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Retail is Reality (Part 1)

It matters to drycleaning owners, here’s why

SAN FRANCISCO — Maintaining the status quo is a danger that most often results in stagnation and deterioration for businesses both large and small.

This pattern is well-demonstrated in the retail world that is currently undergoing a major transformation, with many players jockeying for improved market position.

There are some strong lessons to be learned from the successes and failures that have emerged. There is a serious game being played by the traditional and non-traditional retailers as they fight for customer attention, dollars and loyalty.

You may be thinking: “Why does this matter to me? I’m not a retailer. I provide a service.”

On the contrary, your business is directly related to this battle that is being waged by competitive retailers because they:

  • Provide your customers with the textile products that you care for.

  • Share and compete for your customers’ disposable income.

  • Drive traffic patterns toward or away from your stores.

  • Train consumers to increasingly rely on and use technology for goods and services.

  • Drive and define the fashion trends that affect what you clean (or don’t clean).

  • Educate the consumer eye to what is a fresh “retail” environment.

If your business isn’t thriving, growing and looking to the future, it may be at least partially because you are lagging behind in making changes that are necessary to compete with others who have done a better job of observing impactful trends and participating in the necessary competitive changes.

The most successful fabricare companies are not only participating in but anticipating and often leading the industry in making the transitions early.

Leading the field is not to say that you must always be on the bleeding edge of technology and innovation. But awareness and early adoption can provide an advantage that keeps you ahead of the profitability pack.

So what are some of the key lessons to be learned from the retail industry maneuvering?


Take the case of the retail icon JCPenney (JCP) as they went through a very visible and very publicized disastrous transition to “Lower Everyday Low Pricing.”

According to a September 2013 article by Panos Mourdoukoutas writing in Forbes: “What haunts JCPenney? A strategic mistake regarding its pricing strategy — replacement of sales through coupons with everyday low prices.”

He opines that, “JCPenney’s strategic mistake comes from a misunderstanding of an important difference between itself and Apple stores: Hype! Apple’s word-of-mouth (WOM) and ‘buzz’ marketing machine and unique products already hype customers heading for its stores. They know what they want; they don’t need conventional sales promotions to be lured to the stores.”

But JCP doesn’t have a similar marketing machine, and its products aren’t unique either; they are carried by Macy’s, Kohl’s, Wal-Mart, and Target, he writes.

“This means that JCP’s customers have yet to be hyped (according to customer feedback). Boutiques/streets, Wi-Fi, juice bars with smoothies and coffee — no long-term customer of JCP cares about all that. JCP got away from what it did best.”

They forgot their core advantages, such as carrying big and tall where they had a lock on the non-specialty shop market.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion.

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].