The Death of Brick & Mortar

So, the freezer here at YPS Manor died. We had put off doing anything about it because we were hoping that the manse would be up on the selling block and we could wait until we moved before replacing it. Alas, football season rolled around and with it the need for freezer space. So, in a wild burst of optimism, I called Sears to see if it could be fixed. The estimate to fix a 10 year old freezer that cost $300 came in at $1300. I felt so good about paying a guy $65 bucks for that tidbit of information. However, he gave me a coupon so that if I bought my new appliance from Sears in the next 60 days, I would get the $65 back as a discount.

So it became time to research freezers and see if Sears had anything suitable. Lo and behold, Sears' advertising is not a lie. They have a wider selection of appliances than any other national retailer. So after some perusal and consideration, we decided upon a frost-free model from Kenmore. As the nice man had told me I would need to go into the store to use my discount, I took a shower and put on pants this past Saturday to buy me an appliance. As it turns out, I may have been better off staying at home.

Sears' sales process for appliances these days is to have a cheerful, yet somewhat clueless, salesperson type your information into an iPad on what looks like the very same screens I could have used from home. Instead of typing my info in myself, I now get to watch clueless Bob fat finger his way through the process. The kicker comes when Bob can't figure out how to apply my discount code. The discount is the only reason I got up off my ass and came in here. No $65 off, no sale, buddy. So Bob attempts to find a coworker. Coworker explains we have to use the register. No problem, right? Except that it takes Bob no less than 3 attempts to process this transaction. At one point, he attempted to find a manager, only to find out no manager was available. On Saturday afternoon. At the mall. WTF? When did retail decide no manager on duty during the busiest shopping day was a plan? But finally, our purchase was completed and delivery scheduled. Strangely, when I went online that very morning, Sears could deliver next day, but in the store it transforms into 2 days out.

Now, I am no expert on how Sears expects to stay in business in the modern era but if this transaction was any indication, they need to rethink the plan. You need to be providing me something I can't get online when I come into your establishment, be that immediate gratification, human interaction, or physical samples. In the case of clothing, it should be things I can try on to see if they fit. For a transaction like appliances, knowledgeable and trained sales staff would be a good idea. As a bare minimum, have your people trained to complete transactions. If all you're giving me is a guy who's doing the same thing on an iPad I could do from home (and screwing it up), I have no reason to come into your establishment. I can do the data entry quicker and faster, and I don't even have to put pants on or take a shower.

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