Monday, October 4, 2021

#137 Boyds Magical Retail 


#137 Blog Post - Tuesday, October 5, 2021


Posted by Denny Hatch


BOYDS: A Magical Retail Experience!
Can You Replicate It Online? Yes!



Shopping for clothes has always bored the hell out of me.


All my working life I had a business wardrobe that served me well for sales calls, meetings and conventions. When I went freelance and started working from home, I did not use these duds very much, but I was always dressed appropriately.


Over the past six years I dropped 30 pounds through a combination of daily yoga and a healthier diet. My waist went from 40” to 35” and my collar size shrunk a full inch. My former upmarket wardrobe became more and more ill-fitting. Dress shirts with a 17” collar billowed out in all directions. Jackets drooped off my shoulders and all my trousers—like on Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp—were saggy-baggy.


Peggy was fed up with how I appeared and urged me to get a few nice clothes—a blue blazer for winter and a sports jacket for summer… plus a couple of pairs of trousers that fit.. and maybe a few dress shirts.


For years my store of choice in Philly has been BOYDS on Chestnut Street. There was never a wait. The selection was vast. The sales personnel and tailors were world class. They  got me in and out quickly. In 2018 The New York TimesSteven Kurutz did a long feature story on BOYDS, The Last Great Clothing Store.


Last week Peggy and I went to BOYDS. I had forgotten what it was like to be coddled quickly by consummate professionals in a world-class retail store.



The palatial main floor had been redesigned to attract and serve Philadelphia’s upmarket women. Men’s wear was two flights up the wide marble staircase. We were immediately greeted by Joe Marcella, an elegantly attired and affable young man—masked for the Pandemic of course—as were we. We told him why we were there. He nodded and asked us to follow him to the elevator, which we took up to the next floor.


In one of several small sales solons, Joe handed us an ice-cold bottle of water (it was beastly hot outside). Peggy sat down in one of the comfortable chairs. Joe eyed me up and down, walked across the room and plucked a blue jacket from a rack and helped me on with it. Sleeves a bit too long and a tad tight in the middle. Otherwise, a perfect fit. 


Joe excused himself and ducked into an adjoining room and returned with two pair of trousers—dark gray and khaki.


NOTE: Joe did not measure me. He simply looked me over and knew instantly what would be right. Later, when we talked about a shirt, he used a tape measure to verify the circumference of my shrunk 16” neck.


I went into the large private dressing room and donned the trousers. When I returned, Sergio, one of BOYDS’ 40 tailors (also masked) was waiting for me. In no time he had made a few chalk marks on the jacket and sleeves. “I have arms of slightly different length,” I said. “I know,” Sergio said simply.


We had a brief discussion about the length of the trousers. “My legs are different lengths.,” I muttered. “I know,” Sergio said.


“For the shirt cuffs,” Joe asked me, “buttons or cufflinks.”


“Cufflinks,” said Peggy.


“Buttons,” I said. “I keep losing cufflinks.”


While Sergio was chalking and pinning, Joe stepped out of the room and returned with a light blue no-iron dress shirt from which he removed myriad pins and cardboard backing and unbuttoned it. I tried it on, and it was a perfect fit.


After donning my street clothes, Joe led us to the cashier. “Denny needs this by September 9th,” Peggy said to Joe. “He’s giving a speech in Connecticut.”


“No problem,” said Joe. “It’ll be ready on the eighth in the morning. I’m in. If you’re not here by noon, I’ll give you call to remind you.”


Peggy gave them our credit and signed the chit. Three minutes later we were out Chestnut Street.


Elapsed time: 41 minutes.


I Loved it!


On September 8th, we returned to Boyd’s to pick up my new wardrobe. Joe and Sergio met us. Quick try-on of jackets and trousers. Everything fit fine. Joe hung each jacket and trousers on a fat plastic suit hanger and presented them to us in two elegant, heavy-duty traveling wardrobe bags. Not chintzy, temporary plastic. These things will last for years!


I loved the entire experience!


Advice to Direct Marketers
Study Amazon and Steal Smart!

Let’s start with this premise: You are a seasoned direct marketer. You know how to approach customers and prospects with offers and persuade them to order.


Because you are online, your buyers have not gone through the hassles of lost time and travel to your store.


Instead, they have invited you into the privacy of their homes or offices where you can whisper your message directly into their ears—with no distractions. Right away you are one up on bricks-‘n’-mortar retail emporiums from the corner newsstand on up to Home Depot and Tiffany & Co.


Why Does the Online Shopping Experience Go Sour?
The Place to Look is Abandoned Shopping Carts Stats!
In March 2020, 88.05 percent of all online shopping orders were abandoned, (i.e. not converted into a purchase).”  

Imagine the mayhem if 88.05% of all supermarket customers abandoned their chock-a-block full shopping carts in the aisles and went home!


