Friday 9 June 2006

No Ethos at Etos

Shopping like Duty Free

One would think the whole purpose of locating an outlet or shop at a passenger's terminal is to engage the custom of the crowds that pile through that environment as they commence, conclude or continue their journeys.

Hence, having a snack bar, a fast-food outlet, newsagents, sweet shop, essentials shop, drug store, a music and video store, flower shop and basic electronic goods store on that location would make sense.

In major terminals, you can have a dry cleaner, key replication services and shoemakers, a clothes shop, a watch store with a battery replacement service and probably little outlets of bigger supermarket or major high street shops.

That was the example I encountered at Berlin Hauptbahnhof which had shops on at least 4 levels catering to every kind of requirement, though, one should not expect for have a hardware goods or gardening store in a station, those things would appear too cumbersome to lug around and transport by train, for instance.

Customer demands need ready supply

The whole idea of paying premium rentals to afford instant customer exposure that exploits social attitudes as impulse buying, instant requirements, forgetfulness redemption amongst other traits to be available to offer services that meet these everyday issues.

It would be silly to open a shop that never gets visited, like a funeral parlour on a station concourse - what for?

Demographics, logistics and social analysis

Another aspect of this retail phenomenon is to insight into trends and requirements of customers as seasons change - gloves for winter, umbrellas for wet days, ice cream during hot months, medicaments for cold, flu, hay fever, headaches and general ailments.

There is always someone who realises a birthday needs a card, an anniversary needs flowers, a celebration needs sweets maybe cakes, a long journey requires reading material and so on and so forth.

Retailing is not so much about getting stuff off the shelves into customer bags; that is important; but logistics is the heartbeat of retailing - ensuring that the supply of goods readily meets the varying demand with respect to the points I have already raised.

It is no good to play hindsight provisioning in realising that what customers have demanded all day ran out last night.

Out of stock?

So, imagine my discountenance when I, having forgotten my instant relief medication for hay fever and thinking I only have to visit the apothecary (Etos in Dutch) at the station and then finding out they are out-of-stock.

The June and July months are the high season for hay fever sufferers, everyone is purchasing eye drops, nose sprays, tablets and possibly acupuncture if available and the two stores of the same chain at two ends of this major station has run out.

Well, the stores did have every other kinds of medication, but it is unlikely that those would move off the shelves as hay fever remedies would considering the season and the fact that the phenomenon is not some strange happenstance that took hold this summer.

Early rising dearly losing

One would have been able to get the medication from chemists on the high street, but at that time of the day, being the rush hour - shops in stations open a lot earlier, close a lot later, have a ready customer flow and demand and should know what should be on their shelves being no greenhorns in the business.

This time, with Etos, I was entirely unimpressed.

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