Birding Business September 2013

Publishers Note

A Changing Landscape
BY RAY DAVID | Editor/Publisher

In the 18th century consumer goods were made by hand to fill a specific need and in most cases the producer of the good was also the user, or sold it directly to the user. In the late 19th century manufacturing was in full swing, we began to see chain stores open up and brand names enter the marketplace, and the distribution chain grew larger to serve an expanding market. 

By the late 20th century the retail landscape had become a morass of products and brands and the push was to increase the number of shelf facings.  Now in the early 21st century we seem to be reverting to a system by which the producer of the product can once again sell it directly to the user. But should he?

In the decades before this magazine began in the mid-90s, retail had been a pretty steady, dependable way to earn a living. Since then however, overwhelming forces like the internet and giant retailers have forced independent store owners to re-make themselves again and again. Some have been able to lead the charge in their own direction, growing the whole pie, not just their slice of it; others created their own niche to protect themselves against the onslaught; a few were unable to adapt and closed their doors. But the dynamics have changed… today the retail arena has a new competitor – the manufacturer.

We don’t sell to the big box stores…

“Great Mr. Manufacturer, but that’s sooo 1990s”, says one of our readers, an independent store owner. He has questions of those who supply his inventory needs:  1) Do you sell the same product direct to the consumer? 2) Do you sell on eBay? 3) How about on Craigslist?

Today a consumer can come into your store, find a product she’d like to buy and scan the label on her phone, comparing your price against others. In some cases your biggest competition may be your supplier. What do you do about that? Some of them may work through a 3rd party seller like an e-tailer, but the store owner still has to fight someone for every sale, even when the customer is inside his store. The days of the manufacturer selling to the distributor who sells to the retailer who sells to the consumer are not yet gone, but the need for increased efficiencies and shortening the links in the sales chain is turning out that light. Everyone wants to buy at the lowest price, but if the independent retailer is shut out of the equation it’s doubtful the distribution chain that remains will sell more product – probably less. 

The corner store advertises, promotes, interacts with the community, has the knowledge, face-to-face contact with the end user that the internet and big boxes don’t, and is the one source that maintains inventory of hundreds of SKUs and trained staff to sell it. That’s an asset the internet can’t replace. The only thing they need now is a level playing field.

Selected items in this issue are available below.  Subscribe to the magazine for all the stories.

In this issue...

15 COVER STORY - The Bird House
By Mike Anderson

You’re gonna’ lake this store.

Turn Problems Into Pluses by Hank Weber
An unhappy customer is your chance to be a hero, solve the problem and gain a loyal customer for life.

Fall Tune-Up and Winterizing by Hank Weber
How to prepare your feeders for the seasons birds are most reliant on them.

Designated Feeder Binoculars by John E. Riutta

Sell more optics and help your customers enjoy their bird feeding at the same time.

Industry News

New Products
Book Reviews

Letters to the Editor


ON THE COVER

At their lake-side store The Bird House, Rob & Cathy Morin do whatever it takes to make their
customers happy.