Re-Inventing Retail

From the Co-Founders of The Retail Owners Institute.
Tips | Tactics | Insights on the Business of Retailing.

This Is the Year to Be Bold. Remember How? Bookmark

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The forecasts for Holiday Sales are coming out. And they are very upbeat! 

Sales increases of 4.5 percent are forecast, versus last year's 3.6 percent. Meanwhile, holiday e-commerce sales are projected to grow 18-21%.

"With disposable personal income climbing and consumer confidence staying elevated across the U.S., the holiday shopping season could bring healthier sales for retailers,"  stated Rod Sides, the head of Deloitte's Retail Practice.

"The good news is retail is thriving, with a proliferation of new, niche retailers."

No Room for Mediocrity Bookmark

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Aren't we all sick and tired of the perception that retailing is terminally ill?

While it’s tempting to simply paraphrase Mark Twain – “The news of the death of retailing has been greatly exaggerated.” – when dismissing the doom-and-gloomers, we think that Dave Gilboa, Co-Founder of Warby Parker, the eyewear retailer, summarized it more accurately in an interview last week on PBS:

“We don’t think retail’s dead.
We think mediocre retail is dead.”

And How Do You Define "Success?" Bookmark

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In 2004, Apple Computer was still climbing out of "beleaguered condition." Steve Jobs was the CEO, they released the first iPod Mini, and were just beginning the projects that would become the iPhone. 

And the company put Apple's "Rules for Success" on the back of employee badges.

You don't even have to be beleaguered for these "Rules for Success" to resonate. 


Wanted: Merchants, Not Algorithms. Bookmark

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Increasingly we hear about customers who – after spending time on Amazon – come away rather frustrated. 

And we've begun to wonder, do shoppers really want to choose from all the choices arrayed on an Amazon page? And do all the homework? 

Or are they becoming overwhelmed? 

No Surprise Here: Optimistic Retailers Look to Expand Bookmark

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The National Retail Federation sponsored a survey in early May of retail small business owners across the country (those that meet the SBA definitions for employee size and revenue.)

Contrary to the doom-and-gloom of the "Retail Armageddon" stories, this survey confirmed that retail owners are optimistic and looking to expand.

Few believe their business will be in worse shape in 12 months;

Nearly half expect revenues to increase;

Many have goals for expansion or implementation of new technologies.

How's Your "Wow!" Effect? Bookmark

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"No business has ever failed with happy customers."
---Warren Buffett, CEO, Berkshire-Hathaway

Buffett's logic is very straightforward: people like to indulge themselves.

For some observers, this helps to explain Buffett's investments in "junk food" – from Coke, to See's Candy, Dairy Queen, etc. 

"The CEO of Berkshire-Hathaway invests in bad food and his diet reflects it: he drinks Coke at breakfast and ice cream is an occasional accompaniment," writes Kyle Stock of Bloomberg News.

"When asked about his diet, Buffett has said he aims to eat like a 6-year-old because that's the age at which mortality is least likely."

Why Omnivorous Amazon Gobbled Up Whole Foods Bookmark

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So, Amazon announced its plan to acquire Whole Foods, the 440 store natural foods grocer concentrated in urban locations, for more than $13 Billion (yes, with a b). They do have a flair for the dramatic, eh?

So, why does Amazon want to acquire Whole Foods? 

Our opinion:
Amazon is a technology company, and relentlessly data-driven. 

We believe they want to acquire Whole Foods for the same reason that drives acquisitions at most technology companies: Amazon wants the Intellectual Property of Whole Foods.

What is the "Intellectual Property" of Whole Foods? Two key assets that do not show up on the Balance Sheet.

"Good Customer Service" - for Which Customer? Bookmark

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In today’s seemingly chaotic retail environment, much is being said and written about the importance of good customer service. And there are many suggestions on how to do it.

The Retail Owners Institute asks the question, “Good customer service? Of course. But, for which customer?” 

Consider, for example, how different lifestages can create much different expectations for “good service”.

Hmm. Your Stores in Red States or Blue States? Bookmark

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A new consumer confidence study based on monthly interviews with 9,000 respondents (versus the 500 or so polled in the University of Michigan consumer sentiment study) finds that the the key difference/predictor in people's attitude about the economy (and shopping!) is their political views. 

That's right. What seems to matter more today may not be whether you're in a mall or strip center. When it comes to location, apparently what really matters is, Red State or Blue State?

About The Co-Founders

Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt, The Co-Founders of The Retail Owners Institute®, have been called "The Zen masters of retail finance!"

Since 1999, they have been assembling  their proprietary content into a unique self-help website. The Retail Owners Institute is an unmatched resource that assists retailers worldwide with basic financial training, assistance and easy-to-use tools.

Their engaging and empowering how-to resources about the financial levers in retailing are informative, fun(!), and retailer-friendly. Their promise: "Everyone will 'get it'!"

Pat and Dick are recognized experts in strategic retailing. Working only as a team – Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists, LLC – they have been consulting, publishing, and speaking professionally throughout North America since 1990.

They focus exclusively on retail, or wherever retail is involved. They work with CEOs, CFOs, boards and owners of retail operations, as well as manufacturers or wholesalers expanding into retail. And they also are Retail Turnaround Experts.

Since 1999, empowering retailers and store owners to "Turn on your financial headlights!"