Canadian Tire (the Tire) launched its Wow Guide this month. For those of you who have not received or had time to check it out, it’s a 200 page paper catalogue that allows customers to use their smartphone (save BlackBerry) to leverage a Tire app to obtain detailed product information, videos and even order online while browsing through the book.
For Canadian Tire (and the retail industry) this is significant for at least 6 reasons:
1) It shows Canadian Tire is serious about digital – the Tire has faced criticism for falling behind in omni-channel capability. Sure the Forzani and Tire prototype stores have been revolutionary in this regard but what about the rest of the network of stores? This initiative sends a very clear message that Tire “gets it” and has started to use its marketing prowess in this all important medium.
2) It’s not cheap – from our days at Tire and through our experience with print media this catalogue is not cheap! 200 page full colour, full distribution (12 million copies), 2 versions (see below) costs a ton. In fact Tire abandoned this type of book about 10 years ago based on ROI and expense reductions efforts. Indeed, most other retailers are moving the opposite way migrating to less print and more digital.
3) Analytics & Segmentation - this vehicle offers a great opportunity for Tire to gain meaningful insights through analytics. As digital customer interaction is 100% trackable they can learn about products, pricing, draw vs. conversion rates, ROI and more and build a virtual sales funnel by customer based on what he or she scanned, ready for follow up via email. Throw in some smart segmentation (the book comes in 2 versions: urban and home) so Tire can market to both these important but very different customers based on lifestyle.
4) It shows Canadian Tire is a risk taker again – back in the day when we worked at Tire in the 90’s and early 2000’s the company made tremendous gains as a direct result of creating a culture that promoted calculated risk taking. Employees where encouraged to do homework and make bets. Some would succeed and some would fail but you were always backed up because Tire knew this is how you beat the competition. Other firms (and we have worked for several since) reinforce status quo, low or no risk behavior. These companies never hit their true potential.
5) What about home delivery? – Under the current infrastructure customers can use the book to order online and pick up in store but that is only part of the opportunity. Some folks, like millennials or urbanites may not want to drop by a brick and mortar spot. They may want that new light delivered to their work or to their condo concierge? We argue that until Tire offers this service they will continue to disappoint a slice of the population and will be leaving earnings on the table.
6) Communication Breakdown? – we feel Tire will have an uphill battle communicating the function of the book to consumers. Sure we have seen the TV ads and if you read the first few pages carefully you get the message but it sure looks like a conventional catalogue. Will the book get the credit from consumers that it may deserve? Time will tell.
Tony Whitehouse & Bruce Winder
Co-Founders & Partners
Retail Advisors Network™
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