Never forget the importance of retail basic best practices

Never forget the importance of retail basic best practices

It’s late in the fourth quarter football fans. The home team is down by 6 with 4 seconds on the clock. There are no timeouts remaining and 40 yards to go. This last play will determine the game. Man do we love (or hate) his moment; all depending which side of the ball you sit! Should you be rooting for the home team, that magic moment is best in the hands of a Rodgers, Brady, Bledsoe – or one of the other last second comeback gun-slinging greats. Dial-up the Hail Mary! But we know for every Hail Mary that brings that stinging sweet victory – there are exponentially more stories that end with yet another blown opportunity. As the game tapes get played and the critics point fingers – it isn’t the last minute 40-yard bomb that gets scrutinized – it is the list of missed tackles, poor blocking and missed plays that put the team in that dire 40 yard last second hope crap shoot. If you really think about it, a successful team could be as simple as a team that averages just over 3.5 yards per play – consistently. Yes, a few other things need to fall into place – but consistent predictable victory isn’t the result of big play after big play. It is repetitive success at the basics. Great blocking. Great tackling. Consistent delivery on every play (everyday) performance metrics. But the Hail Mary is still the shiny object many retailers rely on in their businesses!

I was reading a great article in Retail Dive “Is home goods the next retail sector ripe for disruption?” (Link below). I think I can safely say that it’s already happening. As an industry furniture and mattress retail was ripe years ago. However most have not risen to the challenge. Many traditional retailers have looked and maybe even admitted the need; but no action. No traction. Worse yet, most retailers are looking for that “Hail Mary”. They have not taken steps to rip down their business model and redefine it from the ground up. They instead have opted for business as usual. A very scary proposition. In the article I mentioned a bit ago it talks about all the exciting prospects of AR and VR in furniture retail. As someone that follows technology extremely close – moving the journey closer to “where” the consumer is – is where tech like AR really makes the magic happen. Immersing the consumer in that seamless experience – from want/need to credit card out. Someday we will even figure out a way to emit that sent of fresh paint, new hardwood floors – and freshly baked cookies. Retailers need to connect more and more of the omnichannel consumer dots – technology obviously being a big piece of this “connecting”. However, it is not any one thing that is the Hail Mary retailers are looking for. Technology is an enabler and an accelerator – but it is nailing the daily “blocking and tackling” that sets the stage for any tech to really liven up the party.

Here are 3 “blocking and tackling” exercises that you can integrate into each week’s retail planning to ensure you are making the right moves to a more immersive omnichannel retail experience.

Shop yourself. Where do you stumble? Pretty self-explanatory. We are all consumers. However, most store owners have their excuse list out as to why the same rules don’t apply to their retail business. Check that list at the door. Put on the consumer hat and experience “your retail experience”. How is that for you? Identify areas that are stumbling blocks and fix them. Move to the next. This should be a never-ending exercise. I mean, how do you feel as a credit card carrying consumer when you go to a store and the lights are dim? Signage outdated? Merchandise in the same place it was last year (last month)? ALSO – Visit your website. Carry that experience through to the store. (Hint – Ask a couple friends to do it for you and be ready for some tough feedback. Tuck the pride aside and fix it!!)

Train your staff about your digital efforts. Last week I went into a furniture store and asked the very energetic sales associate – “Tell me about the king-sized bed you have on the home page of your website”. Absolutely no clue. None. She had to go find a computer with internet to look. And it was apparent that it was not a regular exercise for her to be on their website. (I’ll admit I baited her to show me her website knowledge via leading questions.. sorry). As retail owners you are are doing yourself a huge disservice if you are not having a “what’s on the web” meeting and making sure your team is fully equipped to handle any question that consumers have pertaining to all your online efforts. Keep in mind that consumers start online, and then if your lucky visit a store. (A STORE… 1.3 stores to be exact). Wouldn’t it make sense to be able to ask the customer “Did you see the latest on Facebook”? “On our website”? Train your team on your web efforts!

You touch the showroom. Touch your website. Make it fresh. Make it consistent. How many times do you move your main showroom around? Probably not enough, but you do it. Now, how many times have you “merchandised” the home page of your website? Not going to spend a ton of time here – but want to hit this point hard. Your website should be “fresh” just like your showroom. Again, consumer hat on – how do you feel if you walk into a store and it looks just like it did last time you were there months ago? That question is rhetorical as it answers itself. Make changes to your website home page imagery at the least – often! Extra credit if your website is updated 2X or 3X more often than your physical showroom. Extra extra points if you are incorporating imagery from your physical showroom in those web freshening efforts!

To recap:

  • Shop yourself. Have others do it and report their findings. (Be open to feedback…). Fix what you find. Do it again. Repeat.
  • Update your staff on your digital and web activities each week. Make sure they are ready!
  • Deliver a fresh experience – everywhere.

We all love what is the latest and greatest. But many allow that shiny appeal to distract from the basics we are not “owning” day-in and day-out. You continue to focus on nailing the basics, then that shiny new tech investment has a much greater chance to be the home-run you expect it to be.

Here is the link to the article:

Retail on!