Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Packaging Your Store: Why The Wrapping Sells The Product

Your store is one big package for the products and merchandise you have inside.

It's the package that sells the merchandise.

Let's say I give you a present. Well, not really - just in your imagination. Play along, OK?

I'm giving you a present. It's not big. You can hold it in your hand. It's wrapped in an exquisite Japanese-style handmade paper. The creamy gold-flecked paper is complimented with a gold fabric ribbon. The handmade tag bears your name in elegant calligraphy. A light floral scent wafts from the package.

You're absolutely thrilled to receive such a lovely gift. Imagine all the care and attention that went into wrapping this special present. You are so touched by the gesture.

Especially since I haven't even met you!

The presentation and packaging of the gift matters.

A lot.

You don't even know what is inside yet, and you have formed an impression about both the gift and gift giver. Even a small token gift - a chocolate, or a bar of soap, will feel exquisite and special when wrapped in a fabulous package.

You assume the gift-giver is caring, generous, and thoughtful. (Which, of course, in this case, is true.) You believe that care and attention has gone into choosing and preparing the gift.

The next time you hear from me, you remember the gift. All those positive emotions and associations come back to you.

Now imagine I gave you the same gift.

This time, instead of the handmade paper, it is just wrapped in some leftover colourful wrapping paper I had at home.

No ribbon. No tag.

It looks OK, but nothing special. When you open it up, you are pleased to find a small box of your favorite mouth-watering chocolates. You are happy I thought of you.

The pleasant experience lasts only as long as the chocolates. You might remember the experience the next time we meet, or you might not.

Missing in this gift-giving encounter is the anticipation, the emotion, the assumptions and associations attached to the packaging in the first example.

Let's imagine again...

Instead of a gift wrapped package, I hand you a crumpled paper shopping bag. You wonder if I'm handing you my trash.

Inside, you are surprised to find your favorite chocolates. I obviously didn't have time to wrap the gift, or perhaps I didn't want to spend the money on 'frivolous' wrapping.

You make assumptions about me. Perhaps you think I don't care much about you, or that I'm cheap. Worse than no association, or emotion, now you have a negative association about my sloppiness and lack of attention.

Can you see where I'm going with this?

Shoppers make assumptions about your product based on your store presentation and appearance.

The package for your merchandise should create anticipation about what is inside. The presentation needs to evoke positive associations and emotions. The store exterior, layout and visual merchandising should be designed to make shopping exciting and memorable.

Is your store a gift that is packaged with attention and care?

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Visual Merchandising Is Crucial For Retail Success

Visual merchandising is becoming increasingly pivotal for retail success. As retail becomes more and more competitive, shoppers have more options than ever before.

Shoppers aren't just shopping for products, they're buying experiences. The stores that put more effort into making an exciting, and emotional experience for customers, are the ones that will be successful.

In Canada, effective merchandising is becoming even more critical to retail success as retailers struggle to find staff. Not only is it hard to find qualified employees, it's challenging to find anyone at all.

This means that the people retailers employ will find their jobs more demanding as they work longer hours, and work harder with fewer team members to share the load. Employees will also be less skilled in serving customers.

I went shopping this week with a list of items to buy to wear to some upcoming events. I visited at least a dozen stores - buying in about half of them. Each store displayed prominent help-wanted signs. And in every store, not one sales associate tried to actively sell to me.

No one suggested additional merchandise. No asked me what I was looking for. I was assisted with the fitting room, staff were knowledgeable when I asked questions, and they were all generally helpful and pleasant. But I had to approach them. In some stores, the sales people barely acknowledged me.

I was obviously spending money, as I was carrying a few shopping bags. Yet, for the most part, I had to navigate my way through the stores, and find what I needed on my own.

All I had to rely on were the visual merchandising cues. To find what I was looking for, I had to depend on visual clues to tell me:

Where is the new fall merchandise located?
Where would I find pants?
What is my size? Where is my size?
What merchandise coordinates with these pants?
Where are the sale items? Is there anything there worth looking at?

