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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VUCA: The Acronym for These Times

Every day, there are all too many headlines of things outside our control. 

  • The war in Ukraine. 
  • The global energy crisis.Inflation. 
  • Rising interest rates. 
  • The falling stock market. 
  • Wildfires. 
  • Droughts. 
  • Supply chain disruptions. 
  • Rising costs. 
  • Crime rates. 
  • Social injustices. 
  • The latest coronavirus variant.
  • And...And...And...

The drumbeat of news about these events is relentless. And wearing. 

While retailers are notably resiliant and optimistic, there IS a limit to how much uncertainty one can continue to take.

Then we discovered that there is a name for all this: VUCA.

That is an acronym for 

  • Volatility
  • Uncertainty
  • Complexity 
  • Ambiguity

Yep, that just about covers it! (Or as some suggest, just another Tuesday in retailing.)

How to cope with VUCA?

  • Not by just succombing to it, doing nothing. "Woe is me."
  • Not by being a victim, and becoming resentful.
  • Instead, how about the advice we received from a wise friend: Make Something Happen!

Here are some reminders that are low to no cost, but have high impact.

Pick Up the Pace

  • This is no time for the "hunker down" mentality. Let your competitors be sluggish and dismal. Make yours the fun place to shop!
  • Change displays more often. Move the merchandise around. 
  • Have enthusiasm. Energy. Walk faster!
  • Spend more time on the selling floor.

Brighten and Invigorate Your Store 

  • Increase lighting! Use spots to showcase the merchandise you most need (or want) to sell through.
  • Spiff up. Spruce up. Clean up. No fingerprints on windows, doors, cash wrap counters, etc. 
  • Use music. (Remember, it's for the customers, not the staff.) Upbeat. Energy.
  • And this: the bathrooms (yes, those really matter) are not to be broom closets! Be sure they are clean and inviting.

Be More Involved In Your Community 

  • Retailers have a unique "citizenship" role to play. What is expected from business leaders today is changing. Be more involved in ways that matter to you, whether it's supporting the community theater, coaching youth soccer, building a skateboard park, or whatever. 

In other words, be optimistic and opportunistic – and "Make something happen!" 

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