Five Habits of Successful Retailers

There’s a saying in retail that the “customer is always right”. While this motto is often relevant for retailers and other business owners alike, letting customers call all the shouts won’t make a retailer successful. And while every merchant is different and every store has it’s own demands and goals, the following habits are repeatedly observed among many successful retailers.

Habit One: Prioritizing is Key. 

Retailers are busy folks, with those not in the industry often misjudging just how much is on their to-do-lists. From ordering inventory to researching market trends to merchandising displays to training staff and planning in-store events to scheduling online marketing and more, running a retail business means constantly having something to do. With this in mind, successful retailers recognize the value in scheduling what is necessary to do and eliminating what is not. This also means recognizing that while some responsibilities are more enjoyable than others, all responsibilities must be prioritized to effectively run a successful retail business. Scheduling time limits and deadlines – even as your own boss – can help make retailers stay focused and on schedule, eliminating extra time spent where it shouldn’t be.

Habit Two: Letting Go Is a Must. 

With a lot on a retailer’s to-do-list, who has time to dwell on the past? Sure, it’s easy to fall into this habit when mistakes are made or opportunities are missed. But more importantly, it’s better to learn from these scenarios. Retailers are bound to make poor inventory investments or have a slow month; however successful retailers analyze these situations as opportunities to learn from versus beat themselves up over. It’s important for retailers to move forward since after all, their customers already have. One of the best ways to do this is lean on data, which successful merchants implement into their store operations through a variety ways. This often includes incorporating a point of sale (POS) system, using social media monitoring software and tracking customer loyalty. The more retailers know through hard data, the better they are in supporting their customers.

Habit Three: Training Staff is Vital.

Stores spend a lot of money to open their doors and keep them open, which is why it always surprises  me when a sales associate has no idea how to support the customers in their store. The people of any business are the faces of that brand… whether they want to accept that role or not. As employers, it’s key to understand this reality and train associates to best represent their stores. Retailers who successfully run their businesses recognize the value in their associates and not only train them, but train them often. New hire trainings are very important, but don’t stop there. Opportunities to train staff can range from store operational procedures to customer service updates to product training to seasonal staff meetings and more. The key is to invest time and dollars into your employees to reap the rewards of strong associates and as a result, strong sales.

Habit Four: Knowing the Competition is a Priority. 

Whether it’s your big box competitors or your local Main Street stores, successful merchants know who their competition is. And while it would be easy to simply read about their competition, savvy retailers take the time to actually visit the stores that compete with their business. Analyzing their product assortment, customer service experiences, in-store displays, online shopping opportunities, special events, dress code, store packaging, visual displays and overall consumer impressions are just a few of the things smart retailers look for when it comes to checking out their competition. Often, this type of routine analysis allows retailers to recognize new industry trends, missed opportunities, new strategies to compete for sales and other ways to stay afloat in the competitive retail marketplace. Note – what they don’t do is ignore their competition. Consistently analyzing the constantly changing retail environment is key.

Habit Five: Shifting Store Inventory is “Okay”. 

Often, retailers open a store because they love a particular product category and as a result, they enjoy buying inventory to sell in their stores. Unfortunately, this isn’t always a recipe for retail success. Merchants who have become successful and more importantly, stayed successful, are willing to shift their inventory plans to accommodate their customers versus themselves. This may mean eliminating a product line or an entire category of inventory, as well as introducing a new product category that even the retailer is surprised by. When merchants listen to their customers, react to consumer trends, work with their vendors and respond to what their customers want, they are able to more effectively buy inventory for their stores. Using data will once again help monitor this, as well. And as a result, retailers are able to sell more.


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