Nearly 10 Years in Corporate Retail And All I Got Was the Fine Print

fine print

Ok, I admit it. My first job out of grad school was a stint in retail. Not a cushy job either. I was part-time store employee at a large, nation-wide retailer.

I felt like I had done something wrong. How could this happen – I had an MBA in hand from a ranked school for goodness sakes! Well, it helped me to remember that it was literally *right after* 9/11 that I got hired, and just a few ugly months into the dot-com crash. I ultimately decided to give the foot-in-the-door approach a try.

It worked. 5 months later, I was up at Corporate riding high on a major promotion, and I will NEVER regret the approach I took. I got a first-hand look at the line level that very many of my peers (and superiors) never had. Don’t get me wrong, the first job sucked. BUT it afforded me the opportunity to pay attention in detail to what was going on, match it to my book-knowledge, and in short form match the how’s and why’s from the control center.

Nearly 10 years later (upon leaving for a better opportunity in a different industry) I realized that I got something out of my experience that many people seem not to: the fine print. The gray areas. Understanding of why some items can be returned and others not, all about drive times, outsourcing, how inventory moves, what actually makes money. The good stuff!

This bodes well for you. Remember, the ultimate purpose of retail (and all business, really) is not to provide you with the latest and greatest, it exists to separate you from your money.  It’s an equation of sorts: a given amount of business should yield an expected amount of profit. Thus occurs an endless rollout of promotions to draw you in, each meticulously calculated out to yield a predetermined amount of profit based on sales volume and gross margin. The good news here?  These promotions are ultimately (and sometimes frequently) repeated and thus predictable. Retailers just sprinkle on the urgency of “now” to draw you in.

So what does this really boil down to? As you might have already guessed (or have a gut feeling about), because of this “formula”, the changing and different needs of each consumer, and the desire for growth from a company’s shareholders, all deals are NOT created equal.  They just create a predictable result. Coupons are different than financing, but both create a similar result in revenue and profit. Rebates and sales, same story. Special incentives and clearance, ditto.

Dealicacy’s promise is to keep you informed, grow your retail intuition, and provide you with the tools necessary to filter out the great deals from the good. In short, watch out for what’s best for you by reading along here.

Enough with background, introductions and purpose — Now we can start getting to the good stuff!


– Nathan

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