By: PEDRO PENTON TODAY’S GROCER Publisher President, Técnica Business Systems
Now days in the world of retail, you have to remember an age old quote, “make a customer not a sale”. Then there is the quote about the famous book published by a Harvard professor and consultant Michael Porter: Knowledge is Power, however, enthusiasm pulls the switch. If you don’t have a relationship with your customers, then you are disconnected from reality and you will soon see how fast you become part of a retail statistics that is not highly recognized but rather pitied.
If you read the industry journals and are staying up with the retail indicators, there are several commanding trends that will matter most to retailers. Multichannel and electronic or mobile commerce, personalized marketing, demographic transformations and the new retail business models will define what it takes to be a successful retailer. The truth is that all these elements will continue to evolve and have an effect on the entire playing field – however there is nothing healthier for a retailer than having your finger on the pulse of the relationship that exists with his/her customers.
As I see it, the independent retailer must be determined and take aggressive steps in expanding the revenue streams, cut costs – not only in direct product costs, but also indirect products costs that are not for resale and of course labor costs. Independent retailers need to consider reconfiguring the geographical space use for selling – make it smaller and be carefully selective about your product offerings and incorporate more service oriented income generating concepts within the retail platform. With all the new technological tools that exists in the industry the retailer of today needs to invest in technology to extract the analytics to make important business decisions.
Here’s what I have found speaking to season veterans and new up and coming passionate retailers – your customers have an easy and immediate way to respond to you when you have a smile on your face and when your employees are excited about working for you – the entire store lights up like a great big display of winners. The customers of today, all they have to do is hit “reply”, write a comment, or click a link to a website. They don’t have to decide to pick up the phone, they don’t have to put anything in the mail, and they don’t have to wait for regular business hours. Your competitor is just a couple of city blocks down the street – making it easy for your customer to do business with you is very important. Loyal independent retailers that protect their relationships with the vendors that care about their business will generate and become influential in receiving beneficial concessions when the time comes to consider growth. Being accessible to your customers and the wholesalers you do business with, will go a long way in keeping your lights on when the next chapter of the local retail history is written.
All this adds up to one thing. You can – and are much more likely to – communicate frequently with your customers and build great “Top of Mind Awareness.” As a result, you’ll get stronger, deeper, better customer relationships, if your relationship internally is encouraging and you are fostering constructive, effective and a confident staff.
Just to name a couple of retailers that are revolutionary in their approach to consumers, Amazon already offers same day delivery and is seeking approval by the FAA to use drones to make deliveries in the time it takes a consumer to think about shopping at your store; United Kingdom retailer ASOS is offering two day delivery worldwide. Make sure that the next time a customer walks into your store he or she is walking into a retail store that has a sense of entertainment, excitement and electricity, that everyone wants to just simply go there. That will be the beginning of a long lasting bond with your potential customers.