Three Ways Retailers Are Impacting My Household

July 1st was a dark day at my house because that's when Amazon started charging sales tax to Texas residents.  Now instead of automatically knowing that the Amazon price was likely lower, I have to consider tax in my comparisons.  I'm not hitting that "add to cart" button quite so fast.  Why would Amazon surrender in its well publicized battle with states to collect tax?  Farhad Manjoo over at Slate wrote an article that provides a logical explanation.

It seems that Amazon gave in on taxes in order to build more warehouses closer to their customers.  They may lose their tax advantage, but they will gain the ability to offer next day shipping.  I'm often impressed how fast Netflix delivers DVDs using local warehouses, so I guess Amazon is planning the same strategy, complete with Kiva robots to keep the warehouses efficient.  The big advantage for physical stores has always been instant gratification, but that may be changing.

The second change at my house stems from my wife.  A few months back I gave her a subscription to BirchBox and she loves it.  For $10 a month, they ship her a monthly sample of high-end beauty products.  The cost basically covers shipping and she gets lots of free samples.  This morning my usual soap was replaced by a delicious smelling orange sphere which I assume was soap since it was in the soap dish.  By itself that's fine, but the problem is she really likes some of the items, and of course she orders more.  Well played, BirchBox.

Lastly, the HEB grocery store down the street decided to remodel.  That meant that everything was a mess and my wife couldn't find the things she usually buys.  As punishment for complaining about the lack of ice cream in the house, I got to accompany her to a HEB Plus (think warehouse) to finish her list.  Not being the shopper in the family, I was quite overwhelmed.  To help ensure this form of torture would not be repeated, I pointed out all the marketing tricks throughout the store.  My wife could care less why flowers are at the entrance, why certain brands are on endcaps, and why the milk is always at the back of the store.  Mission accomplished.

Have your own tales of retail?  Share stories in the comments.


What a great blog David! Retail is passion for me, not because I know it inside out but also because I love to shop. So that would make me (with all respect!) a crossover between you and your wife :-)

Too bad BirchBox does not operate in Europe where I live, or where at least my wife lives since being an EMEA wide Oracle employee that makes me travel a lot outside Europe.

In one of those business travels I get to meet Sourcing managers, Chief Planning Officers, and loads of Retail people from Israel, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, etc...

When asked about an example of innovation in Retail most of the time I give my favorite feature from my closest hypermarket: self scanning. My customers in these emerging markets laugh and tell me that self scanning would never work in their countries.

But guess what? According to Luigi Frison from Datalogic, it actually lowers the theft ratio. “The real turning point starts with innovative solutions,” explains Luigi Frison, Marketing Manager for Datalogic Mobile EBS, “used inside the store itself. A concrete example is self scanning, which allows for reduced waiting times at the checkout and a direct interaction with the consumer, but also ensures that the retailer has a better understanding of and greater control over its customers.”

You can read the whole article here:

I love self scanning and every time I use it 30% of the time I spend teaching senior citizens how does it work!
Also another funny thing is the look you give whenever you find another self scanning customer alone with you in the same isle. It's a mixture between: "You're like me, but I don't know you... but you must be a smart guy/gal".

The worst story about self scanning I have was when I forgot to scan a last minute item that went into the shopping cart, when doing it with my younger 10-year old son.
Weeks and weeks of 100% successful employee product auditing/sampling went down the drain! I had a reputation in the system, and because of a simple mistake, I had to start building my "rep" all over again.

I guess the next level self scanning would be to have more than one scanner for each loyalty card, so I can give on to my kid making him responsible for his own bubble gum :-)



Posted by Luis Moreno Campos on July 24, 2012 at 11:30 AM PDT #

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