Thanks to the PBS Masterpiece series Mr. Selfridge, viewers on both sides of the pond have been introduced to the world of retail marketing and merchandising innovator Harry Selfridge.
In 1909, Harry Gordon Selfridge launched his eponymous London department store Selfridges, which today is an iconic landmark. The store revolutionized the shopping experience for British consumers, and observers credit it for helping to propel major societal changes in pre-World War II Britain.
The current Selfridges store pays homage to its namesake founder:
“Harry Selfridge was the first in the UK to allow customers to touch and interact directly with the store’s products and the first to sell a broad mix of inexpensive and extremely luxurious items under one roof. Effectively, he wanted for every customer to feel welcome at his store. He was also the only one to relentlessly use his store as a theatre, an exhibition space and a playground to delight customers with unexpected experiences. Retail theatre was born.”
While the TV series is outstanding, I’ve especially enjoyed learning about the business philosophy that underpinned how Selfridge operated the store. More than 100 years later, his breakthrough thinking remains spot-on and valuable to today’s marketing and business practitioners.
In 1918, Selfridge published The Romance of Commerce, in which he articulated his philosophy and explained his business ideas.
Last year, Adams Media released an abridged and updated version, from which I’ve selected and organized some of his timeless marketing and business ideas.
Take a few mid-summer reading minutes and soak-in the timeless wisdom of Harry Selfridge.
- This ability, therefore, to organize, to breathe into others that fire of enthusiasm, that quality of judgment, that spirit of progress, has long been considered by thinking men of commerce as the final and greatest of all qualities, the test of supreme commercial genius.