Open up your Retail Toolboox for 2019
Furniture World Magazine
Volume 148 NO.6 November/December
By Gordon Hecht on
Six retail tools you should take out of your tool box to make sure physical assets, policies and procedures can do a good job for you in 2019.
I freely admit that I am not the handiest person when it comes to home repairs or improvements. Sure, I have a lot of tools, and my neighbors love to borrow them. They often tell me my tools look like brand new. Some are even in the factory wrap! That’s probably because when it comes to repairs, the hardest working tool in my tool box is my Visa Card.
You probably already know that having a brick and mortar store is like owning a house. You have to constantly clean, paint, dust, replace flooring, and generally keep the physical structure in good shape so it doesn't lose value. The same can be said for your business in its entirety. Non-physical assets and functions have to be maintained, too. These include your sales process, advertising, customer service, phone greeting, and even your website.
- Sales Process Tools: It’s easy to get in a rut with your sales process. Retail is often referred as a numbers game, meaning that if you don’t close the customer in front of you, there will probably be one right behind them! That was true 30 years ago, and still true today –– except for many retailers, incoming store traffic is declining, and it is more expensive than ever to bring a shopper to your store. In more rural markets it costs around $40 in advertising money per guest and in some major metro markets, it tops $100! If you don’t believe me, look at your traffic count for the first eight months of the year and divide it into your total advertising spend.
- Financing Tools: Retail Sales Associates have more tools than ever today for on-the-spot closing. Money in the bank is no longer an issue with extended FREE financing, and even those shoppers with less than stellar credit can use second chance financing. Merchandise selection is better than ever! Most stores will have two to four perfect items to solve customers’ needs and wants. And information on your products and your competitors is only a finger click away.
But just like my Makita 18-Volt LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless half inch XPT Drill/Driver Kit with Two 2.0 AH Batteries Charger, many retail selling tools are left in the dark and never taken out of the factory box. A recent survey for Labor Day 2018 results showed that over half of the stores that responded used extended financing for ONE or LESS sales over a four day period. Sure, financing comes at a cost, but history shows that shoppers who use financing spend $300 more than cash customers.
But just like my Makita 18-Volt LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless half inch XPT Drill/Driver Kit with Two 2.0 AH Batteries Charger, many retail selling tools are left in the dark and never taken out of the factory box.
- Tools To Step Up & Down: Even if you HATE using financing, is your sales team able to both step-up customers and also step them down to lower priced merchandise? Some sales floors are patrolled by BIG GAME HUNTERS who want the big sale, or nothing. But at $40-$100 an up, wouldn’t you rather they sold something! Other stores have Nervous Nellies who are satisfied with selling the ADV items, and never demonstrate essentials like the THREE Ps (Power Bases, Pillows, and Protectors). You’ll know this is your team if your adjustable attachment rate is below 25 percent (on item count, not dollars) and less than 70 percent on mattress protection and pillows.
- Housekeeping Tools: Tools like a broom, Windex, and paper towels can help keep your store entrance looking good, if you use them daily or even several times a day! Just as you have to sweep the dust from the sidewalk in front of your store, you need to sweep the cobwebs off your WEBSITE. In today’s world of research, shoppers are visiting the click before they head out to the brick. In fact, if your website isn’t pretty, exciting, and impactful, people will rarely include you on their shopping mission.
Updating your website with tools such as holiday sales banners, special pricing and coupons will help drive interest in your store and INCREASE phone and foot traffic.
- Website Tools: Updating your website with tools such as holiday sales banners, special pricing and coupons will help drive interest in your store and INCREASE phone and foot traffic.
On that same Labor Day survey about financing, 33 percent to 40 percent of retailers with a goal of topping 2017 sales, did not add in any special information or pricing for Labor Day, one of the prime selling periods of the year. That’s like trying to replace the kitchen sink with your bare hands. It's messy, difficult, and probably not achievable.
- Management Tools: Today my greatest home repair wish came true! It’s raining bu
ckets, so I have a valid excuse for not attempting any outdoor repairs or projects! However, I am going to clean my old tools, and read the instructions for use of my new ones. I am looking at every tool in my possession and disposing of those that are worn, ineffective, and broken. If you’re having a slow day at your business, why not do the same with your business tools. Update your website, or hire someone new who can! Spend time with your sales team reviewing discovery and closing questions that WORK. And while you are at it, how about trashing some old tools that served you well in the past, like ultra-restrictive return policies and hackneyed store greetings, now way past their prime. Just like the feeling I get when successfully replacing a light bulb (Look Honey! I got it straight in the first time!) you’ll revel in the joy of making your retail world a little brighter.
How about trashing some old tools that served you well in the past, like ultra-restrictive return policies and hackneyed store greetings.
About Gordon Hecht: Gordon Hecht is a business growth and development consultant to the retail home furnishings industry. You can reach him at Gordon.firstname.lastname@example.org
Read other articles by Gordon Hecht