Each of us, our households, businesses and communities are in different stages of shutdown due to the coronavirus.
While we cannot speak to when this will end, we do have some ideas for dealing with the "fog of uncertainty" that hangs over us all.
FIRST, SPRING CLEANING
There are some steps you can be taking right now that can be thought of as Spring Cleaning.
Foremost among those: clearing out inventory. You cannot wait. You must be taking steps now to reduce your inventory.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR "CLEARANCE" MERCHANDISE?
Here's an idea: Take that really old, out-of-season merchandise and sell it online to a whole new batch of customers.
If you haven't already been set up to sell online, or even if you have, a new online outlet can be a great opportunity to "dump merchandise" at very steep markdowns away from your present clientele.
GET READY FOR "WHAT'S NEXT"
Okay, start looking ahead to after the shutdown. This will not be back to normal/business as usual!
PLANNING YOUR "NEW STORE OPENING"
In fact, in our minds, do not think of it as re-opening your store; think of it as a New Store Opening. And that means some major rethinking.
Who is your target customer?
Best to have thought this through now. It makes a big difference in how you go about clearing out your inventory, AND in what orders you place going forward.
NEXT, WHAT ABOUT THE IN-STORE EXPERIENCE?
This might be a good time to consider a new layout for your store. (Here's a plus: Often when store layouts are changed, even long time customers "discover" merchandise for the first time.)
REMEMBER, DO NOT MISS THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHANGE OFFERED BY A CRISIS!
YES, DEVELOP A BUDGET PLAN FOR YOUR NEW STORE OPENING
Here is where you can take advantage of the unlimited free access to The ROI's 3-in-1 Cash Flow Calculator for retailers. There are just a few numbers you will need for inputs in order to get a first draft. From there, the 3-in-1 Calculator can do all the number-crunching for you.
Remember, customers will be very price conscious (what one economist described as "prone to thrift." Gee, really?!)
There will be clearance sales or Going Out of Business sales all around you. (Another reason to have been aggressive in your Spring Cleaning clearance efforts! You need to beat the rush.)
Think of this as a new store. The first few months (indeed, the first year) will not be what you would expect from your present operation. Do not expect to just pick up from where you left off.
Ready? Here we go.
Don't linger too long over the profit and losses for these first 12 months; it likely will be grim. (It's a New Store, remember? Cut it some slack!)
Importantly, with just a couple more entries from you, the 3-in-1 Cash Flow Calculator will produce an Open-to-Buy inventory buying plan, AND a cash flow projection.
And those are the two areas that deserve your attention and good judgment.
The constant challenge for retailers is to anticipate what their customers really want. And this year, there seem to be plenty of choices available.
It is all part of the on-going challenge of retail; the art and craft of being a merchant.
Then there are the customers who are reacting to the constant drumbeat of news about supply chain issues, merchandise shortages, and looming price increases by starting their shopping early.
Adding to this stampede, some major chains were launching their Black Friday specials before Halloween!
As Amazon Prime Day approaches – it is June 21 and 22 this year, the earliest ever for this 48-hour promotional event – retailers from all segments are wondering (or being asked): "So, how do you compete with Amazon?"
Our response? You don't, at least not directly.
Yet independent retailers do have many strategic advantages over Amazon. But you must recognize them, and enhance them at every opportunity. Here are some ideas that you may want to consider.
Yes, we know. Owning a retail business these days is one flexibility test after another. And there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.
In the United States, one of the most widespread impacts of the virus is uncertainty. With no end in sight. It is the virus that is in charge. As the president of Alaska Airlines noted, "We don't know what the future looks like."*
But the fact remains, whomever is selling to the ultimate consumer has leverage. Might that be you?
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?
Maybe you know someone like this. Or are related to them. Or are looking at them each day in the mirror.
You know; the restless, impatient ones. The entrepreneurs; the risk takers. Those who want to be their own boss. "Do it myself!"
Our theory is that the changes spawned from these triple pandemics – the coronavirus, the economic meltdown, and the civil unrest – will also be evident in new business startups. And that includes all kind of new retail concepts.
Out of this period of unprecedented frustration can come new-found backbones.
Since we first established The Retail OWNERS Institute®, we have asserted that the greatest growth opportunity in retailing is between the ears of the owners. And nothing since then – not even (or maybe especially!) – a once-in-a-century pandemic has diminished our belief.
Independent retailers and restauranteurs have been among the first business owners to pivot to a survival mode. Why? Because they have had plenty of practice!
Still less than $1 a day! 👀