Why Do Online Buyers Bail Out? Here are 10 Reasons.

1. Annoyed at Complicated Checkout Process
(DH Solution: Consider using secret shoppers—not friends and family but strangers with no connection to marketing or to your business. Send them your mailing or ad and have them order. If they get frustrated, have them tell you where, when and why they got bogged down).

2. High Shipping Costs or Slow Shipping
(DH Solution: Many marketers offer FREE SHIPPING! It can be one of your 
Unique Selling Propositions (USP). Sharpen your pencil, study your costs. Test pricing.)
3. Shipping Costs Listed Late

(DH Solution: Don’t promise a low, low price up front in the offer and then wallop them with an outrageously high shipping cost at the end. You immediately look sleazy.)

4. Forced to Register and Create an Account
(DH Solution: Make it easy to order. Don’t make extra work for the customer when there is no need for it. I never agree to create an account at the outset; I’m not ready to become a regular customer.) Here's how Peter Christian—UK menswear catalog—handles it:


5. Lack of Payment Options
(DH Solution
: Make it easy to pay—whatever is most convenient for the buyer. For example, some merchants refuse to take American Express payments because of high fees. Bite the bullet, Baby. You want a happy customer, not a happy in-house bean counter.)  

6. Unsure of Security Features
(DH Solution: Reassure the customer his name will never be revealed or sold to others who could bombard him with offers.) Here's how Peter Christian—menswear catalog UK—handles it:

7. Coupon Codes and Promotional Offers
(DH Solution: These things drive me nuts. Remember Jay Leno’s six-word business model: “Write joke. Tell joke. Get check.” Remember the KISS formula: “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”)

8. Lack of Product Information
(DH Solution: No excuse for this. Your promotional copy should leave nothing to chance. For example, do you include size and weight? Check out the Bradford Exchange website or Parade magazone for the Thomas Kinkade Christmas Tchotchkes.. Exact heights of the tabletop Christmas trees and limited edition sculptures are always included.)

9. High Cost of Product
(DH Solution: Offer low monthly interest-free payments. Make it easy on the wallet.)

10. Want to Look Around
(DH Solution
: Alas, your prospect feels a twinge of insecurity and discomfort. It’s usually not smart to mention the competition by name. If a multi-buyer, the customer knows you and trusts you. My suggestion: in one hour, send a low key, warm reminder that you are holding the shopping cart intact. Maybe say something like:
"If I don't hear back from you by tomorrow this time, I'll assume I can release your merchandise. Meanwhile if you have any questions, I'm Candice Smith at your service. Ask for me. Thank you.")
Sitepoint: 10 Reasons for Abandoned Shopping Carts

Amazon: The World’s 5th Largest Corporation
With a Market Cap of $1.679 Trillion Dollars!

Imagine  where Amazon be today if it lost 88.05% of all its orders?

Deader than Kelsey’s nuts!


Do business with Amazon and you’re in a system of easy peasy ordering... dazzling delivery (damn near instant gratification)... and magical customer communications on the status of your order.  


And let’s not forget how easy it is to return merchandise to Amazon versus schlepping down to a retailer with merchandise under your arm and spending time explaining the problem to an irritated clerk.


The Single Thing That Catapulted Amazon
Into the Stratosphere: One-click Ordering!

“September 12, 2017, marked the end of an era as the patent expired for Amazon’s “1-Click” button for ordering. The idea that consumers could enter in their billing, shipping and payment information just once and then simply click a button to buy something going forward was unheard of when Amazon secured the patent in 1999, and it represented a breakthrough for the idea of hassle-free online shopping.”
Why Amazon’s ‘1-Click” Orderig Was a Game Changer”

Wharton/University of Pennsylvania


As chronicler of direct marketing, I was riveted by the announcement awarding Patent No. 5,960,411 to on September 28, 1999. Amazon immediatey filed a patent infringement lawsuit against the mega Barnes & Noble bookstore chain, effectively knocking its holiday promotion plans for that year’s holiday season into a cocked hat; B&N came within a whisker of going out of business.


Takeaways to Consider

• “Make it easy to order.” —Elsworth Howell


• If you want to satisfy repeat customers, offer 1-Click ordering. It's a subtle compliment that says: "Thank you. It's nice have you with me."


• Always include testimonials from happy customers. These are the equivalent of an enthusiastic extra sales person working for you."


• Always include a Guarantee of satisfaction and delight signed by the president of the company. For example, here is the greatest guarantee in the history of direct marketing. In 2020, L.L. Bean had gross sales of $1.59 billion. Go thou and do likewise!



Above all, study Amazon and STEAL SMART. Dive into the weeds of their fulfillment. Order from Amazon. See how they fulfill. Especially check out Amazon's emails updating when you can expect delivery.


