Retail secrets

Retailers have their own secret recipes for success in their pockets. So what are the secret mantras. Let us find out.

I have just completed a survey of 16 retailers and benchmarked their performance to find an association. Amongst 16 retailers, a group were performing exceptionally well, whilst others were performing less effectively. All the retailers were in the same economic climate, in the same industry, and in the same country. So what made the difference? Some of the retailers knew the secrets of success while others were still searching for that magic formula.

So, what are those secrets that, some retailers have discovered, and others are yet to discover?

What were the ten secrets, the top performers implemented? 

1. They knew their figures
When I asked the top performers of the average sale per customer, sales per square metre, sales per employee and stock turn, they could tell me straight away. Others told me they would have to talk to their accountant and get back to me.

These figures should be in every manager’s head. If they do not know these figures how do they manage the store? Knowing the basic performance indicators is essential for business growth. 

2. They walked the store every morning
The winners are aware that retail is detail and that they have to maintain a high standard of professionalism in the eyes of the customers. The secret the winners had discovered is that, they need to walk the store every morning with a checklist, and to write down what action needed to take place before the store opened. 

3. Mystery shoppers were employed 
Everyone provides great customer service, so I am told when I conduct workshops. But, the customer does not agree with us. The top guys realise this and that they need an independent assessment of the store, at least every three months. They employ a professional mystery shopper to check if they are as good as they say they are.

4. Product training is part of the culture
The businesses that I studied, stocked in the region of 25,000 S.K.U’s. That is a lot of different items. Therefore, product training was an essential part of the business culture in winning businesses. I came across one retailer who told me that he did twenty minutes training a year. That means that he would have to cover 1,200 items a minute in his training sessions, perhaps I am a slow learner.

5. Sales training is essential
Sales training is different to product knowledge training. Product knowledge training is providing the technical information required to sell a product. Sales training is about how to engage the customer in a positive way. Sales people generally do not come naturally, they need training and the skills need revising regularly. Something the winners have discovered. As a result they tend to have a higher average sale that the others. 

6. They are up to date with what is happening in the world
As I write this article, it is Chinese New Year, and the Winter Olympics are being held. In my local shops there is only one retailer who is celebrating one of these festivals. Good Luck Cookies are being handed out to every customer and the customers are loving it. The winners know that they need to be aware of global events and support the ones relevant to them and their customers.

7. Displays are changed frequently
The secret is making the customer go WOW. That is achieved by changing the displays on a regular basis. In my survey, I visited the businesses six months apart. Some of the businesses had the same power displays on both occasions. The winners were changing theirs at least every month. 

8. What to do now?
The winners would be waiting for me with a piece of paper in hand ready to take notes. Some retailers took no notes and assured me they would remember what I had said. Winners are always hungry for ideas and are ready to listen and create an instant action plan.

9. Involve the team in discussions 
The winners are not doing it on their own, they have a team who are part of the decision making process. They are involved from the start in a process of change and their opinions are respected. Winners are in winning teams, they are not doing it on their own. 

10. They are doing it
Finally, winners are never satisfied, they are constantly changing. They know they cannot afford to be complacent. 

Yes, the economy, the weather and other factors outside your control can affect business performance, but whatever is happening in the outside world, the winners are still at the top of the pile and making positive changes to their businesses.  

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