Re-Inventing Retail

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

What's Really Happening to Retailing? Bookmark

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You've seen all those comments, right? All the dire news about the demise of retailing?

It was 20 years ago this week that Amazon went public. Twenty years. And now they are valued at twice the value of Walmart.

As an independent retailer, this is certainly not news to you. The domination of retail first by Walmart and then Amazon is all-too-well known.

Look, we are not fond of what Amazon has done to independent retailers. But, we were struck by a comment by Jeff Bezos in a 2013 interview with Charlie Rose which we had missed earlier.

"Distracted Customer Syndrome" Becomes Chronic Bookmark

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After watching consumers being riveted on chaotic national affairs for almost a year, we now have put a label on it: “Distracted Customer Syndrome”. And it seems, sadly, to be unrelenting.

It started during the 2016 Presidential election campaign. Nothing about that was typical. It made for good television theater, and the networks certainly obliged.

And, we ascribed the sluggish retail sales in the fall to demands of this new American spectator sport. 

Banks Are Lending. Remember How to Schmooze? Bookmark

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You’ve been seeing these reports, too? 

Word is that banks are increasingly willing to lend, especially to “small businesses.” There are several influences at play here.

One is the optimism in the business community that the Trump Administration and Republican Congress will actually reduce regulations, loosen compliance demands, and otherwise open the spigot more.

And Community Banks are optimistic for relief from some of the more onerous paperwork requirements that were written with the Big Banks in mind. 

Meanwhile, the rise of alternative lenders – the online marketplaces – brought a more streamlined way to handle the paperwork of banks. And they paved the way for using Big Data to make safe, defensible lending solutions.

Oh Those "Stealth Competitors" Bookmark

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Quick: Who are your major competitors? Amazon? Target? Wal-Mart? Other specialty store retailers in your market?

Yes, all those and more.

But, what about the "stealth competitors" affecting every retailer – whether you are selling apparel, furniture, motorcycles, books, smart phones, or whatever? Stealth competitors; they are out there.

These competitors are hiding in plain sight. And, in our view, they significantly impact – and reduce – retail sales by skimming off discretionary spending.

3-D Printers Need 3-D Retailers Bookmark

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You’ve heard about 3D printers, right? They are computer devices that use a blueprint (a “digital model”) of an object and produce (“print”) one or more copies of that object by painstakingly building up layer after layer of its form. 

Essentially anything that is manufactured can be replicated, one by one, with a 3-D printer!

And, be ready. It is coming to a store near you very soon. Shouldn't it be your store?

What Customers Really Want Bookmark

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We are living in unsettling times of rapid change, magnified by news cycle drama. 

Maybe it’s the latest natural disasters or the uncertainty of international conflicts. Or closer to home, aging parents, unexpected expenses, or just trying to open a new bottle of aspirin, life can seem more out of control than normal.

This anxiety and frustration can be unsettling to many folks, some of whom undoubtedly are your customers.

And frankly, as the frustrations grow of having less control, some people will seek more control wherever they can.

Where would that be? That’s right. Your stores. You and your staff must be ready.

New "Exit Strategy" Concept Bookmark

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"Retirement" looming? Ready to reduce hassles and worries, but not really ready for a rocking chair? 

Here’s a variation on a “mixed use development” that could offer a great transition plan to retailers.

We just heard about a new kind of “mixed-use development” (you know, retail shops on the ground floor, residences up above.) Some of the new townhouses being sold in a planned resort community come with a first-floor retail shop. The owner of the townhouse owns the shop space as well!

NPR = Never. Pay. Retail. Bookmark

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A new consumer study by First Insight* confirmed: “Today’s consumers expect discounts every time they shop.”  The documentation of this phenomenon – what we often refer to as “NPR: Never Pay Retail” – is not surprising. But it is quite sobering.

And then there is this (why do we need to be reminded?): In the battle to deliver "what the customers want", discounts offered have to be real! 

Yes, even if your name is Amazon!

Cannibalizing Sales? Really? Bookmark

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"Are retailers eating themselves alive?"

That was the provocative headline we recently saw.

Then this followed: “Retailers' rising e-commerce sales are taking a big bite out of their brick-and-mortar revenues – a wide-ranging problem.” 

Other pundits we've seen call it “an untenable dynamic for these retailers.”

“Huh?”, we scoffed, as we read this about major retailers.

The definition of retailing is “selling to the ultimate consumer.” Why does it really matter whether they buy from you in-store or online?

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!"