WHSmith are Boring

A sign in the Winchester branch states that WHSmith have joined the list of retailers who have stopped accepting cheques - Shell made headlines when they announced they were to do the same back in September last year. Apparently WHSmith are concerned about fraud, and this news story implies that it’s only an experiment, but it wouldn’t surprise me if part of the decision is also related to the cost of processing and handling, and that this will become permanent - after all, it’s rare that you see a cheque being used in a shop now, and with good reason - they are tedious, awkward, and slow to process.

To my mind, WHSmith have a bigger problem, though - they are getting boring and desperate. My stationery purchase was accompanied by two exhortations to buy other, totally unrelated, products. As Seth Godin has explained at length, this kind of marketing out of context just doesn’t cut it any more - and it annoyed me. I’m not really clear any more what it is that WHSmith sell, but I rarely go there - certainly high street branches - to buy anything, and this kind of behaviour doesn’t endear me to them. As their product set begins to die out (CDs are dying, DVDs will, papers and magazines will, books will, stationery will), it becomes hard to see what areas that can invest in.

Do WHSmith have a strategy for the future?


"A discussion on that might be veering dangerously around the ‘not speaking for IBM’ area though, so let’s leave that for an offline coffee sometime." Oops... perhaps I shouldn't have written this article (http://gendal.blogspot.com/2006/06/scoble-meets-jonathan.html) or this one (http://gendal.blogspot.com/2006/04/jonathan-gets-top-job.html) or even this one! (http://gendal.blogspot.com/2005/09/sun-why.html) But yes... perhaps it's better for an offline chat. I'm actually in Hursley tomorrow..... you guys around any time?
Can I join in for offline coffee?
Maybe they have? Being aware of the problem might not be a solution. But I'm not sure I agree with your comment about Sun anyway. A discussion on that might be veering dangerously around the 'not speaking for IBM' area though, so let's leave that for an offline coffee sometime.
I place WHSmith (and Sun Microsystems, for that matter) in the "if they didn't already exist, would anybody create them?" The answer for both, today, is no. The problem is that neither of them has realised it!