By Dan Jablons, Retail Smart Guys
If you are reading this, you are probably a good retailer. Your business is mostly healthy, you pay your bills and you have a good, loyal customer base. That alone is a pretty great achievement these days, so congratulations on that.
The world of retail is changing today. Much has already been written about online competition, vendors selling directly to consumers and omnichannel. While important considerations, they can become distractions from the core of the retail business, which is having the right inventory.
I observe how lots of retailers operate and the outcomes of those operations. I see all the various things that people try, and I carefully observe what happens. Based on that experience, here are six best practices of great retailers.
- They recognize that their inventory is everything. It really doesn’t matter how great your marketing is if, when the customers arrive, the retailers don’t have what the customers want to buy. Having a solid merchandise plan is the single most important ingredient in successful retail. Yes, some will argue that location is most important, but if you have the greatest location with the wrong inventory, you will not succeed.
- They do tons of in-store events. I know. Most retailers don’t love doing that and tell me how much work it is. But in this day and age, the shoppers want to be entertained, and great store events are an excellent way to keep them engaged and coming back.
- They understand the importance of clienteling. That means that they know their customers, establish personal relationships with them and stay in close contact with them.
- They establish solid partnerships with their vendors. Great retailers tell their vendors the good, the bad and the ugly. They tell them when goods are performing well and when they aren’t performing well. They work with their vendors to keep their stores fresh, viable and fun to shop.
- They participate in employee development. This means that the retailers teach the employees how to sell and how to evaluate the business and constantly give the employees new challenges.
- They utilize their merchandise plan to drive cash and profit. I cannot emphasize this one enough. Proper planning means great cash flow, great sales, lower markdowns, lower inventory investment and ultimately better profits.