Raves, Rants and Thoughts

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Raves, Rants and Thoughts

By Harry Stagnito - 03/01/2015

Spring is about to commence in Chicago, I think, maybe, hopefully, and it's the time of year that everything renews itself. So, I began reflecting about many of the subjects and topics that continue to shape my professional growth in the retail industry.

Following in no particular order are a few random musings about the good and the bad in our industry, and a variety of perspectives on the world of management, as I (and others) see them.

First, a rant. We claim that our goal is to make stores more shopper-centric, more of a positive experience, to provide a good emotional environment. And then we often forget the No. 1 tenet of the retail business: most of the retail experience is influenced by the store personnel, beginning with shelf stockers and ending with checkout personnel.

I am continually amazed that these people, who have the most direct contact with shoppers, often are the least prepared, or interested, in ensuring the goal of a positive shopping experience. The only ways to improve the problem are better training and supervision, and a pay scale that rewards capable employees.

OK, I'm aware of the difficulty of finding labor in high-turnover positions. But look at those retailers that have solved this problem.

The good, no, great, news is that our industry is making real progress in the critical areas of category management, and in-store and shopper technology. It's real. And new, effective products and concepts are being introduced every day. If you're not rapidly moving in this direction, you will be left behind.

From my reading list:

About People. "Introverts are not smarter than extroverts. And on many kinds of tasks, particularly under pressure, or multitasking, extroverts do better. Extroverts appear to allocate most of their cognitive capacity to the goal at hand, while introverts use up capacity by monitoring how the task is going." – "Quiet," by Susan Cain

About Problem Solving. Lyndon B. Johnson worked his staff as hard as he worked himself. One night he came upon a clerk sitting behind a high stack of letters looking miserable. Upon being asked what was wrong, the man said he was answering letters one at a time from the top of the stack, and then finding later letters from the same people lower in the pile complaining that their earlier letters hadn't been answered. Johnson is said to have turned the pile of letters upside down, and said, "Start from the top now, and you'll get their latest letters first. That ought to cut your job about in half." – "Presidential Anecdotes," by Paul F. Boller Jr.

New Retail Marketing. Doug Stephens, in his book "The Retail Revival," says: "Stop thinking channels and devices. Start thinking moments and surfaces. Today's marketer should be more in terms of identifying the precise moments, instances, occasions and snippets of time in a consumer's life when they genuinely need what's being sold." And, that technology is now available.

And life. "Nothing is worse than that moment, during an argument, when you realize you're wrong." –"Great One-Liners," edited by Marcia Kamien.


"I am continually amazed that these people, who have the most direct contact with shoppers, often are the least prepared, or interested, in ensuring the goal of a positive shopping experience."


– Harry Stagnito,

President and CEO,
Stagnito Business Information