BEST OF THE BLOGS: Convenience proves to be king in the urban retail jungle

The death of the once ubiquitous corner store has been talked about for seemingly decades in Australia. Milk bars and the like, with their limited customer base and high overheads, were seen by most retail experts as a quaint relic of a bygone era.

But retail trend expert Kevin Moore noticed on his recent trip to Hawaii that the convenience store was very much alive and kicking in the US. While maybe not of the same ilk as your local milk bar and more akin to the small footprint shops favoured by 7-11 in major CBDs, these convenience stores are sprouting in response to increased urban density.

According to Moore in his blog on Monday, a chain called ABC has all bases covered in Honolulu:

ABC is a fantastically buzzy and useful chain with stores on almost every corner and attached to many hotels. In fact, when we asked, we were told ABC stands for “All Blocks Covered”, meaning there is a store on every corner of a city block. Well, in Honolulu there certainly is.

But it’s not just Hawaii. The trend to small, convenient stores selling consumer wants, not needs, can be seen in places like Mexico and China too, says Moore:

I was working with a global big box grocery retailer in China last year and a key strategic platform was the rollout of small footprint, convenient mini-grocery stores.

It will be interesting to see how Australia adapts to this trend, especially now that more and more people in our major cities are deciding to forgo the purchase of the detached suburban house in favour of units and apartments closer in to the cities.

Negotiate this

Psychologist and business trainer Eve Ash has been dispensing advice around these parts for a while now and her blog on Tuesday took a pragmatic approach to the often psychologically fraught topic of negotiation.

For anyone who has ever been fast-talked into paying too much for what you thought was an authentic handwoven Afghan rug (an entirely objective, ‘this didn’t happen to me’ example), her advice is clear and sensible, with not a lot of room for parlour tricks:

Negotiation is not about taking as much as you can from the other party. You will be much more successful in discussions if you are aware of the other person’s interests and work to satisfying those as well as your own.

Of course, you could always take the Marxist approach to negotiation.

Suck it up or shut it up?

Most of us have at some time said something that in hindsight we have regretted. SmartCompany blogger Kirsty Dunphey shared her particular moment of candour with us in her blog on Wednesday.

“Suck it up” is an especially emotive phrase and Dunphey says she immediately knew she was skating on thin ice when the words left her lips:

Yes, I had told this woman’s (adult) daughter to “Suck it up”. Yes, I could have chosen better words. Yes, I knew it would come back to bite me as soon as the words left my lips.

As the proverb goes, Discretion is the better part of valour. Our unfortunate choice of words can often end up setting the tone of our dealings, whether it is with fellow employees or customers.

Going native with social media

SmartCompany has recently boosted its tech stocks with the addition of several new bloggers for our TechCompany newsletter that goes out weekly on Thursday.

Among the additions has been digital strategist Fi Bendall, who kicked off her blogs with a series of straightforward guides to how SMEs could create their own digital communications plan.

While we take for granted that the digital revolution has well and truly happened and social media is an integral part of how we now do business, there are still many Australian businesses coming to grips with what all of this means for them and struggling to get on board.

This week Bendall looked at how business could bridge the gap between digital “immigrants” and “natives”, something that has been perplexing many a media mogul for the past few years:

In 2005, Rupert Murdoch infamously said, “What I worry about much more is our ability to make the necessary cultural changes to meet the new demands of the digital native”.

In 2012, we can still observe our media owners struggling with the digital native internally and externally to their organisations.

Bendall shuns the rat race for “likes” and retweets for an approach that values real engagement:

Forget loyalty and reward, think relationship and recognise those connections. We all value being treated as people, not as numbers or orders.

Hello, this is Istanbul calling…

Alright, blogger Naomi Simson is not on the panel of Turkish judges for Eurovision. But she is at the international Entrepreneurs Organization Conference in sunny Istanbul (not Constantinople).

She has five insights gleaned from the conference so far about what it is that drives successful entrepreneurs around the world:

I attend these events because it gives me a chance to reflect on ‘what now’ – and also to be inspired by the 800 other entrepreneurs in attendance, each of them here because they want to ‘play a bigger game’ too.

Sometimes a trip to an exotic locale can be just the tonic for refreshing our view of the world and our place in it.


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