From The Co-Founders


Tips, Tactics & Strategic Insights and Commentary
from The ROI Co-Founders, Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt
Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists LLC; Retail Turnaround Experts

Bold Way To Improve Productivity 

As we look around, we see a popular cost-saving and productivity-boosting tactic being instituted by many national retailers, shopping malls, and restaurants. They are open fewer hours. 

This offers an opportunity for you to revisit your store hours and employee scheduling practices. Maybe it's time to consider some changes, if you haven't already. 

Your customers have voted with their feet. Your goal is to see what patterns there are in their shopping visits. (This could be a fine project for a summer employee home from college.)

Start small; focus on , say, the last four weeks of data collected by your POS system. But this time, produce reports by the day of the week. Yep, seven columns of data. Wait till you see what it can reveal!

Use This Four-Day-Fourth To The Max!

Get "Freedom" From Old Merchandise

Find out how revolutionizing it can be to have freedom from old merchandise!

This year, the stars align. The 4th of July is on a Thursday!

We see it as a gift for retailers from the calendar gods. Four days, Thursday through Sunday. What a great opportunity for a true blow-out sale event!

Perhaps you saw that recent article* in The Wall Street Journal. As Ruth Simon reported, "The cost pressures squeezing small businesses – and their need to pass along those higher charges – help explain why inflation has been so stubborn."

  • Over 80% of small business owners cited rising labor costs as the greatest impact on their cost of doing business.
  • Two-thirds of owners identified the rising costs of Commercial Insurance, Goods/Inputs, and Employee Benefits (including health insurance) as most significant. (see chart**)

Retailers are caught by these tough uncontrollables, whether dealing with customers or employees.

A couple weeks ago, we received another very insightful email from a long time professional friend. Because of his unique perspective on retailing, we’re sharing a portion of his note.

First, you must understand that our friend had owned one of the finest specialty stores in the Midwest for years. Then, for the last ten years, he chose to work in sales for a prominent national retailer. He’s probably forgotten more about the nuances of retailing excellence than any of us even know.

We think you’ll agree with our friend. And probably recognize your own experiences.

“Yes, lots of challenges for xxxx and pretty much any retailer these days. They are wrestling with some legacy issues as well as societal issues like Millennials’ and Gen Z's general distrust of institutional authority and unhappiness with the hand they've been dealt.”

Ahh, springtime! A time for new beginnings, fresh starts.

Spring also is a time for "Spring Cleaning" – that time of year to spruce up, clean up, fix up. Sigh! Another chore.

This year, here's how to break out of that another-to-do-task rut.

It starts by seeing your stores the way your shoppers see them. Then, with that awareness, the spruce up, clean up, fix up tasks can actually focus on attracting and appealing to your very best customers. 

And we have the (free!) tool to make all this happen.

We've been wondering...

What's the #1 thing that the retail industry needs now more than anything else?

More towns. 

That's right, more towns and villages. Look, towns tend to be more residential, even slower and more relaxed. 

Even the word conjures up warmth. 

And towns, and the people who love towns, are a mecca for the vibrancy of retailing. Think about it: the retail industry needs more towns!

And it's already trending in that direction. Macys, Whole Foods, Nordstrom Rack, and Walmart have announced rolling out small formats, seeking locations closer to residential areas. They recognize that's where their customers are and will prefer to be. 

Conversely, there are way too many cities. 

The Most Dynamic Management Tool for Retailers

What is the "return on investment" of a retailer's largest investment? The GMROI calculation is the tool for the job!

GMROI – Gross Margin Return on Inventory Investment – indicates how much Gross Margin you get back for each dollar “invested” in inventory over a year. 

No other formula, no other calculation, simultaneously impacts both Gross Margin and Cash Flow. No wonder we consider GMROI as the #1 measure of inventory productivity.

And since inventory represents between 65%-80% of a retailer's total assets, it deserves a lot of management attention.

Let's start with a little "window shopping." Check below for the GMROI Benchmarks for just a few retail segments. 

  • Yes, there's a lot of variation. In 2023, for instance, results for just these 6 segments range from $1.90 to $7.50. You'll likely see similar variations between departments in your stores, which is one of the advantages of GMROI. Which ones are most productive?
  • Now look at each of these sets of Benchmarks charts individually, and their GMROI over the last 5 years. A few ups and downs, eh? Just not the same ups and downs for everybody. Note: GMROI's that are going up are sure preferable!

Is This Why Many Retailers Fail?

Maybe you've also noticed it. The recent articles about how retailers now have their inventories "more in line" after the glut of excess inventory caused by "supply chain disruption."

Okay. That's good news.

But, what jumps out at us is the frequent reference to "just-in-time" inventory management.

  • Really? Tell us, What is the formula for calculating "just-in-time"? 
  • What time is "just-in-time"? Is it 2 turns on the inventory? Four turns? Six turns? Twelve turns? Or what?!?

Look, if you can't measure it, you can't manage it. And, if you can't manage something, by definition (and experience!) it is out of control.