We may sell different products, but our challenges and strategies are the same.
In all of our travels, and at all of the conventions where we speak, one thing's for sure: each retail segment, whether it's apparel, furniture, crafts, gifts, art supplies, ceramic, hardware, whatever, retailers insistent upon keeping their identities. That's a good thing. We would never ask, or even suggest, that a retail store lose its industry-specific identity. However, we do stress that every retailer has a lot more in common with retailers from other industries than they do that's different.
Retailers from every industry have a lot on their plates, including customers who demand their undivided attention, and expect new and wonderful product and applications, each and every day; daily store operations; advertising and marketing responsibilities; never-ending employee issues; plus the desire to lead a balanced family life. And if they're open, they can help one another.
Why re-invent the wheel when you can share ideas with someone who has walked in your shoes?
There's a danger in thinking that a technique used by another industry will not work for you. You're savvy enough to be able to take any idea, from any industry, tweak it, and make it work in your own store. Right now, all of the best ideas in customer care are coming from the hospitality industry. Does that mean retailers should ignore what's happening in restaurants and hotels? Of course not.
Good retailers catalog the unique customer comforts they enjoy in all kinds of businesses – and what they find ends up in some way, shape or form, in their own stores.
For several of years we spoke at a trade show that required us to only share stories about that particular industry. It was far too limiting for us and for the retailers in attendance. The stores grew stagnant because they never looked farther than their own front doors.
When we need to recharge our creativity and find new ideas, we go to Las Vegas. That's why we frequently host Las Vegas retail store tours. Trust us: Vegas retail and Vegas casinos leave no creative stone unturned. So we take a bus full of retailers to various Vegas sites, including Mandalay Place, the shopping mall that's actually the sky bridge connecting Mandalay Bay and Luxor casinos. Here the stores are chosen specifically for their "Shoppertainment" value. Another favorite stop is The Forum Shops at Caesars, said to be the highest retail-dollars-per-square-foot in the world. The Forum Shops may have a Gap, but it ain't your average mall!
Our retail tourists may not see shops even remotely like their own, but they return home with lots of ideas they can implement in their own stores. The same time-honored store design and visual merchandising techniques used in your store also work in apparel and appliance and gift and (fill in the blank) stores.
We hope that you are willing to take your industry-specific blinders off and keep your eyes open for new ideas, wherever those ideas come from. We tell every one of our seminar attendees to call us anytime they want to brainstorm new ideas for their stores. You can, too. We mean it; all you have to do is call. Here's the number: 888.215.1839.