I received an email from a good buddy of mine, Richard Schenkar, about his experience with the new Seattle CityTarget store.
If you haven't heard about this, Target is opening test stores in the downtowns of several major cities. The first three opened the same week in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Seattle. The experiment is to have a smaller footprint than a typical Target store and higher prices.
And that's where Richard's experience comes in. He saw a Target ad in the local paper for a vacuum cleaner with a coupon for a discount. Richard figured he'd go see the new downtown store and, at the same time, get the vacuum cleaner.
Richard picked up the vacuum, headed for the checkout and presented the coupon. Nope, can't use the coupon here, he's told. This is a CITY Target, not a regular Target.
These are two different stores? CityTarget has the same colors as Target. The Target.com website shows the downtown store when you do a search. It doesn't even call the downtown store CityTarget. It's called Target Pike Plaza. There is no CityTarget.com website.
I don't know about you, but I've always had the philosophy that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.
Granted, in the giant picture, this might be a small issue. So they didn't take Richard's coupon? So what?
I think it IS important for several reasons. First, I believe this damages the Target brand. Target has worked hard to build a solid, dependable brand, and now they've made a stupid, typically CORPORATE decision to make policy different for differnt locations. I've said over and over, in branding EVERYTHING WALKS THE TALK. And, as I've also said, it's never the lions and tigers who get to you in the jungle. It's the mosquitos.
Little things matter. Little things, like this, bother customers a lot. And everything, no matter how small, impacts your brand. Every contact…every communication…every touchpoint…does one of three things. It MAINTAINS my perception of you. Or it ENHANCES my perception of you. Or it DIMINISHES my perception of you.
Don't let a hashtag, like #CityTargetFail get sent out for your business. Take a look at those little things that might actually p— off your customers.
I recently received a coupon post card in the mail from a major retailer. Every coupon on the card was something I regularly buy from them. The catch, in very fine print, was that they wanted me to drive by not one, but two of their local stores to buy from their new store in the next town.
What are they thinking? That it would be a good idea to get me to visit their new store–that is just like the others?
I wondered how many customers filled their carts at the local store, only to hear “that coupon isn’t good at this store.”
Most probably didn’t unload their carts but made the purchase. But how many will be back?
I thought of the many young, financially struggling mothers in my town that were conned by this game.
It left a sour taste in my mouth, and I have been shopping at their major competitor since then.
I think it was Sears Roebuck that once-upon-a -time demonstrated that you could make a profit by providing good quality at a fair price, honoring all offers, and guaranteeing satisfaction for life.
Retailing is an animal that seems to be dominated by lawyer-vetted fine print. I am a suspicious customer anytime I am dealing with a large business.
I would rather pay more and have fewer surprises. And this is the way I run my business. The only surprises my customers get is that there isn’t a catch and there isn’t any fine print.