Most of the stores did a pretty good job of organizing their merchandise so that I could find my way around easily. In the ones that were confusing; I looked around and left. Maybe I could have stumbled across a great find, but it wasn't even worth looking.

The most frustrating experience was with the department store, which was disorganized, had empty shelves, and had few visual cues to direct me from one area to the next. The department store also had the fewest sales associates available for assistance. It's no wonder department stores have struggled for survival.

If retailers are going to survive in this competitive market, visual merchandising will become even more vital to their business. Store owners need to focus on visual merchandising strategies that sell their products. If they don't, they won't be around long.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Why Your Retail Store Needs Drama

Great retail is like theatre.

Opening the door and stepping inside a store, is like the curtain going up on stage.

Shopping is a play we all participate in. Even those who say they don't like it. Great stores entertain us, share new ideas, make political statements, express our values, and then send us home with more stuff than we intended to buy.

A great play starts out with a great story. Just reading that story on stage doesn't make great theatre. There are many other elements that make a story into a dramatic production.

In retail, the story is the product.

You might have the best product since the ipod, but just putting it on a shelf doesn't mean people will buy it. To
successfully sell a product today you need to create a shopping experience for consumers that they enjoy. If they don't like it, they'll go somewhere else.

In theatre and retail, drama and entertainment are created with the same elements. You need:
a great setting, great lighting and great talent.


A great setting creates a mood, an image. A place for the action to happen. The setting is integral to the story.

A setting can be created on stage with all the trimmings and details - a complete re-creation of another place. Or it can
be a mere suggestion of a place - a single chair, painted backdrops. The audience still gets the picture. Their
imagination fills in the rest.

The same is true in retail. Some stores are very elaborate in their design and merchandising, with every tiny aspect considered. Others
use paint and a few carefully chosen pieces of furniture to suggest an atmosphere.

If you get the setting wrong for the story, the audience is confused. In retail, this is like selling designer clothes in
a discount store. Linoleum tile, garish signs and crowded aisles won't interest someone who wants to buy a suit by
Giorgio Armani.

That shopper wants to see a small boutique, lots of floor space, maybe a couple of armchairs and a coffee table. The
floor might be hardwood, or perhaps decorative stone tile. It would be crazy for Walmart or Zellers to try to create an upscale mood like this. Their customers would immediately assume the products were too expensive, without even setting foot inside.


An important part of creating an effective and dramatic setting is lighting. A professional theatre production would never be done without proper lighting. However, many retailers do not understand the role of lighting in their stores.

I saw a high-end theatre production that used only minimal props, and created scenes with pantomimed actions and clever lighting. A powerful scene that I will never forget was created with absolutely no props. A rectangle of light on the stage floor suggested a grave. As actors went through the motions of throwing shovelfuls of dirt onto the grave, the light gradually dimmed. The scene ended when the light had faded leaving the stage was completely black.

Retail lighting can be equally powerful. The price range of the stores products are suggested by the levels of light. Discount stores are lit with bright fluorescent bulbs, giving an even level of light throughout the store.

The overall level of light in the store is called 'ambient' lighting. It is the lighting that sets the mood for the store.

Expensive boutiques have a lower level of ambient lighting. They use accent lighting to highlight merchandise and important areas of the
store. These are usually spotlights, used to draw your attention to displays. Because your eye is drawn to light, you will naturally move through the store to these 'pools' of light.

A mid-priced shop with use a combination of these two types of lighting.

Unconsciously, as a shopper, you will get a message about the value of the products because of how they are lit.

For example, an expensive product lit the wrong way, will cause a shopper to assume the product is poor quality and overpriced.

A successful retailer needs to make sure that the lighting is consistent with the setting and the story.


A great theatre production also has the right talent. Only the right person can create a believable character. An actor's build, appearance, ability and experience are all part of what makes him or her the right choice for a role.

A successful theatre production needs a strong team of people. Each one needs to be able to create a convincing and powerful character. They also need to work well together as a group.

In retail you also need great talent. What would happen if retailers thought of their staff as the cast of a production? Maybe they would be more careful in hiring just the right people. Retail staff need to clearly understand their role. They need to know the story. They need to work well as a team.

