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There's gold in the corners

  • Opinion
  • November 4, 2015
  • Philip Ebbitt-Manson
There's gold in the corners

Hotfoot's Juanita Neville-te Rito: This week we have a guest blog from one of my favourite people, Philip Ebbitt-Manson.  Currently the General Manager of BedsRUs, Philip is as mad as a cut snake (that’s a good thing), an incredible thinker, accomplished retailer, terrible skier (just ask about his last skiing mishap) and is very tall.  He has penned this blog out of sheer frustration.

Having been dragged along to sign up for the gym by my wife, I was given a consult by a fitness specialist. 

“And how tall is sir?”

 “I’m six foot five.”

“Oh, you don’t look that tall.”

“That’s because I am perfectly proportioned.”

 “You are enrolling at a gym sir.”

“Good point.”

The rest of the day was followed by a fitness spend up, to prepare for a snowboarding trip that we decided to go on 45 minutes after signing up for the gym. My wife had a blast in Kathmandu, Torpedo 7, and other specialist stores buying up jackets pant, boots and gloves. 

But at every turn I was frustrated. I am a large-framed, 50-something man, 115 kg, six foot five inches tall, with size 13 feet. Boy, did we get it wrong. 

We were so wrong. Wrong time. Wrong sport. Wrong, wrong, wrong. 

For the uninitiated, snowboards are selected for riders based on their weight and shoe size. “So you need a blah blah blah wide board, for your weight, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those, but it doesn’t matter because we don’t have your boot size anyway.”

Here is the real point. My old marketing manager boss had a saying: “there’s gold in the corners”. He was referring to the niche and smaller markets that often get over looked.

As a gangly teenager – at that stage a mere 6 foot 3 inches - my parents went to some expense to have a long single bed made for me. When I moved out of home, they advertised it in The Herald and the phone did not stop ringing. The demand was such they could have sold that 7 foot long single bed 20 times over. It’s that experience that motivates me to persevere with my search because I know there will be a market for my snowboard gear if I break my leg, arm or back on my first outing. (Post blog note – that sort of occurred).

Retailers, listen up at this point.  

Those of us able-bodied people who dwell in the 5th percentile of height, weight, or anything else you can imagine, are used to being ignored. We don’t get special car parks, toilets or changing rooms, and evidently we don’t deserve the choice the mass market average, middle of the bell curve customers deserve.

But retail businesses are awash with information on customers and their behaviour, which should mean there is no need for those of us at the tails of the bell curve to miss out. Retailers run out of the size 13 shoes and the tall fit snow pants in an XXL, because it’s an afterthought, bought once and not to be reordered, and because they sold it all. Which means they got it right, right?

WRONG.

Better integration of customer data and lost sales data would allow retailers to manage the stocking and supply chain logistics that support a great customer experience for a larger retail market. We need better integration of data throughout the retail sales chain.

The 5th percentile is a market worth having. No matter if its height, weight or head size, we are hundreds of thousands of customers strong.

Sales data will only ever tell what happened. It’s your lost sales and customer data will tell what could have happened, and will help you find the gold in the corners.

This post was originally published on Hotfoot's blog, Retail Geek.  

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