25 retail basics that builds the foundation of success


Good retailers execute these fundamentals well. There is of course always an exception to each ‘rule’, but they are not as common as you think. It is tempting to dismiss something as theory because one disagrees with it, but for every person who denies the validity of these fundamentals there are hundreds of successful retailers who simply just get on with doing it.


1.      Staff are critical to your success:

o   Teach them to serve well

o   Use them to sell actively

o   Reward them effectively

o   Control your expenses with good rosters and productive staff, not stingy pay scales

2.      Use your own time to add value and manage – not only to serve behind the counter. (Take regular mini-breaks if you can’t take proper leave. Your customers will love you for it.)


3.      Focus your core product range so that you:

o   Become an expert

}o   Develop bargaining power with suppliers

o   Become known as the ‘go to place’ for… something

4.      Stocktake annually at least (even a rolling stocktake) – no exception

5.      Buy your stock to a Budget (OTB)


6.      Consolidate price points (avoid price point proliferation) for each sub-category: Best, Value, Average, Good, Premium

7.      Never discount unless a product falls below the benchmark stockturn rate

8.      There are over 20 different types of price reductions you can negotiate with your suppliers – fight hard for your business


9.      Doing the same old will get the same old results – be brave, be different

10.   If it works, don’t change because you are tired of it

11.   Use your suppliers and work with their calendars and resources for marketing activities

12.   Community engagement should be at the core of your activities – and the sales will follow


13.   Good displays sell silently: visual merchandising matters

14.   Be smart with product/category locations

o   Be consistent for customer convenience – but don’t be afraid to experiment

o   Convenience products in convenient locations

o   Destination products in destination locations

o   Promotional and high-margin products for the dance-floor

15.   Even the dirtiest, poorest, most ignorant customer does not love a dirty store – they will leave as soon as there is an alternative

16.   Your fitout should be SUBSTANTIALLY be refreshed every SEVEN years. And NOTHING should be allowed to be older than TEN years.


17.   Allocate product space proportional to their Gross Margin contribution as far as practicable.

18.   Reduce non-selling space to <15% of GLA (sub-let if you can or innovate a new use)

19.   Target a benchmark floor space productivity (in shopping centres, for example aim for more than $8000/sqm based on annual sales)


20.   Systematise everything to minimise errors and risk. From opening and closing hours though to how you cash up.

21.   Pay your bills on time then you can demand the same respect.

22.   Communicate when you have issues – ask for assistance from anybody and everybody and NEVER stop learning. (There is a big difference between TWENTY years’ experience and ONE years’ experience twenty times over.)

23.   Don’t worry about the competition – do your own thing and do it well

24.   Make sure your system (POS/Database) is 100% current and that you can make accurate, meaningful decisions about your agency.

25.   Measure all the metrics that matter and make decisions accordingly

Of course there are a few more and we look forward to hearing from readers what they may want to add to the list. But in summary, there is a final, over-arching rule that applies.


But for reasons that escape me entirely, too few actually do it.

Dennis can be reached on dennis@ganador.com.au with any questions on any of these topics.