Successful CE Retailing, The Nordic Way
The challenges of operating a retail chain in the 21st century have been well documented. From category killers like Best Buy and Bed/Bath to the 800-pound gorilla, Wal-Mart, big and small retailers face staffing, customer loyalty and returns, and e-commerce issues which make growth a tough task and profitability seem like a mirage.
Imagine then trying to operate a retail chain across four countries, dealing in four different currencies, having to clear customs via two borders, and doing all of that from one distribution center with products that have shorter and shorter product life cycles.Add to that stores located in regions with long winters, very high sales taxes, and employment rules that make firing or layoffs extremely difficult and costly.
Hi-Fi Klubben (or Hi Fi Club), the 80-store CE chain based in Denmark, has not only thrived in such circumstances, but has managed to weather a deep recession as a privately-held, self-financed company whose customers are considered club members and whose sales staff are all empowered to solve customer problems on the spot.The firm has store locations in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and now The Netherlands, all serviced by one central distribution center in Denmark, which means that goods are shipped from the DC across borders, both into and out of the European Union economic zone.