Anyone following the news or in a retail store knows retail forecasts for the year are down; way down.
Target, Macy’s, Nordstrom and JCPenney are just some examples of big retailers losing out to Amazon and the internet. Walmart too is being squeezed by Amazon as Walmart squeezes smaller retailers.
What about small retailers who own shops? You smaller retailers have been beaten up by the big guys for 10 years now (or more). I started this blog by mentioning the big guys are losing market share daily to the internet sellers.
What can the smaller business owner in retail do?
First and foremost, there are no silver bullets! But there are many small things you can do to capture more than your “fair share” of your market!
One of the most important thing you must do is “make your customers feel good about coming into your store”. People have many shopping options. They return to where it feels good and bring their friends. Train your staff in good customer relationship techniques and demand they use them. Use secret shoppers to share their experience.
Retail was never an easy business. Here are some basic tips all retailers should know:
1- move your merchandise around! Your store has to look like your goods are always flying out the door. If goods aren’t moving, move them around in the store. Reposition your inventory EVERY WEEK. Customers considering your product need to think if they don’t buy it soon it may run out.
2 – mind your inventory purchasing – many retail establishments have a very short lead time from suppliers. If your suppliers can delivery in a few days or less, order less. It is good to sometimes to run out of product! Running out of some merchandise means you are ordering the right items for your store customers.
3 -get rid of what doesn’t sell! Last week I wrote about inventory turns so I don’t have to cover that here. But what about dead stock? Items that don’t sell in a year are probably worthless. Items that don’t sell in season of a seasonal business (like winter clothes in May) are worthless. Make a ‘sale bin’ and get rid of unwanted merchandise. Customers like to find a sale, so a sale bin can attract business. Retailers need the most space they can muster from their rented (or owned) premises. Removing things that will never sell opens up room.
4- get on the internet! The internet has changed the way we do business. We can shop, cross shop and check values anywhere at any time. Get your merchandise on line, with nice pictures, descriptions and presentation. People have a tendency to check into things by googling you, your business and your merchandise. Make sure your online representation is good, accurate and correct. I have several wholesaler’s and retailer’s selling on line. Sales in the beginning start slow (until your website catches on). Yet these are still increases in sales, most often prepaid and a golden opportunity with no extra rent expense.
5- learn to purchase in quantity at a discount! This concept is quite different from not buying too much. This is buying a lot but at a deep discount from your vendors. Let’s say you are opening or just opened a new store. The best way to drive new customers into your business is to sell something at an obviously great price. It doesn’t matter if it’s Johnnie Walker Blue, women’s yoga pants, gold earrings or a cold glass of beer. If you sell a lot of it, you should be able to purchase at a better discount.
So make a deal with your vendors. Normally I buy 100 units; how much if I buy 1,000 units or 3,000 units or 10,000 units? If you can get a deep enough change in cost, you can sell below all your competition and attract business and traffic to your store.
All the best. Harlan
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