US Retail Consultant Bob Phibbs has come up with his list of 10 mistakes independent retailers make. How do you stack up?
- They hire the exact same person as themselves. This works if all you want to talk to is people like you, but having a balanced crew lets you speak to all four of the personality types.
- They fill their stores with merchandise based on "gut feeling." Rather than having a system to replace the sellers as well as remove the dogs, their floor is littered with duplicates that leads to the merchandise being dated, shopworn and inhibits their ability to repurchase best sellers.
- They have no sales process. This leads to customers doing all the work and employees that become slackers.
- They display their merchandise with no flare, creativity or system. Stack it on the shelves and hope it sells - or at best a handwritten starburst sign with a price. Remember: just because it's cheap doesn't make it want-able.
- If they have a website, it frequently is lacking in the most crucial details - rendering it invisible to potential customers. Because owners don't understand the Internet, many throw up their arms and settle or tell themselves its great, when it misses on the most basic of criteria.
- They train by crisis, instead of logic. This often means the best employees leave quickly and the worst are rewarded.
- They do not review employees to high standards. This allows the weak to thrive on the owner's dime.
- The only quiver in their bow is to discount their merchandise, price match and participate in multiple discount programs in a wrong-headed belief it will grow sales. This robs profits and often means they're putting money into the business, instead of taking it out.
- They have little or no presence on social media, which means they are unaware of what customers are saying about their business.
- They whine that it's the economy, government, or their online competitors who are ruining them - never taking responsibility that it's up to them to make a profit.
I like the list - probably because I concur. Having said that, these are all operational errors - easily fixed.
A bigger question may be - what are the strategic errors made by independent retailers? (Besides not hiring us as consultants of course ;-)