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  • 4 Oct 2010

Rog Day 15

I woke up just in time for the Bacon sandwiches that the cabin crew were bringing around. We landed into Heathrow T5 just before 10am, and after passing security and collecting my bags, I met up with Nick who was going to drive me home. The feeling when I saw my house was just one of jubilation, and when my Wife opened our front door and my two Boys came running to greet me, I was so overwhelmed it was unreal! Being back in my house after being away for 2 weeks was very strange, but really nice.

How best can I summarise my trip? Well, its 10 years since I last visited, but I still find the States has a certain magic about it. I found Atlanta a very, very friendly place indeed, which I think was due to a combination of the direct and confident American nature and the excellent weather! Most people were just so happy, and I must admit that waking up everyday to sunshine and blue skies does make a massive difference.

As far as business goes, the Americans have a refreshing and quite laid back approach, but that said they still manage to focus on producing results, and work extremely hard. From a sales perspective, their direct way allows you to know where you stand very quickly, and they are big into being honest up front so as not to mislead; basically they don’t like wasting time, whether it be theirs or yours, which I just loved. In the UK I think we are far too guarded, and things are often done strategically and tactically, which sometimes makes you feel like you’re in the middle of a game that quite often you have a feeling you’re going to lose, but you’re never ever really sure, and hence you just have to carry on playing until somebody decides that it’s the end and you’re told the outcome!

Retailing over there isn’t fundamentally different to here in the UK, and whilst in Atlanta I experienced out of town malls as opposed to bustling city centres, this in reality is no different to the out of town retail park which has been part and parcel of UK retailing for a good number of years now, and is actually getting larger and more diverse.

Retailers in the US have the same challenges as here in the UK as regards stock accuracy and efficient supply chains, and in some instances, have greater challenges in relation to logistics and replenishment due to the sheer size of the country.

The Chip & PIN scenario, as I’ve mentioned several times, was a big surprise, as was the number of large companies that are only now starting to realise the potential of e-commerce, and a number I came across didn’t actually have an online presence, which for the size of their respective businesses was staggering! I was also very interested to see how high up the agenda the subject of ‘the customer experience’ was, given that a lot of UK retailers are really focusing on this, and again I was very surprised to find that this was not something that people talked about. From an actual customers perspective, based upon the shopping I did whilst over there, I never once came across anything that made me think ‘wow’, and my overall opinion of my experience was, well, just normal really. There was no shortage of customers, as the malls were always busy, so this is definitely an area where I think big improvements can be made.

One thing I do think we’ll definitely see more of is US retailers moving into the UK market, especially in apparel and the like. We’ve already come across one retailer that has firm plans to open stores in London next year, and it wouldn’t surprise me if I come across more during the remainder of this campaign.

The end!

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