Both in theatre and in retail, a cast member who comes across as phony or insincere will ruin an otherwise great

A successful theatrical or retail production needs to have all three of these elements working together - a great setting, great lighting and great talent.

If any one of them is out of tune with the others, the audience leaves disappointed - and may not ever come back.

What are you doing to create a great retail production?
Please share your comments.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Learn from a Retail Legend

This week I received an invitation from Ian Portsmouth, of PROFIT magazine, to ask a question of John Forzani, the sporting-goods retail king. (Sport Chek, Sport Mart, Coast Mountain Sports)

Ian says, "PROFIT magazine runs a regular feature called "Ask the Legends" in which high-profile Canadian entrepreneurs answer questions submitted by the general business public. Recent guests have included Jim Balsillie of RIM and Harry Rosen."

Forzani will be the next guest entrepreneur. So, if you have a burning question you would like to ask this retail giant, you can send it in by email to Legends@PROFIT.rogers.com

Forzani is Founder and Chairman of the Board of The Forzani Group Ltd. and a former Calgary Stampeder offensive lineman. He is currently Chairman of the Calgary Stampeders.

So, ask your question.

You just might learn something. And, you get to see your name in print - welll, digital print.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

BC Retail Week 2007

I'm taking a break from writing a regular merchandising article this week to tell you about some other retail resources and current issues.

I just spent all day yesterday at Retail BC's Passion for Retail conference. It was an engaging, high energy and informative event.

I met some great people who have some innovative services and resources for retailers:

Warren from myHRtool.com
This is a scheduling solution that helps you manage staff and reduce the amount of time that you spend planning and adjusting staff schedules. Definitely an option to investigate if you have more that 2 or 3 staff members.

Trevor from igeno consulting
Are you a larger store with more than one location, and a lot of data to manage? Excel spreadsheets and reports taking up too much of your time? Igeno can help you reduce this admin time, and create clear visual reports that make sense of all those numbers. Check out their case studies on their website. And Trevor is great to talk to.

Michael from Eigen
If you aren't using gift cards yet for your business, you might be missing out. Gift cards are great ways to offer more for your customers. Take a look and see if gift cards are right for your store. Eigen provides gift cards, and other solutions for retailers.

In the conference sessions, much of the talk was about staffing. In BC, it is becoming harder and harder to find good retail staff. There are help wanted signs, it seems, on every street. But here it is only beginning.

In Alberta, the shortage of retail staff has become a crisis. Here's an article from last fall about the staff shortage that is cutting across all industries. In some communities, stores have been force to reduce hours and services to cope with the lack of available workers.

Businesses have to find new and creative ways to find and retain good staff. Retailers need to create great environments that attract not only customers, but employees. Creating a dynamic, motivating and fun environment becomes even more important than it was before.

Store owners and managers need to think about creating stores that people want to be in
- both to shop and to work.

How do people feel when they are in your store?
How are you going to set the mood for your store?

The tone is set in the way everything works together - your people, culture, visual identity, layout and merchandising. The retailers who get this mix right for their customers will be the ones who succeed in this increasingly competitive environment.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Is Your Merchandising Holding Your Business Back?

Are you happy with the number of customers you get each day? Are you satisfied with the daily sales you are generating?

If your traffic and sales levels are right where you want them to be, then you can stop reading right now. Take yourself out for coffee and bring a good book. Pat yourself on the back for doing a great job. Then relax and enjoy your coffee.

The rest of us want more customers. Need more customers.

So, what are you doing about it?

Here's some examples of situations that you might identify with:

- You sign up for a newsletter to help you in your business, but get too backlogged in email and don't confirm your subscription.

- You buy or download a book to help you in your merchandising, but don't finish reading it.

- You read a great business book, or attend a seminar, but get too busy to implement any of the ideas when you get back to the store.

- You hire a consultant but don't provide the information they need to help you with your business.

- You place an ad and hope for tons of new traffic.

- You change your window display and hope people will notice and come in.

We look for help and new ideas or strategies, but then we don't follow up. We get busy, distracted by the day to day business. We don't make regular time for the strategic work. We don't put a priority on doing the things that are going to move us forward to success.

