If you believe a recent Tribune article, brick and mortar retailers are dying because shoppers generally don’t pay stales tax on the Internet. Their proposed panacea is to clamp down on those nefarious Net retailers and “level the playing field” by getting Illinois legislators to force them to charge sales tax.
But that’s about as big a bunch of BS as Lindsay Lohan going to rehab.
The truth is, as long as you have the instant gratification edge, you have the keys to the kingdom. C’mon! Even if the online shipping is free, the average American doesn’t have the patience to wait for their latest prized possession. They want to take it home with them.
So since my son wanted some headphones and my wife wanted a bluetooth speaker, with the Cubs playing even worse than a sixth grade baseball team, I headed over to the Batavia Kohls because they were advertising both at a good price.
The first thing I did was ask a couple of checkers where the electronic items were, but neither one knew. No problem. My son and I simply walked around the store until we found them way in the back. But with the merchandise crammed onto a small cart and in a general state of disarray, it was difficult to find the specific sale item.
With no staffers on floor, we went to the service desk and the 50 something lady manning it couldn’t have been less helpful. When I told her the item was in the Sunday paper, she pulled out two flyers and casually tossed them at me. The problem was, neither one of ’em was the correct ad.
So she used the walkie talkie to no avail – we were simply redirected back to the same crowded cart we’d found on our own.
So we walked all the way back to the front of the store, got the correct ad from the checkout counters, walked all the way back to the back of the store, and asked to see the manager.
I will say she managed to appear in a timely manner, but it was only to tell us that advertised item – the one in TODAY’S paper – never made it to the store. She also apologized for our less than stellar shopping experience and offered to call other stores to find the AWOL speaker.
My polite response was that it was much easier to get it online and that I wouldn’t be darkening Kohls’ door again.
How can you screw up something this simple? Even if an employee doesn’t know where an item is, that’s why they have the walkie talkies! How can the service desk have the wrong ad? And how do you not have an product advertised in one of your biggest sales of the year?
Brick and mortar retail isn’t dying because they charge sales tax! It’s dying because, in their headlong effort to save every last penny, they make shopping an utterly miserable experience. And Kohls is not nearly the only perpetrator. They don’t seem to realize that you don’t have to deal with a surly customer service desk employee online!
And don’t tell me, in this job market – especially for young people – they can’t get decent employees. If you want to see how it’s done, go to any Portillos during the lunch rush where they even have folks helping you out in the parking lot.
But instead of addressing the obvious, Kohls will pay some consulting firm millions of dollars to figure out why their bottom line is getting a wee bit redder every year. Goodbye Kohls! You won’t be missed.