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Posts Tagged ‘Wal-Mart’

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 Holiday Management Tip: Don’t Be A Knight

I was at Wal-Mart the other day. Yes, Wal-Mart. Living in a rural area your choices are limited. My razor needed a new part and the one I ordered from Amazon with “expedited shipping” hadn’t arrived.

While checking out, the cashier said, “Good morning,” and proceeded to scan the items. When she got to my impulse buy of blueberries, it wouldn’t scan.

She tried several times…

The label had turned underneath itself so it wouldn’t scan properly.

She tried to pull open the label so it would scan but to no avail.  She then tried manually entering the number.  No good. Continue reading Retail Holiday Management Tip: Don’t Be A Knight »

Luxury Market Not Dead – Newswires To Cry Foul

istock_000001389174xsmallHave you grown  tired of the Polly Paranoids who have pulled the wool over our eyes the past year that luxury is dead?  I have.

The ones who boldly claimed in articles and on covers of business publications, “we are in a whole new world where luxury is dead. And this isn’t just a trend, it is a fundamental shift for  shoppers.” Yeah, right. Got it, end of world right around the corner. Sack and ashes. Bad times here to stay. Life sucks.

If that’s the case then why, why did the news come in from Paris that LVMH, the biggest luxury goods company including the Louis Vuitton brand post a profit?  Don’t look for widespread coverage of that fact on cable news channels or your local TV station.  If anything they’ll have a talking head guy on to  say, “yeah BUT…”

For them, Wal-Mart and the Dollar Store are all we could be shopping at now and forever. After all, wasn’t it just about a month ago we saw Warren Buffet decrying a “new world” after the economy “fell off a cliff?”

A WSJ  article by Max Colchester details all the brands under LVMH in the article in today’s edition.  Here was one quote, “Mega brands are producing results ahead of the market average,” says Luca Solca, a luxury analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein.

Point of this post? The world is still spending on luxury. Hold on to your core customer. Sell your merch.  Don’t destroy your brand by discounting. Someone’s getting the $$$ – look in the mirror – maybe its your fault.

If you’d like some help, remember the Retail Doctor makes house calls.

Lee Scott of Wal-Mart, Microsoft Robot and New Product at NRF

OK so everyone covered Lee Scott, CEO of Wal-Mart’s comments yesterday morning at the National Retail Federation’s BIG show in NYC.

Well, maybe not everyone but Reuters and AP did a piece each which were picked up.  Here’s my take and then as promised more about new products.

There is a mindset among big boxes that the party is over. The credit was cheap so they could finance inventory, the developers could build more and more stores so these retailers could show good comp sales (growth), the consumers could buy it all because they too had easy access to credit. Even though as retailers opened all those big stores, each one ramped up slower with much less results than in the past and Wall Street looked the other way.

Those times are gone.

That said, Mr. Scott shared with us that Wal-Mart had a 25% increase last week in plasma TV sales in the US.  Hardly the scrimp and save picture being fed to us on the news shows.

At NRF it became clear that retail is overbuilt; that the end of the “credit party” probably means 20% of malls and retailers will fail in 2009/10.  No one wanted to speculate but there certainly wasn’t optimism in the sessions.  Maybe that’s because NRF focuses primarily on the big boxes, not the smaller retailers.

Too bad because smaller retailers can operate better than the big box tankers in such a storm because they are inherently more like a speedboat. They can manuveur around the inevitable “going out of business” sales that will be a hallmark of 2009 as poorly contributing stores fold – even whole chains. These operators can see opportunity instead of doom & gloom. They aren’t thinking they can only grow by opening in Asia, Russia or India – they want to thrive only in their local community.

Also the small to medium sized retailer doesn’t have to worry as much about coverage of the store by employees since they do not have as big of a store. Smaller stores can maintain a good ratio of employees per square foot to customers which, with proper sales training like mine, can increase sales.  Not so with the big boxes which will frustrate their customers even more.

img_0177I’ll talk much more about the economists that were in abundance at NRF next time.  Right now I want to talk about Microsoft Tag technology.

What caught my attention was the robot Microsoft had on hand.  While I soon found out the robot had nothing to do with the product, it was a great crowd generator.

The actual program is a tag that is read by a handheld device like your Iphone (App store Microsoft Tag) or Blackberry (download for products running Windows at http://gettag.mobi.)

When you take a picture, it opens your browser to a planned web page, or custom url or dials a phone number to give further information. (The tag I built on their site barcodeat right.)

I don’t believe customers would use this unless someone was with them at this point, especially since you have to download the app but it could be an easy way to show the product in-home or different options or actual customers using your product with clickable ratings.

You can go to the Microsoft Beta tag website  and create your own tag to see how it would work.

At first it seems you would get this information from a salesperson but what if you were so slammed with customers, they couldn’t get to the customer waiting? Employees could use this as part of their greeting, explaining how all your best products have this and they could get further information easily until the salesperson returns.

What if an author put a scannable tag to information in their books as a way to interact with the reader in a new way? Or you could scan to a joinup page while you waited in a checkout line that would link to your rewards card signup. The possibilities are ripe for the creative because it is easy for the consumer.

Economic surveys presented at NRF said people had money to buy, they just didn’t want to right now. Who knows when that will change, but it will.  What will not change is for customers to become more patient or have more time to shop.  Tagging in the store, much like online makes sense.

Microsoft might just have something here.

Next up? Economics and lots of statistics for you to chew over.

4 Ways Everything Old In Retail Is New Again

Does it feel like you’ve done everything you could to boost sales?  Everything old is new again and here are four updated for 2009.  

#1. Merchandising That Cross-Sells.  Thom Blischok, in Refrigerated & Frozen Foods Retail Magazine is quoted in an article “Tough Times Create a Revival of the Dining Room Right Now.” He says, “there is opportunity to rethink what frozen displays look like. Think like a shopper: ‘How can I get a frozen meal for four for under $15?’

That sort of concept will be a real winner in the marketplace, but it will require you to display meals differently creating frozen food displays by meal components rather than by just categories or prepared meals. You might want to have chicken breasts next to frozen vegetables, next to frozen potatoes, next to a dessert. Think about putting together simple meals inside the display cases, and especially in endcaps.

It’s the old “this goes with this,” or “if you buy this, you’re going to need that” merchandising we’ve seen in merchandising fashion, home furnishings and hardware stores for generations.  Now new categories are putting these concepts in place. 

#2. Notifying Loyal Customers Of Sales
A blog posting alerts us that Amazon’s shopping cart now will notify you if an item you’ve placed in your shopping cart or wish list becomes discounted.  This is why boutique stores used to have their salespeople keep a card file, so they could call customers for sales or other items the customer was interested in. Now the system does it automatically.

#3. Getting Merch Transferred To Your Local Store 
sitetostoreWal-Mart has a new commercial touting their site to store program where you can order online from a larger selection, Wal-Mart ships to a local store so you don’t pay shipping.  The voiceover? “I would have paid anything for that service.”  Stores with salespeople used to transfer merchandise in via inter-store transfers. Now the customer does it for themselves online. 

#4. Collaborate and Show How All Your Products Look In Home
Georg Jensen, the Danish silverware company, has remodeled its stores to evoke the warmth of home rather than museum-like sophistication. It is also showcasing other brands — such as Royal Copenhagen and Bang & Olufsen — not to sell them but to depict a lifestyle. “It’s creative retailing at a time when everyone needs to be as creative as possible,” says one trend analyst.  Helping the customer see the big picture is what department stores in particular used to be good at, now the specialty stores are reaching out to do the same thing. 

Take a look around, the magic bullets of success are re-invented from ones that have worked in retail for a long time.