We spend our time doing the things that keep business running as usual. Business as usual keeps us where we are now.

To move forward we have to make a habit of taking new actions. The two key words in that sentence are 'habit' and 'action'.

Make a habit every day, or at least every week, to take an action that moves you forward.

What's missing is a consistent plan, and a method of measuring progress.

Here's a simple, five step action plan that you, or your staff can start to implement today.

1. Choose one under performing department or section of your store that you would like to improve.

2. Make a record of where you are right now. Write down your current daily & weekly sales results for the products in that department. Take photos. Draw a rough floor plan of your current fixture layout and product merchandising.

3. For one week, watch this department carefully. What do you notice? How many shoppers move through this department? What percentage make a purchase? How long do they spend in that department? What do they touch? What questions do they ask?

4. Based on your observations, make changes to the department. Make your merchandise more accessible and attractive. Create new displays. Add signage. Move slow selling merchandise to more prominent locations. Mark down merchandise that you need to get rid of.

5. Watch this department for another week. What do you notice? What changes worked? What needs to be improved?

At the end of the week, go back to step 4.

Repeating this simple plan consistently, will keep your business moving forward to success!

If you have some success with this action plan, send me your results. Your story or before/after pics may be chosen to be featured here on my blog.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Free Teleseminar - Five Merchandising Mistakes Retailers Make: And What To Do About Them

It's not too late! You can still sign up for this free teleclass. There are a few spots left.

You could be losing valuable sales because you are making these glaring merchandising mistakes.

- learn what mistakes you are might be making in your store
- find out how your customers perceive your merchandising
- discover how you can correct merchandising mistakes
- learn how merchandising can improve sales

Monday, February 19
1:00 pm PST

I am keeping this call small so that it will be personal and allow a brief time for questions at the end of the teleseminar. You'll get the most benefit from the call if you can join us live.

If you just can't fit it in, or get called away at the last minute, I will record the call and send you the link to download the recording.

Sign up here!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Why You Need to Know Your Customers Better

When was the last time you took a customer out for coffee?

I know. You're busy. You might have trouble remembering when you last had a real lunch break. You're managing a store, and there is always something that needs to be done yesterday.

If you are not regularly spending time with customers, you're missing the boat. And I don't mean just helping customers on the sales floor. I mean getting to know them better and asking for feedback about your store.

Independent retailers, like you, have the advantage of being close to the consumer. Often you know many of your customers personally. One of the most important things you can do to attract more customers, is to build on this strength.

Work to improve your relationships with your existing customers. You will learn more about what your customers need, and they will start to tell their friends about you.

Knowing who your customers are and what they are passionate about is crucial to getting more shoppers in the door. Too often I speak to retailers who have no idea who their customers really are.

You cannot appeal to everyone. If you try, you will end up with a watered-down store identity and experience that doesn't appeal to anyone. You'll be just another generic store that looks like all the others.

To create a shopping experience that is truly unique and exciting, you need to know your customers and what they want. Then you can create a dynamic store atmosphere that your shoppers will love!

The best way to get to know what your customers want is to ask them. Start asking your customers about what they think. Make it a habit to ask your customers questions.

This works for two reasons. First, knowing what your shoppers want helps you create a store that gets attention.

Second, questioning is a great sales technique. Customers want you to be genuinely interested in them. By asking questions, you begin to develop a relationship with the shopper. The sales process begins to flow naturally as you get to know the customer better. She doesn't feel pressured when her needs are the focus, not yours.

Your favorite customers will be your best source of feedback. Your goal should be to attract more customers like them. Focusing on your best customers will help you develop a clear vision and direction.

Ask your best customers what they think of your store. Ask them what they like. Ask them what you could improve. Make it clear that you appreciate their feedback. If you are asking for a lot of information, or asking them to write down their responses, think about offering a small gift or discount as a thank you.

When you receive new products, ask your customers for their opinion. Tell them you are trying a new product and would like to know what they think of it.

