Get some EPO for your retail business

I started in retail in December 1985 as a Trainee Area Manager with Truworths – the company that became involved with Country Road/Sportsgirl in Australia. That is, a major, sophisticated retailer.

Yet, never in all my time working in retail did I once have a discussion with anyone about space allocation index, GMROII or stockturns. The only things that mattered were sales and shrinkage.

Today I am advising retailers how to pay attention to those things (the ‘science’ of retail) in addition to the feel of the store (the art of retail). 

What has changed? Or is it simply that consultants are making things appear difficult to keep themselves gainfully employed? There is a little bit of truth in that allegation, but mostly, the world has changed:

  • Competition is everywhere – and it is more sophisticated.
  • Supply chains are globalised – and suppliers are becoming competitors.
  • eCommerce is forcing convergence of margins.
  • Consumers are more sophisticated – and have wrestled away the power from the retailer.

Back in my day there was someone worrying about margins and stockturns – but being a retail chain they did not bother the foot soldiers with that. (Which is a great pity because employees need bigger, better challenges to be engaged with the business and chains are missing the opportunity to do so.)

Almost every human endeavour is becoming increasingly sophisticated:

  • In motor car racing teams increasingly seek small advantages by fine tuning microscopic detail.
  • In SEO it is not about key words anymore. It is about key phrases. And not just key phrases but key phrases for specific geographies; fine-tuned for different browsers such as IE or Firefox.
  • In footy you have EPO and Peptides and ice-baths.
  • Retailers, even mom-and-pop stories, must now become concerned with GMROII and a host of ugly acronyms.

Just like the best footy players are the ones who also have instinct, in your retail business you also need to have a feel for the art of being a merchant.

But the days of opening the store, chatting to a few customers and calling a few favourite suppliers to replenish the stock are now long gone.

You need EPO and peptides and anabolic steroids – because everybody else is using it and if you don’t you are at a serious disadvantage.

Just ask Lance Armstrong. (Except that for you it is legal.)

Dennis Price

GANADOR: Architects of high-performance retail environments.

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