by Ellen Fruchtman, President at Fruchtman Marketing
There’s an old saying, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” But, in today’s retail climate, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it can make the difference between surviving or thriving.
Information is king. And, if you really want to secure information that can change the course of your business, then consider these options. Some may seem very basic. The truth is, getting back to basics should be a mantra for 2020. Successful retailing is nothing more than knowing who your customer is; making sure you have the right product for them; ensuring they have an exemplary experience, and making sure they tell their friends and come back again! Sounds simple…no? None of that will happen, of course, if you don’t know:
How to manage your inventory. With tightened lending practices, knowing what inventory sells (and does not sell), couldn’t be more important. There are many POS systems that offer this option. If that’s the case, make sure you understand the data. And, more importantly, act on the data. There are also stand-alone options that don’t require a POS investment if you currently have a system you like, for example, MAPS (Merchandise Analysis and Planning System).
Your tracking and closing ratios. If information is king, then not knowing how many people are walking in your door, what these people are looking for, what they purchased (or heaven forbid, not purchased), who is closing the sale (or not) is simply too important for you to not have a handle on. It provides a key insight into what might or might not be working in your marketing, to who are your best-performing salespeople. It’s also a learning tool with your sales staff.
What you’re doing right. Or wrong. Perhaps it’s time to not worry about what the competitor is doing up the street and worry more about what you’re not doing right. If you’re not on the floor (or on the floor a large part of the day), then how do you know what’s transpiring from your sales staff to the customer? A great secret-shopping program will provide insight into how a customer feels from the moment they walk in the door, to the actual sales process, to what follow up is being conducted.
Haven’t received valuable insight. When a good customer is there to purchase, take a moment of their time to discuss and share your business with them. Ask them candidly how you are doing. What areas they would love to see improved; products they may want to see more of. Make them feel that their opinion is valuable. Because it is! And, if you feel they may not be as honest right there in your store, ask to meet them for a cup of coffee and chat.
Haven’t dissected your promotional activity. Everything you do should have some level of ROI. Granted, it is very difficult to measure traditional marketing methods. In the digital world, you get to see clicks and traffic, etc. But, none of it means a hill of beans if traffic is not increasing and sales are not increasing. Yes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. So you need to give things time. Several years? No. If you’re spending $50,000 on a gorgeous catalog, you better have an idea if that’s needed to drive traffic during the holiday season. After every event or trunk show, are you keeping a formal document of that event? What worked; didn’t work; what was spent; what you could do better. If you’ve done a designer trunk show year after year and it’s not netting the return, why are you still doing it?
What you don’t know will hurt you. So, make it a priority for 2020. And, in the meantime, have a tremendous holiday season.