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September 02, 1994 - Image 70

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-09-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

siness

etailers have said for a threat to the traditional retail- houses receiving requests via
years that Ameri- ing industry, including strip computer, TV or phone are real-
cans love to shop malls and mom-and-pop type op- ly operating cheaply. Since there
are no stores, such firms reduce
and going to the erations.
"Although malls are conve- costs like real estate, decorating,
mall is right up
there with baseball nient because everything is un- shipping, stocking and labor. In
as the nation's fa- der one roof, you need a most cases, those savings are
significant amount of time unless passed on to the consumer.
vorite pastime.
"There are some advantages of
But according to you're going to one store with a
retail experts, more specific need," said Sarah Wolk, at-home shopping, but the dis-
Americans are shopping by president of Sarah Wolk & Asso- advantages are that you can't
computer, television and phone, ciates, a marketing and public re- kick the tires, so to speak," said
buying what they want lations firm in Birmingham. 'The Barry Klein, president of Barry
quickly, efficiently and often at impact of catalogs, specialty M. Klein Real Estate Inc., a re-
low cost — all of which may pose stores, television shopping and tail brokerage, consulting and de-

B A TT LE

PHOTO BY MARSHA SUN DQU IST

rot* The Dollar

Traditional
retailers are
going
toe-to-toe
against
computer,
television
and phone
shopping.

R.J. KING

SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

computer shopping will
continue to affect tradi-
tional retailers.
"To compete against
these forces, traditional re-
tailers have to be more
imaginative and address
visual merchandising and
customer service. People
will pay extra for an item,
but they want service. If
they don't get what they
want, they'll make other
arrangements, such as
shop at home."
This new generation of
shopping at home or in
the office, commonly re-
ferred to as just-in-time re-
tailing, makes purchasing
more efficient by reducing
the time, inventory, ship-
ping and distribution that
separate a product and
a consumer, Ms. Wolk
added.
For instance, mail-order

Joel Gershenson: Ready to
meet the challenge.

.

velopment firm in Bloomfield
Hills. Mr. Klein also is a shopping
center investor.
"Being in the store, trying on
a pair of pants, seeing what they
look like, looking at alternatives,
these are advantages to in-store
shopping," Mr. Klein said.

The retailers
counter
that you can't
kick the tires
over the
telephone.

"I don't think home shopping
is going to be a terrible threat to
retail stores. I don't lose sleep over
it. If you buy from a catalog and
you have to return something, it
may be a two- to three-week
process."
Supporting his comments, Mr.
Klein said traditional retail sales

are up in metro Detroit (though
slightly) and a number of
"big-box" stores — Best Buy,
Home Depot, Home Quarters —
which specialize in offering
thousands of products at low
cost under a category such as
electronics or hardware, are open-
ing in the local area at a rapid
pace.
The problem with big-box
users is they tend to squeeze out
smaller operations within a
specific field. For instance,
when Waldenbooks recently
opened a superstore in Bloom-
field Hills, Metro News Center,
a long-established indepen-
dent across the street, closed its
doors.
Wal-Mart presents the same
competition. With a huge invest-
ment in computers, Wal-Mart
can speed information on what's
selling and what isn't from the
marketplace directly to its sup-
pliers, and the manufacturers use
the information to produce what
consumers want.
Expenses for labor and work-
ing capital are cut, and those re-
ductions are reflected in
competitive or lower prices. The
winners are Wal-Mart's con-
sumers, its suppliers and its
shareholders.
`The electronic shopper is, to a
certain extent, a non-store cus-
tomer, or someone who is used to
buying from a catalog," said Joel
Gershenson, president of Ramco
Gershenson Inc., a commercial
land development firm in South-
field which owns Tel-Twelve Mall
in Southfield and Summit Place
Mall in Waterford. "Television
(and computer) shopping is an ex-
tension of that.
"To some extent, home shop-
ping is a response to people who
don't have enough time to shop,
especially with more dual-income
families. After the retail shake-
out of the early '90s and late '80s
(due to the recession), tradition-
al retailers are well-equipped to
meet the challenge."
Mr. Gershenson said weak re-
tailers, including strip malls and
independents, have already
fallen by the wayside, and those
that are left have emerged
from the recession stronger than
ever. He said malls are reposi-
tioning themselves by adding
big-box users and paying
more attention to customer ser-
vice.
As an example, Tel-Twelve
Mall will see the addition of
Media Play, a consumer elec-
tronics store, at the south end of
the complex. Mr. Gershenson
said retail traffic in the area
was dense enough to support
Media Play, which will compete
not only with retailers in the
mall, but a Best Buy across the
street. ❑

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