The end of “same store sales”

For many years corporate leaders and industry analysts have made “comp” or “same store sales” their go to metric for the health of a retailer.

It’s time for a re-think.

For any retailer that is building out robust omni-channel capabilities, the lines between digital and brick & mortar are increasingly blurred. More and more, the web influences retail sales and stores help drive e-commerce business.

If a customer makes a purchase on their mobile device while at–or shortly after visiting–your store, is that a physical store sale or an e-commerce transaction? If a store sales associate finds a product from the on-line assortment to save a sale, which channel should get credit?

Customers shop brands, not channels or touch-points. Any marketing that builds your brand, drives customer engagement and activates a sale, helps all channels. Your job is to stop obsessing about channel attribution and make your customer experience as frictionless as possible.

If you do not know what percentage of what you call e-commerce sales comes from customers who are close to one of your physical stores, you need to get busy. And if you do not know what percentage of your customer base makes a purchase from two or more of your channels (stores, web, catalog) in a year, you will want to add that to your priority to-do list. FYI, at the last retailer I worked for, both of these numbers were north of 50%!

Once armed with this insight you will see why “comparable trade area sales” and “comparable customer segment sales” are something to start tracking. [And if you are an industry analyst, it’s time to start asking the companies you follow how they are doing on these increasingly important metrics.]

Don’t forget, silos belong on farms.

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