Perspectives

From The Co-Founders

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Tips, Tactics & Strategic Insights and Commentary
from The ROI Co-Founders, Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt
Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists LLC; Retail Turnaround Experts


ROI Co-Founders
ROI Co-Founders's Article
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You've no doubt seen the headlines. "Retail sales slumped in December." 

Sounds pretty grim, doesn't it? Did all those foreboding warnings of supply chain issues, inventory shortages, etcetera actually come true?

  • Keep in mind that the folks trumpeting those slumping sales results are comparing each month's retail sales to the previous month. Sure enough, on that basis it is true that retail sales in December were almost 2% less than they were in November.
     
  • However, if you examine the same numbers the way that retailers do– that is, comparing to the same month the prior year – we see a very different story.

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See the forest, not just the trees

Now that we've put a wrap on 2021, and before we really dive into 2022, it's time to catch your breath and reflect on where we are after 2021. 

Perhaps like us you believe that fundamental and enduring changes have occurred; no one can operate on "auto-pilot" anymore. All of us have to learn new processes, and form new habits. What's it called? Oh yes; "embracing change." Lots of it. 

That's why it is a very opportune time, particularly for owners, to have a very active Q&A session with themselves. 

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Keeping Perspective

Is there a more difficult everyday challenge?

As owners of businesses, we've got all of the issues of the times right on our plates. Think about it:

  • Every family has ups and downs. In fact, every person does.
  • And it seems that all of our constituencies – family, friends, neighbors, customers, employees, landlords, lenders, vendors – look to us for answers, for leadership. "Well, after all, you are the owner!"
  • Meanwhile, the covid turbulence has magnified the fact that there's really no how-to manual for dealing with a wily once-in-a-century pandemic.

Is there a more difficult every day challenge than maintaining perspective? We don't think so.

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As we get ready for the New Year, and the post-Holiday season slowdown settles in, here's a positive way for retailers to re-energize and re-focus their entire organization, whether one store or even a hundred. 

We learned this from one of our clients with nearly 50 stores widely scattered over 6 states. Each day, without fail, they would take time for what they called the "Corporate Cheer." 

You will see how it can be a fun addition to any retail business, no matter the size.

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The definition of a good coach is “That person who makes you do the things you don’t want to do, to become the person you want to be.”

Given that, we would suggest that the pandemic proved to be a great coach for many retailers. So much so, "Coach P" really deserves being recognized as the Coach of the Year!

Think about it. The pandemic forced retailers to do things they had long evaded or delayed (remember “technology laggards?”) 

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In most years, this is the week that is typically a bit of a lull. The first wave of shoppers – Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Shop Local Saturday, Cyber Monday – has crested; the final wave doesn't begin in earnest until this coming weekend.

But this year IS different. Shoppers began shopping in earnest much earlier. And they use the internet to do their browsing, and then have an array of choices for receiving their purchases, from delivery to curbside pickup to in-store pickup.

So, what better time than this to revisit your returns policy?!

 

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The #1 responsibility of every retailer is to manage and control the inventory. By doing that, you are managing margin, profit, cash flow...also known as success!

Managing inventory demands a merger of art – the selection of merchandise – and science – the quantity of merchandise at any given time. 

And here is a formula that makes the science part accessible for every retailer. All you need is a pencil to do this (remember those?) And it can and should be embraced by every retailer!

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Thanksgiving time in the U.S. is not a good time to be a turkey. 

And, the week after Thanksgiving is obviously not a good time to try to be selling turkeys, or turkey dinners. Especially at full price.

The same thing applies to your inventory! Especially with all the challenges and distractions surrounding supply chain issues, there could be lots of "turkeys" languishing in the inventory in your stores. You know; non-selling, distressed, old, unappealing leftovers among your merchandise.