The title is a quote from one of the retail managers we will meet later in the article. Write down whether or not you agree with this quote before reading further.
If you look at it carefully, it is not difficult to see that retailers should have no pricing power. After all they are just the channels.
They do not know why the end customers are buying the products (What job is the customer hiring the product for?.
They do not make the products and do not take the risk of investing in R&D, design, supply chain etc.
They do not build the product brands and take the marketing investment.
But they do add one important value – connecting the producers with their target customers and enabling customers get the products they want, providing convenience, service, experience and information to make informed decision. So they get their a share of the value from the producers in the form of low prices they pay to producers or taking a cut of list price (think 30% fee by Apple or Amazon for Apps).
They can choose to share some of this value with end customers in the form of price discounts. They can choose all of the value and more for certain products in the hope of making up for it from selling other products at fuller prices (Loss Leaders).
some we won’t make money on, some we do
What we see with Black Friday deals is even deeper discounting and far too many loss leaders.
Black in Black Friday is supposed to mean ‘turning profitable for the year’ for the retailers. How can the retailers expect to make profit with deep discounts? Best Buy’s chief of retail operations had this to say about his store’s policy of deep discounting:
the point of all the discounting is to earn shoppers’ loyalty for future purposes
Let us stop and take a careful look at this. The only reason we see mob scenes on Black Friday is the deep discounts. Given that customers are willing to shop anywhere and if needed stay in long lines just for lower prices, how can you expect any loyalty?
If they were attracted by deep discount, and ONLY deep discount, to come to Best Buy, what makes you think they will remain loyal when some other store offers same or deeper discount in the future?
This brings us back to second part of the question we did not address on value add – what unique value does the retailer, the channel, add to end customers? When they have no products, no brand power or a compelling unique value to offer and compete only on price, they should not be rationalizing their discounting with hopes of future loyalty.
The deal seeking Black Friday shoppers, having scores their 60-inch flat screen TVs have moved on. Nothing other than even more discounting will bring them back.
The Point of all the discounting is not to earn shopper’s loyalty but a reality forced by the channel’s lack of value add to its end customers.