The Problem With the Big Retail Chains

Lately, I have been thinking about the retail business. More specifically, I have found myself comparing the big retail chains with the small mom and pop corner shops. I have found myself thinking about these things following a recent event, where I had a rather nasty encounter at a big retail chain outlet. I won’t go into the details here, only to say that the encounter left me with a very bitter taste in the mouth. And it got me thinking about the downside to the big retail chains: a meditation that culminated in today’s blog post, which is essentially a criticism of the big retail chains.

In a nutshell, I think that the problem with the big retail chains lies in their size: the reality being that the ‘big’ retail chains are simply too big and too complex for their own good.

Thanks to their huge scales of operations, the big retail chains often lack a personal touch in their dealings with their customers. Granted, they do, of course, go to great lengths to create a feeling that the individual customers matter. That is like where, for instance, Kroger, which is one of the bigger retail chains, has taken the trouble to set up an online customer survey – which is brilliantly described in this Kroger feedback guide. The aim is to make the individual customers feel that their individual views/opinions matter. Ultimately though, and whatever they do, the fact remains that the big retail chains lack the personal touch associated with pop and mom corner stores.

Further, thanks to their huge scales of operations, the big retail chains often take too long to respond to new trends. Granted, some of the bigger retail chains have devolved quite a bit of their decision-making powers to the local branches, where the local branches are left to figure out ways of dealing with emerging local trends as per their assessments. Still, the fact remains that the huge scales of operations undertaken by the big retail chains end up slowing down decision-making processes: making it hard for them to respond to new trends in a timely manner.