter and celebrations.

However on Friday, we needed to get some supplies and we ventured out for both groceries and some last-minute birthday gifts at our local Target store.  It was busy in the store, but to be honest, most of the chaos was from the Target employees themselves, moving carts around, checking supplies, having chats on walkie-talkies between the front room and back room, and what seems like a lot of “standing around”

There are two things on my families gift list that is in the electronics section, so I went to looking for it.  Low and behold, it was more difficult to find them in this remodel.  Maybe that makes me look at more stuff?  or just get more irritated by the shopping process?

When I finally did find the item (a new camera), we realized we would need to find someone at Target who can help us get the camera behind a locked case.  Ok, I thought, there are lots of employees standing around, so I went to speak with one.   He said “No, I cannot help you, I don’t work in that department”  (but… you are standing right here??)   I went to speak with a person behind the electronics counter and there are already some folks in line.  Someone asks me if I need help and I say I would like to buy a certain camera.  He dispatches another person who walks with me back to the camera isle.

Here is where Target missed the mark on Black Friday.  (several years ago, Best Buy did the exact same thing to me, and I have no stepped foot in a Best Buy store since.)  at this moment is where a good brand loses a customer for life.  Target take note. Best Buy take note.   FYI, this is several hundreds of dollars I am about to spend in your store for a nice camera.  ok, here goes:

The employee begins to rattle off every piece of information he knows about this camera without first asking me a question.  He goes on and on and on, holding the camera and touching each button and telling each feature and why to buy it.  (Is he trying to impress me with his knowledge?)

Finally he is done talking and asks “what do you wanna know about this camera?”  My response is clear: “Do you have it in stock?” and “What can you get me to go with it?”

He stares at me for a second, as if not understanding the question.   My wife leans over to me because she has a mobile phone and has already figured out that they have none in stock but a couple other stores in town do.

The employee looks in the glass case and says “Nope, we don’t have any…. and I am sure it would come with a charger.”   then he said the one thing that will ensure I don’t purchase electronics ever from Target ever again.  “You could order it online and have it shipped to your home!”

BINGO!   YOU JUST WON THE EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH CLUB!!!
You and that guy who told me the exact same thing at Best Buy 8 years ago!

Guess what – telling me I can go online to buy this camera will ENSURE that I will find a better price, a better deal, and a better package than what you can offer me.  You just took $800 out of your employers till and sent it to some other company out of town.

What I expect from Retailers like Target and Best Buy

In order to compete with Amazon, New Egg, B&H, and other online retailers, you need to step up your game.  Sorry that it comes to this, but if your employees are being trained to tell customers to shop online to find your products, that is a very risky thing to tell customers and you better be ready to lose that game, UNLESS:

  • Match online prices for your products.  As soon as you tell me i can go online to order, I am going to search for the best price, its just what I am programmed to do.  If you match that price, I will stick with you.
  • Have inventory on-hand.  Whats better than walking out of the store with the cool thing you have been wanting to buy for your wife for many months at the price you wanted to pay.  When you say “It is across town at another store”, how does that help me, your customer?  Why can’t you say “I see it is at another store.  Let me dispatch that for you and it will be sent directly to your home.  You will have it by the end of the day! ”  (Your competition is doing that – with Prime Now.)
  • Offer packages.  If I buy that camera at my local boutique camera store or even on Amazon, they will offer me sweet deals on kits that go with it (nice case, memory cards, tripod, extra charger, etc).  So when I say “What can I get with this?” some stores have said, “You are spending $800 today, we will throw in this nice camera kit that you will enjoy using.”   It gives me the customer a little feeling of love.
  • Make your store easy to shop at.   Your recent remodel made the aisles tighter, so now two people cannot move a cart through at one time, and finding products is a maze.  Whereas, finding a product on Amazon is getting easier and easier.  Amazon is becoming the hottest search engine where people go to find out information about things to buy.  Which brings me to my final point.
  • We are an educated consumer society.  I have so many places to find information about products:  my friends, coworkers, family, people I meet who use products, Amazon reviews, google searches, YouTube videos, company FAQ sheets, etc.  By the time I walk into Target to look at the product hands-on, I have already done a ton of shopping on this product.  I don’t need your employee telling me a bunch of facts about it.  What I do need is him or her asking “How can I help you with this today?”, then doing everything they can to make a sale happen.

Honestly, stores, I want to shop local and I do shop local when I am able.   But if you don’t have the products, don’t have the service, and cannot offer to me the way to get the product, I am not sure how you are competing for me?

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