Store Model

Over at Wharton's web site, they're talking about how there's no Toyota in retail. Unlike industries like cars, airlines (Southwest), or hotels (Ritz-Carlton, say), there's no model of customer satisfaction in the retail world. Four operations experts at Wharton are trying to define that model, pointing to inventory management and happy customers as the keys to creating the ideal retailer. Neither of those are big surprises, but I'm curious: Which retailer is worth aspiring to? Who do you think is the Toyota of retail?

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11 Comments

  • Don Jarrell

    Talk about Good vs Talk about Bad
    Have to wonder about the relative impact of postive and negative experiences. Jena and Wharton apparently found few talking about the good. By contrast, eMarketer gave statistics on consumers who are
    "Frustrated and Fleeing"
    One might exect that the good experiences Jena has asked for would stand out, but what psychological forces might be at work (apathy, cynicism ?) to so reduce consumers' expectations or state of mind that they don't even notice when the service is really good ?

  • Don Jarrell

    I certainly second Nordstorm's as the Toyota of retail. If looking for thought stimulus on the subject of catering AND CRM/mining, you have to look at *some* of the top-tier casinos: Bellagio, Palm, Mirage - and I expect Wynn will follow. It is tough to top someone walking over, handing you a glass of fine champagne, with a Annette Benning-intense "have a wonderful stay". Granted, they have a huge incentive to suck megabucks out of a blissful customer, but they KNOW what they're doing.

  • Aaron King

    If you're looking for the Southwest, Toyota, or Dell (although, Apple may have been a better representative within the computer industry) of retail, you have a wide variety to choose from.

    Names that immediately jump to mind: Starbucks - as Jack mentioned, Whole Foods, Best Buy, and Kohl's. Although some of these have limited track records, all have developed a fiercely loyal customer base - a trait shared by the other companies cited in the article, and the foundation for success in any B2C industry.

    If one is looking to identify the secret, they simply need to look at how these organizations have developed such loyal and vocal customers. In retail, the customer isn't looking for much; a plesant shopping experience, convenience, price, and inventory ("Is the item I want in stock?"). Retailers who exceed expectations in these simple categories will quickly find success. Organizations who commit themselves to exceeding these expectations, almost to the point of obsession, will easily establish themselves as the "Toyota of retail."

  • Jack Cantwell

    The "Toyota" of retail ...there are countless local purveyors out there who have won the loyalty and trust of their "regular" customers (who become unpaid sales people between visits. Chains? Two come to mind ...Starbucks and Olive Garden. Both seem to empower the people who run the local operations and set high standards of both product and service. Jack Cantwell

  • Diego

    If by "Toyota" they mean an organization focused on continual improvement of a low-waste, lean, information-driven process, then I'd have to say that the Toyota of retailing is Dell.

    Their go-to-market approach gives them an advantage that's unassailable unless you want to tear down your own system and start over... which is the decision Toyota's competitors have had to face. Porsche took the Toyota plunge and it brought them back from the brink...

  • Bill

    No retailer like Toyota; meaning that there is "no product that provides the same level of satisfaction and has developed the customer loyality that is provided through ownership of a Toyota vehicle", or that there is "no retail experience that equates to (the absolute discomfort of) purchasing a car."

    Retailers on the leading edge of developing and maintaining customer loyality, however, might be Tiffany's or L.L. Bean.

    Retail is easy compared to chain restaurants. McDonalds (like it or not) has developed the consistancy. So has In-N-Out Burger.