Re-Inventing Retail

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

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How to deal with the turmoil and stress of today's retail environment?

Recent strategic changes by two global firms – McDonald's and 7-Eleven – offer good reminders for us all.

Each of these long-established businesses dealt with their growth challenges first by listening to their customers (using good data analysis and research).

Then, what they chose to do next offers some "food for thought" for all retailers. 

Each of these global businesses is making news by choosing to return their focus to what they are known for. Here are some quick summaries of "Why?" and "How?" they did it.


What is 7-Eleven known for? Convenience and low prices.

Granted, it is still a habit for many to stop at the corner store on the way to and from work, school and play. 

But for 7-Eleven to remain relevant, it needed an updated definition of “convenience” for its best customers: Millennials.

Here is what their research revealed (or confirmed):

Today, people are eating five and six times a day; over 40% of adults are eating alone and on-the-go. 

So 7-Eleven expanded its private label brands into portable, snack-sized “healthy and fresh foods”, geared especially to their Millennial shoppers.

Their Go!Smart brand offers an array of fresh foods especially appealing to women shoppers (small portions of turkey chili and cornbread, kale and quinoa salads, hummus, all labeled with nutritional info).

Their branded items also include gourmet nut and fruit snacks.

How did it work out? It has been a winner!

Sales of their private brands have grown smartly (30% in both 2015 and 2016). 

Since over 50% of their customers are Millennials – who now are old enough to buy beer and wine – the future looks bright as well.

7-Eleven: Updated, but back to its basic convenience premise.

Similarly, McDonald's has chosen to return its focus to delivering what it’s known for: burgers and fries. 

At low prices, from clean stores, and fast.

(Oh yes, Egg McMuffins - how about all day long?)

Why were they even considering a change in strategy? They discovered that fewer people were coming into their stores each year - not a recipe for success! 

Their new goal: “A better McDonald’s, not a different McDonald’s.”

They are simplifying the menu, to reduce the complexity of ordering and preparing (saving costs and time.) 

They still offer choices to the customer. But not of different items (wraps? salads?), but more choices about the burgers.

Ahh yes. The value of going back to the basics of what they are primarily known for. “You want fries with that?” 

Now, think about your own stores. 

Once upon a time...What were your stores known for? Then think about your stores in today's world.

What are your stores really known and loved for?

Does that still matter to today’s customers? (Be honest!)

If yes, how do you make it even better for that customer?

And then, Get cracking!

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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!"