"Of course I want it today. If I wanted it tomorrow, I would have come in tomorrow."
That's what we call "retail time." Retailers are comfortable with that pace; they enjoy the variety; they welcome the need to change and adjust.
But, instead of just keeping life interesting, 2020 seems to have gone overboard in bringing changes and disruption to us all. The triple pandemic of the virus, the economy, and the civil unrest. And oh yes, it's also an election year. Enough already, right?
We think the most challenging part of this is the effect on our sense of time.
What day is this? What month? Really? Hasn't everything been disrupted? None of the usual patterns, the usual markers of the months or seasons seem to be available.
WHEN might we feel like we are back in charge of our own destiny? This state of suspended animation is no fun!
So, what time is it? Time to focus on those things we can control. And to relish the good changes that this year has brought.
Plus, with more customers of all age groups more comfortable with online communication and social media, your opportunities to bond with them are greatly improved. (Especially during an election year, when paid advertising is dominated by campaigns.)
No, we do not have the answer to "Are we there yet?"
But we do know that the best companion on that journey will be a retailer, willingly embracing the challenge. Just don't expect them to know what time it is either. Other than strange....
Maybe you've also noticed it. The recent articles about how retailers now have their inventories "more in line" after the glut of excess inventory caused by "supply chain disruption."
Okay. That's good news.
But, what jumps out at us is the frequent reference to "just-in-time" inventory management.
Look, if you can't measure it, you can't manage it. And, if you can't manage something, by definition (and experience!) it is out of control.
After months of doom-and-gloom headlines and hand-wringing about a recession in 2023, headlines last week (quietly) said this: "What Recession? Some Economists See Chances of a Growth Rebound." One economist, in fact, seemed a little chagrined to note "So far, the U.S. economy has proved unexpectedly resilient." *
Retailers must be mindful of all this as they make their business and buying decisions throughout the year. But the macro economy is simply interesting, but not significant. Your local economy is, of course, what really matters.
In that context, every savvy owner uses these three steps.
According to the calendar, as of March 21, it officially is springtime. No matter what the weather is doing.
Well, it's time to bring the calendar to real life! Spring is really a state of mind! The dark winter has passed. Even the rain is warmer in the spring. And new growth is beginning to sprout; leaves are coming out. It's a wonderful, fresh outlook.
And that of course means it is a wonderful opportunity for retailers to refresh and reenergize their stores.
No matter what merchandise you sell - whether it's tires, apparel, books, housewares, office supplies, whatever - every retailer is in the fashion business.
And that means that your customers are wanting what is new and fresh.You know; "in fashion."
Throughout the pandemics, many independent retailers successfully shed their "technology laggards" label, as they pivoted to embrace an array of digital tools.
Yet going forward, it is well to keep in mind what really matters to the customers. And it may not be more technology.
A recent survey* of more than 2,000 customers provides some interesting insights as to who shops where, why, when and how. It especially highlighted the differences between "large stores" and "smaller stores" (or as we view them, "specialty stores.")
Hmm. This suggests to us that shoppers essentially are treating large stores the same way they treat the internet:
You've seen all the headlines. Worldwide inflation. Dire warnings of a coming recession. Big time discounts at retailers due to boatloads of inventory. Amazon doubling down on their Prime Day(s) sales. Shoppers shopping early in anticipation of rising prices.
Shaping up to be yet another "unprecedented" Holiday season for retailers, isn't it?
And a wonderful opportunity for all merchants!
How best to start? Set the boundaries.
Next, establish clear routines for monitoring inventory levels.
People don't go into retailing to be financiers.
But few are attracted to the financial part.
Which is exactly why The Retail Owners Institute website has been built!
Given our years of experience consulting with retailers, especially in turnaround situations, our speaking at conferences and publishing in trade publications, we wanted to "level the playing field" for retailers.
Still less than $1 a day! 👀