Retailing – Where is it Going?
Brick and Mortar, on-premise, or physical retail – choose your description. They all have the same challenges – trying to figure out where retailing is going, how fast and when.
Whether you sell books and journals, clothing, or household goods – trying to plan is the most difficult part of your business. And 2021 is more unknown than 2020 because we don’t know when things will improve – or if they will.
Retailing in a Pandemic.
An international firm did a survey in 4 countries - the U.S., UK, France, and China – to better understand current shopping sentiment. The consensus was the further along in the recovery mode, the more likely consumers are to visit on-premise stores, with mall shoppers the least sure of their environment, and fearful of catching the virus while shopping.
Mask mandates by the big-box stores is making the digest difference in mask wearing behavior. Even at the state-owned liquor stores, a clerk invited a consumer to leave because he had no mask. He apologized and went to get his But it’s hard for small businesses to be the mask police nor afford to have a temperature checker at the door – machine or paid staff.
And comments from many of those surveyed felt the shopping experience was “weird” and they would become “mission shoppers” to feel comfortable. A mission shopper is one who goes into a store for a specific item. Gets it, pays for it, and leaves and does not engage in impulse buying.
How Do We Survive and Grow in this Environment?
Planning and using our plan based on our core merchandise and core values is the key. You do have one, don’t you? If not, you need to create a list of those items and start thinking about your marketing message based on your list.
First, we must become “safety advocates” for our customers. We need to educate our customers of what we’re doing to keep them safe while in our stores. And we need to do it in a way that creates a partnership with those that are anti-masks.
We must create small moments of joy. Scott Moore from Mood Media said it best “ . . . In our efforts to sterilize floors and surfaces . . . let’s be careful that the shopping experience itself doesn’t become sterile . . .”
Finding our Retailing Core.
Then we need to refocus, review, and revise our business plan to focus on our core mission, merchandise, and values.
It’s not unusual, in our efforts to grow our businesses, to bring in auxiliary merchandise that supports our core mission. Now is the time to review the sales volumes for those auxiliary items. You have that information in your business journal, I hope. Merchandise inventory management is critical for small businesses, get yours on paper now.
Do the same for all your core merchandise and make a list of your top sellers. You may think you know which items are your best sellers, but you’ll be surprised by the actual numbers. My husband always thought one of his Myrtlewood treasures were the biggest sellers, but he was always surprised by the actual inventory/sales numbers we reviewed quarterly. It kept him from making too much inventory in one area and not enough in another.
Excel spreadsheets work great for inventory tracking. Open office, a free program, has pretty much the same capabilities as Excel. Whatever you use, even column pad papers and pencil, decide what are your core items and make them front and center this coming year.
Part 1 – Retail Management Series
This is part one of a series on retailing. The next edition will be focused on the holidays and how to maneuver the season and come out ahead.
Until next time - - -