You could create an elaborate system with suggestion cards, or surveys. Often in a small store, coming up with a process and system for soliciting feedback is just too complex. Before long you are bogged down in setting up the system and frustrated because it is difficult to get shoppers to respond. Soon you've set the whole idea aside and have decided that getting more feedback from your customers is just too hard.

Instead, just start talking to your customers even more than you are now. In a small store, you have the advantage of having a personal relationship with the customer. In a chain store, you can also create a personal relationship and solicit feedback, but the disadvantage is that it is harder to get that feedback to the decision makers.

You can translate feedback into new ideas almost immediately. You don't have to go through a long approval process, or write a proposal. To get feedback, just get in the habit of asking questions and talking with your customers. Teach your sales staff to do the same thing. Keep a notebook to jot down customer comments throughout the day. Review the book once a week and brainstorm new ideas.

When you have a new idea, ask a few of your best customers what they think about it. Get them to help you make that idea even better.

Try having a coffee with a different customer each week. See what happens to your business!

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Retail Lighting Resources

Retail Notes: Often retailers that I meet ask me about lighting and where to find lighting resources. A few weeks ago, I compiled a list of lighting links on a blog I've been working on at Retail Mob.

Here's a list of the lighting posts.

Leave a comment here to let me know how you like them, or to submit other resources you use.

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Is Your Merchandising Preventing Sales?

Has this ever happened to you?

You are shopping and something on a high shelf catches your eye. You'd like to know the price, but you can't reach it. You look around for a clerk to help you, but don't see anyone. You try standing on tiptoe, maybe even with one foot on the bottom shelf, to see if you can reach, but you can't.

Or, maybe the product isn't on a high shelf. Maybe it's in a locked display case.

Maybe you can reach the merchandise, but the price sticker has fallen off.

If you are really interested, you might look a little harder for someone to help you. Maybe you'll even wait at a counter for the cashier to finish with the line of customers.

The more difficult it gets, the more likely it is that you'll decide that finding out the price is just not worth the trouble.

These situations create barriers that prevent shoppers from buying.

You might be saying to yourself, "Yes, but I don't have those problems in my store. My products are all accessible."

There are many ways your merchandising can be preventing shoppers from buying, and you don't even realize it.

The barrier in your store could be poor lighting.
It could be a confusing store layout.
It could be the lack of product information.
It could be ineffective signage.
It could be poor merchandise placement.
It could be ineffective displays.

There are three steps to eliminating these barriers in your store.

1. Take stock.

Find out how you are doing right now.

Listen to your customers.
What do they need help with? What are they asking for? What frustrates them? Keep a notebook of what your customers are saying.

Next, take a look at your store performance.

-- What are your current sales levels? Are you meeting your daily sales goals?

-- What is the size of an average transaction in dollars? in number of units?

-- How many shoppers come into your store daily? How many make a purchase?

-- What are your sales per square foot?

-- What are your sales per staff hour?

-- What merchandise is selling vs. not selling?

-- What areas of the store are selling vs. not selling?

Create a chart or spreadsheet to keep track of your performance on a regular basis.

2. Take action.

Walk through your store and evaluate it critically, from front to back. What can you do to improve your merchandising?

You might need to create new displays.
You might need to improve signage and product information.
You might need to rotate merchandise.
You might need to adjust the lighting.
You might need to improve your store layout.

Do whatever it takes to make it easier for your customer to shop. Make your plan and implement it.

3. Take measurements.

Now, go back to your store performance. Measure and record your results.

-- What effect did your changes have?

-- What are your customers saying?

-- How many people stop to take a look?

-- How much time do they spend at each display?

-- Do they touch the merchandise, or just move on?

You will find that some things will work, some will work better, some won't work at all. You can't tell unless you are measuring results.

You might create a great display and hardly sell anything. It might be the signage, it might be the wrong product, it might be a bad location.

Sometimes you'll get it right, sometimes you won't.

There are general merchandising and sales principles that work, but each store is also unique. You have an individual mix of customers, products, location, staff and all the other things that make up your business.

Getting the mix exactly right is like cooking.

First, you follow a recipe. Then gradually you make small changes to adjust the recipe to your taste. You get feedback from your partner, family or guests. Each time you make the dish you tweak it a little, until eventually you get it right - and it becomes your own.

