sales | May 15, 2013

Cheap Comes At A Cost: Charles Fishman Talks Discount Retail on NPR

Is our quest for bargain clothing prices trumping the ability for factory workers to earn a living wage in a safe workplace? Charles Fishman, retail speaker and author of The Wal-Mart Effect, thinks so. As he explains in a new interview with NPR Baltimore, cheap clothing for us in North America often comes at a high cost for those manufacturing it elsewhere in the world. "The working conditions are in the price," Fishman explained in an interview with Lavin. If something seems unbelievably cheap, that's probably because corners were cut somewhere to give you that steal of a deal on a new t-shirt.

With the international spotlight focused on factories in Bangladesh and other places in the world, poor working conditions have become a major topic of discussion in the retail sector, across industries and governments, and among consumers. In the NPR segment, Fishman draws on his extensive research on discount retailer Wal-Mart to explore ways corporations can provide just concessions for workers. And, how they can do so without unfairly gouging customers. Responsible retail practices may mean that prices will rise—but it doesn't mean they have to increase astronomically. "There's real room now for a clothing retailer to come along like Whole Foods has in food—to say, here is clothing that is great quality, that is made by people in a civilized way, in civilized conditions," Fishman tells us. "The price tag is a little higher—but the clothes will last you a long time. So, in fact, they are better value—cheaper in the long run."

In his customizable retail keynotes, Fishman delivers a fascinating exploration of what it takes to do business in the global economy. Supported by vivid personal anecdotes and hard-hitting case studies, his talks offer a fascinating and applicable look into the retail world. It is possible to provide a fair price to consumers without sacrificing profit or quality of life for employees, Fishman argues. And, he shows why companies like Wal-Mart are winning while others are failing in economic hard times. You may not be able to beat the discount giant in price point, but you can implement some of their other innovative strategies to pull-out big wins for your organization.