As I sit and scan the retail horizon ahead, it’s hard not to get caught up in the economic doom and gloom the mainstream news seems hell bent on proliferating. Yes, we are in uncertain economic times. Yes, we have to be ready for anything. Government policies, global events, business cycles, and even consumer behavior are erratic as all get out, and it seems a lot of people feel like it’s time batten the hatches. Don’t buy into it!
From our purview, life today requires that we prepare for the unexpected, and that includes economic ebbs and flows. Temporary downturn or total recession, we simply can’t control the economic climate. What we CAN control, however, is our response to it. We saw this play out during COVID, as many brands went belly up while others got scrappy and strategic and emerged ahead.
No matter what’s happening in the news, you can outsmart any financial fiasco and thrive (versus just survive) by embracing these three key things.
- Make the most of what you CAN you control
In the fast-paced world of retail, time is of the essence. Rather than waiting for a miracle to show up, you can capitalize on the tools, inventory, and resources you have on hand right now. Not next month, not next season–but NOW. It’s all about buckling in and getting more efficient.
The faster you can move your merchandise, the better for your bottom line. We all know that timing and turnover matter a lot. If you can turn what’s on the floor faster–even narrowing your merchandising by an extra half a turn per year–you can enhance your profitability by as much as 5 – 10%!
This is even more important during a downturn. When customers get more cautious with their spending, it becomes essential to liven up your offerings to match their immediate needs. Even minor tweaks in merchandising strategies can move the needle, so analyze your sales data and customer preferences to identify trends and prioritize products with the highest demand. Also, leverage promotions and incentives to attract new people in and create some new buying occasions.
By focusing on what is within your reach, you can clear out outdated inventory, free up the real estate in your store, and get new stuff (with better movement and margins) featured front and center to keep the cash coming in.
Great, Sean, but what does any of this have to do with technology? You can’t do any of the above without the right technology in place to tell you your current situation. You have to have the right tools!
- Get The Tools to Take You Further
I know you have a Point of Sale (POS) system, but the real question is, are you utilizing it to its full potential?
A rocking POS solution, coupled with a solid inventory control system, can provide invaluable data insights and arm you with the ammo you need to power up profits. Knowing what’s selling and what’s not, understanding customer preferences, and managing inventory flow can for sure guide better decision making, but you’re leaving money on the table by not weaving adjacent technologies like door counting, loyalty programs, and smart marketing into the mix.
By integrating synergistic retail technologies, you get a more comprehensive understanding of your customers and preferences so that you can steer their buying behaviors to your advantage. Loyalty programs, for instance, spark more repeat visits and foster a deeper connection with your store brand. Effective marketing strategies targeted at specific customer segments can drive foot traffic and boost sales. The insights gleaned empower you to offer personalized experiences, creating a more loyal customer base, even during the most difficult times.
Clienteling, especially, can be a game-changer. Engaging with customers, providing personalized recommendations, and keeping them informed about new products and events can lead to skyrocketing sales and loyalty numbers–but are you doing it?
Tied to my first point in this POV, the data has proven that those that commit to clienteling see an average of 2.5 times more sales per clienteling customer than they do with regular customers. When it’s utilized, customers come in more, buy more and stay more loyal.
The thing about all of these tools is that they are individually great, but when working together, they operate like a force multiplier. Each one has significant value but, together, they can have an exponential effect on your retail business. Read that again!
- Rededicate to the ‘rudimentary of retail’
There is no denying that managing a retail business sometimes ain’t pretty. It can be tedious, time consuming and involve some tasks NO One wants to do. However, the devil truly is in the details, and diligent dedication to retail processes is key.
It’s a lot like having gym membership. You have all that you need to get fit, but you need support it with good personal habits, lean in and be diligent. You have to stay centered, focused and respect that everything that you do gets you closer towards your goals. Good daily habits may not yield immediate gratification, but over time, the results become evident!
So, with this said, are you digging in and managing your store data? Watching and documenting inventory flow? Do you know what you need to do to get the best information to manage your store well? Like, REALLY well? It can be a grind, but it’s 100% necessary.
Here’s another way to look at this. Tech vendors and ‘experts’ are always talking about ‘mapping out a plan’. Sure, this helps you set your sights on the final destination. However, great technology integrated together seamlessly acts more like a GPS. It can guide you all the way there, helping you navigate the twists, turns and the unexpected roadblocks while keeping you squarely on the best possible course.
In summary, screw recessions!
The key to outsmarting any downturn is to focus on what you can control and seize the opportunities lying within your grasp. By making the most of your existing resources, leveraging the power of retail technology, and rededicating yourself to good retail fitness, you can steer your business out of any financial storm and emerge stronger on the other side–often with the tools you already have and no additional investment. So, what are you waiting for?