Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Competing with Wal-Mart ... Lesson # 1 from Bergdahl's book

Michael Bergdahl says many interesting things in his book, but the main point I got from the book is that if you want to compete with Wal-Mart as a small business retailer, it's going to have to be through specialization and superb customer service.

On page 178, Bergdahl lays it out as openly and bluntly as I've ever heard it laid out. When I read this section, it helped remind me that the backbone of business success in America is hard work and digging out some kind of competitive advantage through that hard work. ..Be advised this quoted paragraph may sound a bit brutal. Is there such a thing as soft and fuzzy competition, though? Real competition?

      "If Wal-Mart's arrival in town is the catalyst for your business to start improving customer service, it is in all likelihood too late. A good merchant by definition should have been providing great service to customers already. Once the big box arrives it is too late to atone for past service sins and you will experience payback from customers who are well aware that they have been historically slighted. When you were the only store in town your customers were forced to shop there, but not anymore. In small towns across America, and the world for that matter, Mom-and-Pop operators who failed to serve their customers have been forced to close their doors upon the arrival of Wal-Mart. In many cases they didn't have to shut down if they had a viable retail concept that could have survived. But higher prices coupled with lackluster customer service causes customers to seek other alternatives."


Blogger Crazy Politico said...

That's a great post and quote on competing with Wal-Mart. I lived through the local fights over WalMart in Antioch, Illinois, and the fact was that most of the folks who were worried weren't going to be direct competitors, and the ones who were competitors probably fit into the group who had gotten comfortable in their position in a small town.

October 06, 2005 4:57 PM  

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