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To Compete With Mass Merchant Retailers: Don’t Look Like ‘Em

In preparation for a speech to toy retailers, I spent a lot of time studying toy stores; how they look, how they display, where they’re located. One thing that sticks out though is how so many load their stores with merchandise that they love ,then stack it altogether. This results in gobs of individual products face out, just like the big boxes do.

No signage. Nothing to draw our attention to certain features and benefits. Nothing that explains the educational component to the toy, just stacks of stuff.


The thing that makes specialty retail work is the discovery aspect. That’s why your store has to be laid out in such a fashion that relationships are obvious to those who don’t know your merch.

The higher priced or more profitable items need help in a crowded world and often have to go it alone as employees are rarely there at the moment of discovery and decision to convince the customer to pay full price.

And this goes the same for just about every specialty retailer whether your gift store, jewelry store, hardware store, you name it. You are able to take different items and group them together so shoppers purchase more than they may have initially expected to. That’s what makes great retail: profits.

It’s not stocking the shelves full of box after box after box with the exact same product all hermetically sealed. That’s the big-boxes.

When you make co-ordinated selling displays,  you make shoppers stop and take notice. If the relationships still aren’t as obvious as they need to be, come up with compelling words that will help.

Just sticking a price in front of an item does nothing to enhance its value. So find ways to excite.  For example “Our best-selling scooter, indestructible, balanced, and light weight now comes in electric red.”

The battle for the dollars has never been sharper, if you’ve got piles of merch to sell, or you’ve ordered lots of merch for the holiday, don’t make the mistake and just “put it out.” To compete with the mass merchants like Target, Wal-Mart and the like – you can’t look like them.

To learn more about merchandising your store get your hands on a copy of The Retail Doctor’ s Guide to Growing Your Business.

Retail Sales Coach: Daniel Pink’s Drive Vs. Employee Commissions

I’m about to do something heretical. Dangerous. Against the tide.

Here goes… 

I read Daniel Pink’s bestseller Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us and didn’t believe it.

There, I said it.

Those of you who love it, good for you. Continue reading Retail Sales Coach: Daniel Pink’s Drive Vs. Employee Commissions »

Electronic Carneys on Retail Main Streets

“Step right up, step right up and see the amazing…”

You’ve heard it in dozens of movies. I’ll bet you even saw the red and white striped jacket some of the guys wore as they shouted at passersby.

They were called carnival barkers.  Their sole job was to interrupt passersby loud enough with amazing sales skills to get you to pay extra and come see the sideshow or oddball attraction.

Hold that visual…

I was reading this week’s issue of Time magazine over the shoulder of a guy in the plane row in front of me.  He turned to The Groupon Clipper. While the article was touting some of the headwinds for Groupon, it also described Groupon 2.0. When we landed I had to get a copy myself.

“The next phase is hyper-local: knowing where subscribers live and what their interests are, curating their commercial experiences and sharing with friends. Think of yourself walking around with a locationally aware smart phone and Groupon knowing not just what you like but also what might pique your curiosity.”

It continued…

“To get there will require the kind of data massaging that’s well beyond the average social-shopping site. In fact, Groupon’s investors believe its strength is in its data mining and not necessarily in its consumer interface, which is easily copied. These are the algorithms that conjure perfect deals at perfect times.”

So imagine you are indeed walking down the street…

And your smartphone vibrates or talks to you or beeps you a message has been received because Groupon knew you just walked close to a GAP. Or a Thai restaurant. Or a shoe store. And delivered a “deal.”  Or all of them and more hit you with competing messages to get you to come in…

Your leisurely stroll down the street becomes a carnival boardwalk where you are yelled at by an electronic carney to grab your interest to come inside. Is that going to enhance anyone’s shopping experience at bricks and mortar stores or push them over the edge and onto the ‘net?

Good question…

That’s why I wrote a manifesto: Bricks and Mortar Retail At Risk In The Digital Age: From Silicon Valley to Main Street detailing the risks and what you can do about it.  You can read the introduction here or if you are ready to download and read [registration required but free] you can do so here.

Retail Sales Training Tip: How To Add-On To Any Sale

Before you begin training your retail sales staff how to add-on, you first need to show them how a sale could play out. Once the customer has selected the main product, you have three options to get additional product out the door:

  1. Make them see something else that makes the first purchase better.
  2. Scare them they may need something else.
  3. Fold your tent.

Obviously, your retail sales training will focus on the first but you need to show your employees what all three options look like on your sales floor…

The first is a great one if you sell flooring, apparel, window fashions or anything where there are substantial ways you can make it perfect. Use the cake analogy. Continue reading Retail Sales Training Tip: How To Add-On To Any Sale »

Why I’m Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor with a ®

In some of the glowing reviews of my new book, some writers and bloggers have called attention to the fact I am referred to throughout the book as Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor®.

There’s a reason, it is a registered trademark of my business, the Retail Doctor; legal counsel insisted. Continue reading Why I’m Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor with a ® »