In a store, you follow the merchandising recipe and then make little changes until you get the right taste for your customers.

To eliminate barriers to sales, be vigilant.
Make small adjustments to your merchandising, measure your results, and start again.

Don't let your merchandising keep your products sitting on the shelves!

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

What Do Your Customers Really Need?

When was the last time you bought tires? If you're like most people, shopping for tires is not the most exciting experience.

We buy tires because we have to.
We are not usually thrilled at shelling out a large chunk of money for something as un-glamorous as tires. But we do it anyway.


We think we need tires.
But, what we really need is safety.

When your mechanic tells you your old tires are unreliable, even dangerous, your priorities suddenly change. You put aside other plans, like buying a new plasma TV, because your need to be safe on the road is more important.

What's all this talk about tires? Isn't this an article about customer needs?

Customers don't need what you are trying to sell them.
They do, however, have deep, universal, human needs that they are trying to satisfy. You will be able to market and sell more effectively if you can identify the needs of your customers, and how your products helps to satisfy those needs..

Sometimes, it gets a little tricky to sort out.

Once you realize you need tires, how do you decide which ones to buy? Well, if safety is such a priority, you would buy the high-end tires with the best performance in all kinds of weather conditions.

However, buying the highest quality tires, may threaten with your financial security, leaving you short of resources to meet other basic needs.

On the other hand, perhaps your need for financial security is satisfied, and you can afford the high-performance tires. Your need for status may be your primary motivator. You might decide that new rims for your Audi help you satisfy your need for status, esteem and respect.

We are all trying to satisfy common human needs.
Often, we buy things to satisfy those needs.

Abraham Maslow developed the theory of a hierarchy of human needs.
He believed that people have five levels of needs:

1. Physiological (biological)
2. Safety
3. Love/Belonging
4. Status (Esteem)
5. Actualization.

According to his theory, we must have our basic, lower level, physiological needs met before we can move on to higher level needs.

So, when it comes to buying tires, we will not be concerned with status, unless our lower level need for safety and security is satisfied.

What do your customers really need?

Does your product meet basic physical needs? Many consumer products connect with our needs for love, belonging and status. More and more, customers are searching for products that help them in their search for self-actualization and spiritual meaning.

Take some time to consider where your products fit in.
Like tires, your product line may meet customer needs at more than one level. When you understand those needs, you will be more effective at creating marketing and promotions that appeal to your target market.

Your customers don't want you to try to sell them what they don't need.
They do want you to understand their needs, and help them find what they are looking for.

Want to know more about creating a store that meets customer needs? Download Attracting Customers now. It's free.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Is Your Store Failing to Connect with Customers?

Imagine yourself walking past a row of shops on a street. Some of the stores you walk by without even a glance. But one catches your attention. Something in the window makes you stop for a moment to take a look.

Something has grabbed you and pulled you out of your conversation, or train of thought, and stopped you. Just briefly. Long enough to think, "I like that," or "That looks interesting."

The next thing you know, you see a couple of other interesting things in the window. You look past the display into the store. You think, "I'll check it out for a minute."

You open the door and step inside. You love what you see. "What a great place! I'll look around for a minute." You see something that would look amazing in your house. You move from one display to the next, imagining what your life would look like with some of these beautiful things.

You feel relaxed. Happy. You love the atmosphere. This is what you want in your life. This is something you've been looking for. You're falling in love.

What makes this store different? Why do you like it so much?


The store connects and resonates with you. It fits with your imagined ideal of what you would like for your life.

Yes, the product is something you would love to have. But it's not just the product. It's how you feel. You feel more beautiful, sexier, happier, or more fun when you imagine this product as yours.

How you feel about the product is influenced by the store atmosphere. It puts you in a mood you enjoy. Not only do you like the merchandise, but you like the idea of shopping here. You want to be here. You want to come back. You want to buy here.

Are you making this connection with your shoppers? Does your store resonate with them?

