Perspectives

From The Co-Founders

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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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Time to Re-Charge Your Merchant Instincts

Amidst the fog of uncertainty of 2020, retailers have experienced a breath-taking acceleration of time, as an array of new-to-retailers technologies have now become almost commonplace. 

2020 has put an end to the days of retailers being technology laggards. We applaud the resilience and adaptability of retailers who did embrace change and especially technology during 2020. Retailers definitely rose to the occasion!

And yet, again, the virus is surging. Even as promising announcements are made about vaccines, the threat that COVID-19 continues to pose to the survival of local businesses is ominous, and substantial.

We agree! This is so not fair!

But, who is up to that challenge? Independent retailers who are merchants supreme.

Why? Because above all else, they are people-people. They have human connections with their customers. They understand, far better than any algorithm, what their customers need and want.

All that technology cannot and will not supplant the ingenuity and personal understanding of independent retailers. 

People will still celebrate Thanksgiving. They will still exchange holiday gifts with family and friends. They all are faced with the same challenge: HOW to do that?! 

All of which is a great opportunity for you and your stores. Now more than ever, it is time for your inner merchant to shine forth. 

How many ways can you help your customers overcome their major worries?

  • Are they worried about coming into your store? 
    Ramp up your "concierge shopping." Let people make appointments to come into your store, and receive very personal attention.
 
  • Or is it just the usual worries: What to get for specific people? 
    Offer one-on-one video chats
    . Be a true personal shopper. Walk them around the store; show them specific items. (Great opportunity for add-on sales, too.)
 
  • "Will the gift wrap look too commercial?"
    Showcase your personalized gift wrapping! Make it a true value-added service. (Even give them a chance to drop off personal notes to be included.) 
 
  • Are they worried about shipping? 
    Offer a choice of shipping options, from the Postal Service to other shippers. Just like you do in your own home. 
 
  • Do they want to do more of this for themselves?
    No problem! Offer curbside pickup. Or even have employees who can drive it to their homes.
 

Especially these days, the warmth of that genuine human connection matters a lot! Independent retailers, true merchants, can help their customers now more than ever. 

Stay strong, and be safe. 



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