Is the Retail Industry Following in the Footsteps of the Banking Industry?

The indicators say yes. Fortunately, they are early enough to provide warning if the companies will listen. Note the similarities between the industries:

The banks started with a mergers and acquisitions stage with the larger banks gobbling up smaller ones. They created behemoths with a total disregard for customer service and employee morale. Add aggressive lending to unqualified borrowers, a hiccup in the economy and you have a recipe for internal combustion.

There were plenty of warning signs starting with high employee turnover rates and ending with customer churn. You have to REALLY annoy someone for him or her to change financial institutions. So much banking is done electronically; it is challenging to change everything.

Retailers are in the final mergers and acquisitions stage. In an effort to reduce costs, they have virtually eliminated service. (Check out the latest American Customer Service Index.) A happy sales associate is a rare find. Instead of unqualified lending, they offer aggressive discounting which destroys profitability. This holiday season may be the perfect storm that starts the collapse of the major players in the retail industry.

It isn’t too late to alter their course, but they have to address their issues aggressively. There are plenty of warning signs, if they will just look. And, then develop a strong multichannel strategy that embraces customers and employees. It requires evaluating their business model and finding better ways to integrate channels.

Small retailers may step up like the smaller banks to serve the disillusioned customers. They will have challenges overcoming the negative image and fallout from the industry failures. The ones who rise above the issues will become the next leaders.

For more information on the warning signs, go to for your free guide, 10 Hidden Signs Your Company is Sinking.

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