A store that resonates with shoppers:

1. Isn't for everyone.

We are all unique. We all have different tastes. What one person likes, another dislikes. If you try to appeal to everyone, you will end up with a store that doesn't attract anybody. A successful store appeals to a specific group of people with certain tastes and interests in common.

Determine who your best customers are and work to attract to others like them.

2. Has something their customers need.

Face it. Shoppers can probably find a product like yours somewhere else. They don't need your product. What they need is something else. Maybe it's security. Enjoyment. Relief from stress. One of the most common needs that people are seeking to satisfy is the need for status, or respect.

Figure out what your customers really need. Then sell it to them.

3. Has personality.

A store just like all the others is boring. A great store has character and flair. It's personality is conveyed through color, design, fixtures, lighting, signage, advertising and people. It has a quality that is unique and different.

Being different is a risk. But in retail, being the same as everyone else, is certain death.

Express your personality. And do it well.

If you want your store to resonate with your customers, show them what you have in common. Show them you understand them and what they need. Romance them. Make them feel beautiful, sexy, important, safe or happy.

Sounds like a relationship, doesn't it? It is.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Are You Struggling to Create End-of-Season Retail Displays?

Retail Notes:
I received an email recently that mentioned how difficult it is to create an inspiring display window at the end of a season.

Yes. It is difficult to come continually come up with new and inspiring ideas. Especially when you are not inspired yourself.

You're tired of the merchandise in your store that you have seen it every day for the past several weeks.

You're disappointed that a product you anticipated would be a hot seller, is still sitting on the shelves.

You're frustrated by the dwindling product selection, making it difficult to create a dynamic display.

You're attitude is like a virus. You don't realize it, but your customers will catch it.

You need to be excited by what you sell.

As a retailer, that is what you do. Your job is to present merchandise in a way that inspires and attracts. You need to make each product in your store desirable. You need to infect shoppers with your enthusiasm.

1. Change your perception.

Do you see that product sitting on the shelf as a leftover that no one wanted? Or is it an undiscovered gem that is waiting to be found by the right person?

You need to make that gem shine. You need to find that person who is looking for what you have to offer.

2. Present the product well.

It may be that the merchandise hasn't sold because of the presentation. Create a dazzling display with complimentary merchandise, if you can. Of course, that is part of the problem to begin with. It is hard to find enough merchandise that looks good together when some of it has sold.

Maybe one product, featured on its own, can make a strong display. With great signage and great lighting it could work very well.

Instead of other merchandise, perhaps you can find props that would help tell a story with your product.

There are lots of options - the trick is to get creative. Which brings us to the next point.

3. Get inspired. Look for new ideas.

It's easy to get tired of dealing with the same space and merchandise day in and day out. It can get hard to come up with new ideas.

It's time for YOU to go out shopping. Shopping for ideas. Take a walk at lunch, or after work. Take a look at what other stores are doing. What is new and exciting? What colours are being used?

Browse some magazines. How are products arranged for ads? What trends are you seeing?

It is part of your job to stay in touch with what is happening around you. Really, that is what you are selling - not just a product, but an idea. You're selling a feeling, a mood that your product embodies.

You need to be inspired to inspire your customers.

4. Get something new. Fast.

When I worked in retail stores, I learned that one of the best things you can do to keep customers engaged is to always have something new arriving.

Don't just buy all your merchandise a few times a year. Keep a few new things coming in every few weeks. This is especially true for any kind of fashion merchandise.

5. Move the old stuff out.

You need to turn merchandise quickly. Product that hangs on the rack, or sits on the shelf, is money that could be re-invested in something new.

Put the merchandise in a prominent position. Mark it down. Create a sales contest or special promotion.

Just do whatever you have to do to move the old product out.

The worst thing you can do is to allow yourself to lose motivation at the end of the season.
Don't just move the products you are tired of to a corner and forget about them.

Instead, get excited about what you have to offer. Your customers will sense it and feel the same. Better yet - throw a party and invite them to join you!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Interviewed for the Globe and Mail

Retail News and Notes: I should have posted this earlier. I was interviewed by the Globe and Mail for an article called 7 rules for retail success by Nicholas Dinka.

Check it out!