So, why are we so taken with big box shopping? And how good are they at delivering a great experience?
- One stop shop - everything you need can be bought in one place, saving you time, money and effort
- Access - most big box retailers are easy to access, even in the city core, with plenty of parking
- Price - no doubt about it, if spending less matters most, you will do no better elsewhere
- Choice - because of their sheer size merchandise is widely available
On their own, the above suggests it is worthwhile to shop exclusively at these retailers. But, let's look at the bigger picture - for those of us seeking a great customer experience, it will be harder to come by...
- A little bit of chaos - stores are often busy with long cash line ups and hard to find help
- Not a lot of soul - florescent lighting, cement floors and endless aisles of merchandise
- Time - although you can get everything in one place, finding what you need can take a while
- Service - often it isn't great and while there are exceptions, no one is consistent
Where does this leave us? Simple. If you are looking for a one stop shop and don't care about being wooed by a great customer experience, than big box retailing is absolutely for you. Moreover, they provide affordable options and are accessible to pretty much everyone. Therefore, it's hard to argue with their success.
I, on other hand, crave the EXPERIENCE, so I choose to shop elsewhere, when I can. I prefer a place where I can relax, enjoy the environment and be well taken care of. Even if I have to pay a bit more to get it. Of course, unless you live in the city core and don't mind spending a bit more money, there aren't a lot of alternatives, especially when you're shopping for food, electronics or home improvements. But I chase it anyway!
I would challenge big box retailers no differently than the grocery store chains to see how they can improve the customer experience without veering from their priorities of price, choice and accessibility. And as a suburbanite even I can admit to a new found big box dependency - I'd just prefer that be by choice instead of need.
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