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

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Okay, we're ready. So...where are the customers?!

So, say you have re-opened your stores. Then what? Did the customers come back? 

Or, were many of those who did show up just there to say "Hello!" And "We missed you!", but not to buy? Sigh.

We are not surprised. And here's why.


Any customer must satisfy three key elements in order for a transaction to occur. Two out of three will not do; all three must be met. 

No matter what you are selling, for a transaction to occur, every customer MUST have 

  • the NEED to buy what you are selling; 
  • AND, the ABILITY to buy (e.g., able to pay);
  • AND, the WILLINGNESS to buy.

Again, just two out of three of these won't do.

And unfortunately, only two of the three are within your ability to control.

  • No matter how effective you might have been at the two elements you can control – eg, selecting the merchandise that your customers have loved, or attracting customers to your shop – there is very little you can do about that third crucial factor: the ability to buy.

That is driven by the source of income for your best customers, the degree of confidence and certainty they have in their own financial situation. "The economy."

Yep. Another one of those "uncontrollable variables." The sooner you recognize that, the sooner you can re-focus your energy and resources on those things you can manage. 

What CAN You Do?

How might you sharpen the focus on the merchandise you are selling, to better match how today's customers perceive their NEED to buy?

  • Perhaps it's editing your assortments more deeply.
  • Arming yourself with an analysis of GMROI by vendor to prepare for those upcoming sessions with your reps (who are under great pressure to meet sales goals.)
  • Considering new vendors, new sources of merchandise, such as those online marketplaces featuring small (and hungry!) producers.


There are even more opportunities to adapt and adjust regarding the WILLINGNESS to buy.

  • How safe and welcoming does your store feel?
  • Does it radiate resentment about the current situation, or reflect an upbeat approach to making the best of it?
  • Have you made it easier, faster, more certain for your customers to buy from you? "Concierge services," such as appointments, or curbside pickup, or delivery?
  • How well have you embraced technology? Do you have a better web presence? More visibility into merchandise availability?


You know all too well how it feels to deal with uncontrollable variables. Your customers are feeling the same way. Whatever you can do to give your shoppers a greater sense of control is likely to be very welcomed! 

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