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

Breathe. And now, get cracking!

Maybe you heard it. 

We heard this weekend a resounding sigh of relief from around the world. The election has ended. 

For all of us, this passage invites fresh optimism, a fresh resilience, and a fresh commitment to the important things in life.

As retailers, one of those important things is your operation. 

The situation suggests that now is the perfect time to reexamine your competitive edge.

And to help you get started, consider these concepts from Doug Stephens, the founder of Retail Prophet, who spoke recently at a retail summit held at Texas A&M. 

As reported by Kim Souza of Talk Business & Politics*, Stephens advises retailers to answer questions around their purpose. Stephens then identified 10 separate "purpose categories," and gave examples of brands that characterize each. 

What struck us was that all of these have to do with how to connect with the customer. And that of course is foundational for independent retailers, the "people people." 

So, before despairing that technology is taking over, consider these 10 qualities. What do you want your stores to be known for?

  • Storyteller brand. Nike tells powerful inspiring stories, and consumers wear that brand as an emblem. 
  • Activist brands, that align with customer values. Example: Patagonia, known for its support of social justice and environmental issues. 
  • Tastemaker retailer. Neighborhood Goods in Texas, offering a carefully curated selection that changes with the seasons and customer demand. 
  • "Retailtainment" – retail marketing as entertainment. CAMP, "an artistbrand", a toy store that also provides a black box theater experience for kids. 
  • Clairvoyant brand. Stitch Fix. Uses artificial intelligence to predict demand, but also to provide personalized customer service and a "surprise factor" to delight their customers. 
  • Concierge retailers. Nordstrom, Costco, Ulta - highly personalized customer service. 
  • Oracle brands. where customers go for the best advice. One example: Hodinkee, an authority on watches and timepieces.
  • Engineer brands, like Apple and Dyson, with unique and expertly designed products. 
  • Gatekeeper brands, who build a moat around themselves regarding a category or market. Stephens cites Luxottica, Sunglass Hut owner, which owns 80% of the major eyewear stores.
  • But, these gatekeeper brands offer opportunities for  "renegade brands:" Warby Parker. These disruptors answer the question, "Is there a better way?"

History will report that in the last few days, while one door closed, the many windows that have opened invite all of us to take a deep breath of fresh air, and get cracking!

Retailing resurrection in post-COVID era must be purpose-driven. Kim Souza,Talk Business & Politics, November 4, 2020.

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