So, here’s the big question: Are you an official Retail Tweaker? Just how good are you at tweaking your store? Do you constantly review what’s going on while looking for new ideas, or are you content to make subtle changes and hope shoppers will notice? Guess what? They won’t. Here are some things you need to make a part of your operational activities:
Visit your competition every six weeks. More often if they are known for making changes. Cruise their parking lots and stop in their stores. Watch how customers shop, and what they say to store associates and other shoppers. Visit their websites. Google their names to see what’s being said about them, and sign-up for every single thing they offer to customers. Have the snail mail delivered to a post office box. Yahoo and Google will give you a free e-mail address – choose one the competition will not recognize as yours. This stealthy move will give you a heads up on their plans before the ads hit the street. And don’t worry about what competitors will think about you visiting their stores! If they’re smart, they’ve been in yours.
Look at your store through your customers’ eyes. Because you come to work each day with a list of things to do as long as your forearm, it’s easy to get tunnel vision. When you have tunnel vision you walk through the store with blinders on – it’s time to take them off!
After a day out of the store, grab a pen and paper, and stand just inside your front door. Write down everything that would bug you if you were a customer. Be very objective. Nitpick. Then ask a customer – yes, a customer! – to do the same exercise. You will likely fill a page or two, but the customer will fill three or four. Prioritize the things on the list and get busy fixing what needs fixing. Trust us, customers will notice!View your merchandise with an objective eye. You may love a certain line or department but the product just isn’t selling. No matter how much you love it, if it doesn’t sell, it’s got to go. You have to make room for product that will pull its weight.
If your sales floor has looked pretty much the same for more than 30 days you have work to do. Move product around, set new speed bumps, refresh your displays, do demos and makit & takits, and build foot traffic with an in-store event. If that product still doesn’t move, then hold an “End of Season Clearance” and price those goods to sell. Then you’ll be able to reinvest those dollars on merchandise that does.
After you've done each of the above things, do this exercise:
1. Draw three columns on a sheet of paper: use the left column to list marketing ideas you’ve seen competitors (and other non-competing businesses) use that could be tweaked to work in your store, too. In the center column list ways you can spin each idea to make it different, unique and memorable.
2. Stick this piece of paper in a handy spot, but don’t look at it again until the next day. You have to give your ideas time to simmer.
3. The next day, review the ideas listed in the center column, then use the space in the right column to expand your original ideas. Make them bigger! Make them better! Make them so unique to your store that they will be tough for competitors’ to copy.
4. Have your team to do the same exercise. Tell them that’s it’s okay to go a little crazy with their ideas, because no idea is a bad idea. We’re certain they will surprise you with things you’ve never even dreamed of!
Your store is a constantly changing and evolving entity that needs your care and attention to thrive. Starting now, vow to work ON your store, not just IN it. Take a risk! Sure, it’s safer to buy commodity brands and top selling lines – you need them but you also need to be unique. If you’re not uniquely different then you become just another store selling “stuff”.
Starting now choose to be different! Take another route. And if it doesn’t work, get rid if it and start again. Change, after all, is the lifeblood of your store.
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