Crossword – Why I think the end is near…

Went to Crossword on Saturday as I wanted to gift a book to someone. I had two books in mind and both of them are easily available in most online stores. But that would have taken 3-4 days to arrive and I wanted a book immediately.

I couldn’t find them easily there so asked the guy on “Help” counter to see if he had them. He said both were not available, though I could see some quantities for the second book in their system. I gently pointed it out to him. Reluctantly he started looking for that book in the philosophy section. He pretended to search for it for 10-15 minutes and meanwhile asked me the name of the book & author thrice. Obviously, he had not heard of either of them before, and it was not even one of those lesser known books. After 15 minutes, I found him elsewhere and asked him about the book – he said he couldn’t find it! He lost an opportunity to sell something he already had in his store and his apathy was appalling. You can’t just put a person with some retail experience in bookstore or music store. They need to know the product(s) that they are selling. I walked out, and this is not the first time I walked out of Crossword recently.

Can’t help but recall a young & enthusiastic guy (a Surd) that Landmark, Pune had few years ago as one of the sales guys in the store. You just need to have a brief talk with him for 2 mins and he used procure the book from some corner of his relatively huge store within few minutes. I really miss that personal touch now in the real stores. Obviously, this was before Flipkart was born and Amazon India was nowhere in the picture…Anyway!

BTW, Crossword still does not offer any discount unless you have their loyalty card and interestingly they print 2 payment receipts with a new carbon paper for each sale. The start-up entrepreneur inside me was shocked to see this blatant wastage & associated overhead costs. I think they have a brilliant chance here to ask customer for his/her email ID and offer to send him an e-receipt on the e-mail. In the process they will not only save the ridiculous overhead costs of those duplicate receipts, but also grab an opportunity to capture a customer lead in their system.

Dear crossword, you are already losing your sales to online stores like Flipkart & Amazon. And I can very well imagine the kind of costs involved in the huge inventory and those large real estates in the prime areas. So when you actually have a customer walking in your retail store to buy something, treat him/her well enough to make sure that footfall gets converted into sales. And yeah, please hire people interested in books & music rather than hiring people from those nearby retail stores selling grocery and clothes. And I also hope that you read ‘Have Breakfast… or…Be Breakfast!‘ if you haven’t read it already!

Unless it is urgent, I really doubt if I would want to buy a book/CD/DVD from Crossword next time given the experiences I’ve had in the recent times. Unless they drastically change the way they do their business, I think the end is near for their physical stores!


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