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  • Tomas Lee

The Secret To Survive The Retail Crisis


Coffee is always my passion as many's already known me for and my #coffeetour has never stopped even if the sky falls.

In the last few weeks, I had a chance to tour two different roasters that never visited in my past life. One recommended by an old colleagues on FB (Restoration Roasters); Another one's simply Yelped randomly (Reborn Coffee Roaster). Meanwhile, have you noticed many consumers just like me have very limited channels to explore new recreation sites for enjoyment? Word-of-Mouth (Referral) and Social Media/Review App are very typical in this case to fill the needs. For small retailers, those two marketing channels shouldn't be missed. The number of new roasters in great Los Angeles area is continuously booming, so does the fast-food chain store or restaurant.

From 2015 to 2016, for the first time in history, Americans spent more money at bars and restaurants ($54.857 billion) than they did on groceries ($52.503 billion). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014, the average American household spent $2,787 on restaurant meals and takeout, compared to $3,971 on groceries. But in 2015, the average amount spent on restaurants and takeout jumped $221 to $3,008. Grocery spending, by contrast, increased just $44 per household to $4,015.

The average Millennial (Age 18-36) eats out five times a week, and between Starbucks runs and bar tabs, especially since the growing popularity of online ordering service like Postmates, Uber Eats and Grubhub, make ordering food and avoiding supermarkets, where the food is cheaper, easier than ever. According to a study by Bankrate.com, 30% of Millennials say they buy brewed coffee at least three times per week, 51% go to a bar at least once a week and 54% eat out at least three times a week or more.

What I've recently observed in the City of Industry, the heart of PC Hardware Industry in the late 80s, 90s and early '00s, is aligned with that study result. Very noticeably, more and more diners are filled in the leasing retail spaces and those newly built concrete bunkers. Among the pile of food-chain stores, Starbucks' stands out really well from the crowd by establishing 4 different locations, each sets only less than a mile apart from other, in the Zip Code 91748. Two has Drive-thru service; three has "Mobile Order and Pay", "Verismo" system, "LaBoulange" pastries and Google Wi-Fi; and most definitely, all of those covers the famous Digital Rewards. If people insists retail is dying, they might be blind-sighted without seeing the full dynamic shift in consumer behaviors as data shown. Each new flashy diners has the latest, space-saving palm-sized Point-of-Sale (POS) system accepting digital payments to reduce the check-out processing time and increase table turnover rate. Unlike the dinosaur diners mainly serving the Baby Boomers, the new generation stores all constructed in a much smaller footprint with amazing interior designs and decorations, from modern contemporary style to industrial design look, to stimulate their customers' appetite and deliver a memorable dining experience.

To whom avoids its retail business burying in the graveyard, you must consider revolutionizing and renovating the storefront design with technology integration, training your staffs to produce a superior customer service, and prominently, redrawing your shopping/dining experience in the whole nine yards, from the very moment customers look for parking space outside and put their vehicles in parking mode, to every second they're browsing around for what they are intentionally or unintentionally there for or the minute they wait in-line for checking out their orders, to the finish line they carry a big smile feeling satisfied about their visit and walk toward the exit door. Devil is in the detail.

If the young roaster-chains like Blue Bottle and Philz Coffee can survive the giant competition like the Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Peet's, why can't you? It ain't easy, but not difficult. Just simply fill yourself looking through the consumer lens and utter a customer-centric solution with your truthful heart.

Ref:

1. Millennial Spending Habits Differ From Older Generations

2. List of Coffeehouse Chains

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#InnovatorsDilemma #Retail #CustomerExperience #Fastfood #SocialNetwork

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