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

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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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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?”) 

It has begun; the 4th quarter of the year. But sadly, Covid-19, the Delta variant, and now the Alpha variant will have huge influence. 

Meanwhile, there is no shortage of opinions and predictions about the economy, whether from Wall Street, the Fed, Capitol Hill, or your buying group or retail trade association. 

Amidst all this, we were intrigued by a report that could be of far more value to retailersresults of a monthly survey of consumer concerns.* After all, for retailers, the shopper matters much more than the pundits on the business pages.

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Think about it. Shoppers, employees, people everywhere today have, in the back of their minds, one defining thought. 

No matter where they work, where they shop, where they live, where they travel, where they eat, they always wonder "How safe will I be?"

For retailers, the Fog of Uncertainty that began in April 2020 around the pandemics keeps coming back. Just when it appeared that we were ready to "get back to life" if not "back to normal," the Delta variant has surged. 

This has created more uncertainty. How willing are your customers to actually go out and shop? Even more important (to you): how willing are YOUR customers to shop with YOU?

So, here's an idea: Why not ask them? Really. Send them a short questionnaire.*

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There's something in the air. And no, it is not smoke! 

We believe there is a profound feeling of "springtime."

We know; spring officially is still two months away. But that springtime state of mind IS here. And we all should embrace the opportunities it may bring us.

What's the source of this attitude change?

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"Keep your head up. 2021 is going to be great!"


That message is emblazoned – in sunshine colors - in the windows of Nordstrom's flagship store in downtown Seattle. And yes, on a drizzly January day in Seattle, it was a welcome sight this morning. A nice pep talk for us all.

And a fitting message to follow our reflections on the year we just experienced. 

Since March 2 of 2020, our From The Co-Founders commentary has been focused on the pandemics. Revisiting those was quite the "year in review" experience.*

  • From March 2: "This is no time to overreact, nor to be dismissive. Look for the facts!"
  • And, "Our focus is on those impacts that demand the most judgment from owners."

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As we reflect on this year and the multiple and still-ongoing effects of the pandemic, we are inspired once again by the resilience and perseverance of independent retailers. 

Then we saw a comment about dealing with adversity that seems particularly relevant to retailers. 

Remember Cher, the entertainer? (And conservationist and philanthropist.) She was asked by Christine Amanpour about how she dealt with adversity and setbacks (like bankruptcy) throughout her career.