Big Box stores finally coming around to the idea of “value?”

A recent article at Forexyard addresses the idea of “value” for the consumer being the highest priority for shoppers right now. This means not only the lowest price, but quality products and reliable service. It also states that, begrudgingly, Big Box retailers are coming around to this idea. I say too little, too late.

Analysts expect Staples and rivals Office Depot and OfficeMax Inc to play the “value-for-money” card prominently to woo recession-weary customers this season.

But “value” does not necessarily mean offering cut-rate goods.

“Simply lowering price doesn’t stimulate demand,” Piper Jaffray analyst Mitchell Kaiser said, adding, “it’s going to be all about offering quality products at a reasonable price.”

Companies agree.

“Fitting the right price points and giving customers a great value will be more important in the current economy,” [President and COO of Staples, Inc. Michael] Miles said.

Really, Staples? You’re just now figuring out that maybe customers want more than a low price tag? Not that any of the Big Box places are notorious for giving a great deal, but it’s always been true that service and selection are some of the areas where they just can’t compete with the online guys. Now that the economy is rough and their profits might suffer, they’re turning to the idea of providing actual value? Sounds like a cop-out.

To me, if value to the customer isn’t your priority from day one, then you’re in the wrong business. There are lots of places to buy pens; if your end goal is to sell them then great, do that. But if you want customers that respect your brand, your store, your ideas, and the way you treat them, and ones that keep coming back to you for all their needs because they know you are going to meet them, then value needs to be at the forefront of your mind from the second you open your doors, metaphorical or not.

I’d like to see the Big Box guys get their act together, I really would. Competition is healthy and there will always be demand for instant satisfaction, where you can walk in and walk out with what you need. But until they can do that with a reliable degree of value for the customer, I’m not exactly terrified of my company’s future.

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