Excellence is the aim is almost every human endeavour and retailers, instead of bleating about the loss of business to technology, need to find ways to make their product (physical shopping) a more engaging experience. And they can do that by thinking outside the square and being excellent in everything they do.
Calling markets “gritty” is favoured by some traders and even global retail experts like David O’Neil. But I have yet to find a customer say “I love the grittiness of the place”. They love the people, they love the connection with first level business, they love the freshness, and they love the cheap prices.
A certain grittiness is acceptable when you are the cheapest act in town but when your competitors lift their game, meet your price, and offer equal or better service in other areas, then grit becomes just what it is.
The problem with “grittiness” is that it is often used as an excuse for less than excellent performance and it manifests itself in untidy stall presentation, poor service, resistance to change, and refusal to put the customer first.
Markets are great places for direct access to goods, and keeping things simple is a great way to keep prices down. But there are plenty of inexpensive ways to engage customers and provide excellence in service and presentation. Excellence will beat grittiness any day.
By Greg Smith