One Example: take toilet paper. For years I have had a pathological fear of running out of toilet paper—not only for ourselves but also for houseguests.  I now can go to Amazon and click on the following:


I click on the above, type in “toilet paper.” Here’s what comes up for a one-click order that enables me to spend half a minute satisfying my psychotic insecurity:



• Amazin’ Amazon!


• I love it!





Word count: 1837

You Are Invited to Meet Denny Hatch and
See His
26-minute Geezer-Fast Yoga Routine

At age 15, Denny Hatch—as a lowly apprentice—wrote his first news release for a Connecticut summer theater. To his astonishment it ran verbatim in The Middletown Press. He was instantly hooked on writing. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army (1958-60), Denny had nine jobs in his first 12 years in business. He was fired from five of them and went on to save two businesses and start three others. One of his businesses—WHO’S MAILING WHAT! newsletter and archive service founded in 1984—revolutionized the science of how to measure the success of competitors’ direct mail. In the past 55 years he has been a book club director, magazine publisher, advertising copywriter/designer, editor, journalist and marketing consultant. He is the author of four published novels and seven books on business and marketing.


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  1. Denny - I re-discovered a phrase from a very smart marketer - Dean Jackson, and because of Dean, I frequently ask business owners this question:

    When's the last time you had a "Dream Come True Experience?" Most people actually stop and begin thinking back. Some can't even recall!

    There are opportunities every single day of our lives to give our prospects and buyers those "Dream Come True Experiences!" Congratulations to you and Peggy for experiencing one yourselves!!

    1. Will,
      Great hearing from you—as always.
      And thank you for your kind words.
      Do keep in touch.

  2. Really good information. Very sensible. It always surprises me that you have to remind people how a business should be run.

    Big congratulation on losing weight and getting healthy.

    What are Kelsey's Nuts?

    1. Kelsey’s nuts
      Q From Shane: Where does the expression deader than Kelsey’s nuts come from and what does it mean?
      A I’m told it’s an expression that former US President Richard Nixon was rather fond of using. Like other Americans before and since, he meant by it that something was unquestionably and permanently defunct. You might hear somebody say “The battery’s deader than Kelsey’s nuts”, or “His chances of surviving the election are deader than Kelsey’s nuts”.
      That takes care of the meaning, but who or what was Kelsey and what was so special about those nuts? He turns out to have been a real person, John Kelsey, one of the pioneers of car manufacture in the USA. With the encouragement of Henry Ford, he set up the Kelsey Wheel Company in 1910. By 1913 this was based in Windsor, Ontario, just across the river from Detroit. To start with, he manufactured the wooden wheels that were then state of the art, but later moved into making wire-spoke wheels and later steel wheels. As Kelsey-Hayes Canada Ltd, the company still exists.
      The saying refers to the proverbially secure attachment provided by the nuts and bolts on the wheels that Kelsey’s company made. In the view of the public, nothing could be fixed more tightly. And the obvious anatomical innuendoes in those nuts made the saying just a little naughty. Though some examples are recorded from the 1930s, the phrase began to become more widely known in the 1950s. Early on, it appeared as “tighter than Kelsey’s nuts” to mean a person who was stingy or mean, and is also recorded in the form “as safe as Kelsey’s nuts”, meaning very safe.
      By the early 1960s, it had evolved away from these fairly obvious formations to the imaginative and metaphorical phrase still used today. It would appear to have been a close parallel to — perhaps borrowed from — the much older as dead as a doornail.

  3. Great piece as always Denny.

    You remind us of what makes for a great customer experience - the removal of friction and the re-assurance of certainty.

    An ounce of friction and we’re off.

    Any uncertainty and you’ll see the soles of our shoes.

    But in the absence of either, we will return time and time again - and even pay a little more each time.

    Well done

    1. Hey Doug,

      A belated thank you for your kind words about my BOYDS post.

      I was a lot of fun to write. I love being able to knit-‘n’-purl a lot of loose strings together and have a thing come out neat and tidy.

      Do keep in touch.


  4. What a wonderful column. I grew up in Philly and worked at the Arrow Store (named after the shirts) during high school and college, Boyd's then one block over on Market Street. So good to see them survive and in elegant quarters on Chestnut Street. Old time quality and service can still succeed. Applying human standards to the direct marketing business secures customer relationships.

    1. Hey, Jeffrey,
      Many thanks for your kind words.
      Arrow shirts? Wow.
      I looked up “ARROW STORE PHILLY” and here’s what came up.
      - - - - - -
      Moon + Arrow
      4.7(48) · Boutique
      742 S 4th St · (215) 469-1448
      Closed ⋅ Opens 11AM
      In-store shopping·Curbside pickup
      - - - - - - - - -
      Arrow Motors Inc
      4.4(191) · Used car dealer
      2225 Wakeling St · (215) 289-2000
      Opens soon ⋅ 9:30AM
      In-store shopping
      - - - - - - -
      No reviews · Clothing store
      (215) 954-1160
      Closed ⋅ Opens 10AM
      - - - - - - - - -
      Anyway, many thanks for the peek into your past.

