Tough Times at Retail – What Can You Do?
Retailers in many parts of the world are entering their busiest, most hectic and usually most profitable time of year.
For those retailers these last few weeks of the year are the ones that can normally be counted on to bring home the profits.
Retailers take some comfort in that.
Not so comfortable this year.
Retailers are not sure, at all, that the next few weeks will yield the profit they can usually count on.
In fact, some worry that they will not even make the profits that they must have to carry on business as usual, never mind adding new stores, renovations, information systems upgrades, etc.
That has to be a very disturbing thought to owners, shareholders, employees and even to loyal customers.
So what can be done?
1) Think positively and align all actions with those thoughts and
2) Create the very best customer experience that you possibly can.
But can you do that in time to save the season? Absolutely!
Before we go any further, you must understand we are not suggesting that the power of positive thinking will fix whatever ails anybody or any company – we’re pretty sure it won’t.
But positive thoughts are much better than negative ones no matter how you slice it, and the positive ones should be with you all the time whether in good or bad economic times.
Positive thoughts help propel your business forward.
Perhaps you are the owner of your own retail store or chain of stores.
If you are, think back to your start up days.
Don’t you agree that your business could not have survived if you didn’t continuously think positively?
What could possibly be the benefit of not doing so?
How does anyone, or any company, reach for the stars without thinking positively?
Now, having positive thoughts does not mean you abandon all concerns and fail to take appropriate steps to protect yourself against possible downturns.
That’s just good, old fashioned common sense.
What it does mean, though, is that there is far too much doom and gloom out there already and we must not contribute to it.
In our organizations, we just put a stop to any and all negativity.
That, coupled with smart operational changes, will provide your arsenal to help you pull through in difficult times.
There is an old saying that works here. ‘It’s the gloom that comes before, not the doom at the door’ that creates a lot of the problems.
So, until you are on the verge of closing your doors, do not buy in to the gloom that comes before.
Act sensibly and responsibly, of course. But do not give in.
You have nothing to gain by allowing negative thoughts, or gloom, to interfere in your on going operations. Enough said about that.
On to the smart operational changes….
This is so doable you just have to get on board.
You must make sure that each and every customer experience, in your stores, is not only positive but exceptional.
That’s a tall order because most retail organizations think they already do that. Wrong!
The fact is the vast majority of retailers fail badly when it comes to the exceptional shopping experience.
Don’t take our word for it – talk to any customer and you will soon find out that it isn’t as exceptional as you thought.
Sadly, you may even find out that it is not even satisfactory.
We must take a moment to tell you we mean no disrespect to retail employees out there, all over the world, who provide exceptional shopping experiences for their customers.
Our hat is off to these amazing employees. And yours should be too.
They are in the minority and are often overlooked for the incredible contribution they are making to your organization.
So what can you do to make sure that your customer understands that shopping at your store is, by far, preferable to shopping at your competition?
Before we answer that we need to clear something up…
You are probably thinking that it is not your actual competition you are really worried about but, rather, it is competing for the customers’ disposable income that has got you worried right now.
Clearly you would have a good point there. We have no argument against it. However, you need to do those things that are within your control.
And right now what is in your control is being the very best you can be so that when the customer does decide to spend on certain merchandise or services, you are the retailer or service provider of choice – hands down, bar none, numero uno. OK, we know you get it.
Back to what you are going to do….you are going to defy Murphy’s Law in retail.
Here it is, step by step:
- Ensure you hire good people, compensate them fairly and train/coach them properly and regularly.
- Find out where your deficiencies are.
- By the way, there is a lot of free help at the DMSRetail.com pages, make sure every staff member memorizes the pearls of wisdom in those pages
- Address deficiencies immediately even if it means pulling resources from other areas.
- Make everyone in the organization truly accountable for what happens at store level and stay on top of what is happening at store level yourself.
- Be relentless when it comes to making sure everyone in your organization is supporting the stores so that every customer interaction CAN go right at store level.
- Increase your marketing and promotions as much as you can (most companies will do the opposite, this alone can give you the edge – there are a lot of low/no cost ideas at promotion ideas page of DMSRetail.com, there is also a free book on Powerful Marketing Ideas, if you have not got your copy, do it now.
These are simple, but powerful, steps.
Murphy’s Law states that when something can go wrong it will.
I suggest that this law be turned upside down.
My law states that when something CAN go right, it will.
The challenge, to you, is making sure everything CAN go right.
Of course, even though the concept is simple, it will take some hard work and expertise.
The steps mentioned above will have to suffice as this article is just that, an article.
It does not have to be all doom and gloom!