      Do keep in touch.


    Good afternoon Denny.
    You have my permission to reprint my letter...
    I should also have mentioned that, often, entire merchant websites are in type too small to read easily. I am reminded of a story by a famous copywriter (at my age I can’t remember which). As a cub, he wrote an ad for a railroad business magazine. The ad was to get leads for the sale of locomotives. He took it to his boss, who praised it but told him to increase the body copy type size 2 points. “Why?” asked our cub. Boss: “Because when a man has the authority to buy a locomotive, he has usually reached the age at which he has to use glasses.”

    And for laughs, I recently received a “farming letter” from someone inquiring about buying real estate I own directly. My name and address, which showed through the window, were correct. The property address, parcel number, and description were correct. The offer was described accurately. And the salutation? Not “Dear Mr. Amkraut” or the like. Rather,
    “To whom it may concern.”

    Don’t worry about the delay in getting back to me. Direct marketing is built on the bedrock of human nature, which doesn’t change from week to week.
    Tue, Oct 5 at 4:05 PM
    Great column, Denny. The principles of direct marketing have been known for a long time and should be applied to online marketing--- obviously with adjustments required by the technology. But so many merchants are clueless. Many sites, in organization, lack of product info and poor ordering pages, seem like they’ve been done by 20-year-old engineers, with little consideration for the customer and no background at all in direct marketing. Among the things that drive me crazy:

    Clothes: incomplete information. Fabric? (Many people insist on cotton. I have found non-cotton Hawaiian shirts clammy.) Washable or needs special care?

    Numbers--- microscopic and leaving out commas, so they are hard to read.

    Minimal descriptions, e.g. of books. To me, there’s no excuse for lack of table of contents, no chance to look inside. That’s showing, or sampling, not just telling.

    Trying to force the customer to use PayPal. For various reasons, I despise PayPal.

    Not guiding you through ordering, step by numbered step.

    When products arrive, including from Amazon, why is there no thank you letter or anything else? My friends Caples, Sackheim, Collier, et al would consider such omissions to be churlish.

    People responsible for such things have never read the classics. If you asked them who Lasker and Hopkins are, they’d think it’s a law firm or British rock band.

    However, in general I agree with you that Amazon’s system is extraordinary. Years ago, I tried to order a few books from Barnes and Noble and it was a headache. I was forced to go back to Amazon. I also ordered books through a website that amalgamated the inventories of many used book stores, and that was a mess too. I don’t know if it is still in existence.

    On an unrelated note, when I think of how to sell, I remember an incident from when I was very young. My parents had three small and very active boys. They were buying plates, bowls, etc. and my mother asked the salesman something like, “Can these break? Do they hold up?” The salesman took a bowl and threw it down at the hard linoleum floor as hard as he could. It made a bang and skittered off down the aisle. But nothing broke or cracked. That’s salesmanship and selling a benefit!

    One of these days, ask me about the Mercedes-Benz salesman and the way he demonstrated product features and benefits when I was car shopping. ..

    On another unrelated note, I now have a side business doing Covid testing, have done some interesting marketing things and am working on others.

    Your faithful reader

    1. A belated thank-you, thank-you for your long and thoughtful email about my BOYDS shopping experience and what it can mean to digital marketers.

      Upcoming (when I get to the damn thing) will be a post about how I ordered a product online and I was immediately blitzed with offers of hundreds of products from this company even before my initial order was delivered.

      (Hint what happened: I researched the company and discovered the dumb son-of-a-bitch—about whom I had written very favorably before—had been sold off to a hotshot VC outfit. I am no fan of VCs.)

      Like you, I have no idea what PayPal is or does or why I should use it vs. my trusty credit cards.

      Anyway, thank you, thank you. Hope you’ll okay my running your letter in the comment section.

      Do keep in touch.


  6. Chet Dalzell gave the okay to run his email letter to me.
    Tue, Oct 5 at 10:22 AM
    Denny, that was a great piece! I felt like I was shopping for a suit with you and Peggy!

    I also think eMarketers and DTC brands can use "abandoned carts" and other performance triggers to reactivate prospective buyers more intelligently. (One of my clients, Cordial, just did a cross-channel marketing study" that points to 16 "trigger" opportunities that raise revenue per thousand 6-7 times over regular promotional email/text marketing.)

    The last year DMA did the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame (maybe 2015), I had nominated Jeff Bezos, long overdue. His one-click ordering patent alone earned him the title. Of course the fact that he championed online marketing as "direct marketing on steroids" even before that patent was more than enough by 1999.

    Best to you and Peggy, Chet