10 Of The Retail Doctor’s Best Retail Blogs From 2019

By Bob Phibbs

best retail blogsYou know you should be searching for the best retail blogs to learn how to do better with your store so I’ve compiled this list to help you build in-store sales. As a retail expert with over 800 articles on my site, many retailers discover I’m their go-to person for visual merchandising, industry trends, brick and mortar retail tips, best practices to deliver an excellent customer experience, inventory management, and of course retail sales training.

That said, there is a really popular retail design blog about my makeover of a rural equipment dealer I completed in March that you can check out here

I’ve broken my Top 10 posts down by subject to help you scan and find the information you, as brick-and-mortar retailers, should add to your reading lists.

The distinction of brick and mortar retailers is blurring as the retail world now offers many ways to shop - in-store, on a tablet or other device, and even on the newest shoppable products feed on Instagram and other social media. Smart retailers understand all potential customers want to buy when they want, where they want, and through whatever channel they want.

So here are my Top 10 retail blogs of 2019...

Memorable Stores

I love discovering new retailers and how existing concepts are recreating themselves. Most have finally gotten it that the store is the hub that everything else emanates from and supports. To that end, I went to the tony new mall in New York City to see how well this $25 billion development was set for retail success. You can read about it in these posts with pictures, What’s New In Retail At Hudson Yards, Saks, and STORY and in this post 3 Experiential Retailers Doing Store Design Right: Starbucks Roastery, Suit Supply, RH Gallery.

A Good Example of Customer Service

After an interview at CNN near Columbus Circle, I visited a retailer who is currently struggling after slashing its profit outlook, suspending its dividend, and announcing the resignations of its CEO and executive chairman. But on that day the store team delivered the best customer experience I’d had in a long time. Even in this time of ever-growing online sales, stores not only belong, but they have the ability to shine in ways online sales simply don’t. And while I'm not a retail design blog, as a bonus, I also unpack several of their design elements that make their retail environment stand out. Check out this post on brick-and-mortar retail at it's best, Ted Baker Delivers The Best Shopping Experience Around.

A Rant On Not Selling The Merchandise

Last December I was in Dallas and stopped at the flagship Neiman Marcus. The troubled retailer now with $5 billion in debt from two leveraged buyouts still has the reputation for unparalleled service much like Nordstrom who I visited a couple years ago. While I purchased two items, I shot an impromptu video on the street which became the basis for this January post, Neiman Marcus Visit Illustrates Why Brick And Mortar Stores Are Losing Money.

How to build store traffic

So many retailers are obsessed with getting more shoppers to their stores and there are a number of good reasons why: people move, competitors are now marketing to them via email, text, products are finding them in their Facebook feeds and well, people die. But attracting is only half of the equation if those shoppers don’t convert into buyers due to your customer service, so check out this post How to Attract Customers and Increase Your Store Foot Traffic and it’s companion How To Avoid The Dangers of Attracting Customers When Your Associates Aren't Ready.

Loyalty Programs

They’re all the rage – how to get shoppers’ information by offering them perks for data. It could be as sneaky as asking if you want your receipt emailed to you as Old Navy does or as old fashioned as just asking. Retail technology can help personalize the customer experience only if it has a way of tracking you. While there seems to be growing skepticism by consumers about how much value they receive from loyalty rewards, it doesn’t mean as a retailer that you don’t try. But how to get shoppers to join? However you decide, read this post first How To Get Customers Onto Your Loyalty Program? Don’t Do It Like Victoria’s Secret Does.

How To Respond To Email Extorsion

I used to laugh at SPAM marketing emails until on a casual glance at the subject line this past spring, I saw my own password and an email extorting me. While it was a generic phishing scheme, it did scare the life out of me when I first read it. That’s why I wrote this post based on what I learned about how to protect yourself, 6 Ways To Protect Yourself From Email Ransom Scammers Who Have Your Real Password.

The Latest Retail Trends

2019 was my 25th year as the Retail Doctor and I am always looking at industry trends and ways the retail environment has changed from when I first began working at the Broadway department store in Los Angeles. Back then, we had to peruse little newsprint books with really tiny print that contained bad customers’ Visa and Mastercard numbers to see if they were legit. I can’t imagine such a thing now in the reality of omni-channel retailing. I unpack several significant trends in a post called, 5 Trends That Are Transforming Retail That Didn’t Exist 25 Years Ago.

Understanding the Retail Consumer

While the strength of the US consumer shows in healthy retail sales this holiday season, understanding the retail consumer has become an obsession these days. Every week, someone comes out with a more outrageous headline like Survey Shows Retail Is Dead with stats from an online shopping site that 95% of shoppers were choosing to buy over half their gifts online.

In the effort to really understand the retail consumer and how retailers either are aligned or at odds with them, I partnered with Oracle NetSuite with a survey of 1200 consumers and 400 retail executives. Some of the results pointed to actionable changes retailers could take including that 58 percent of consumers are uncomfortable with the way stores use technology to improve personalization in their shopping experience. Read the full results in this post and look for our second survey results in February 2020, Survey Reveals Customer Service Disconnect Between Retailers And Shoppers.

Warning Signs A Retail Business Is About To Crash

While I keynote conventions in front of large retail and luxury brands audiences, often independent retailers are often there too. Those smaller retailers are trying to do everything from marketing through text and email, to scheduling social media posts, from hiring and firing to trying to training how to use a POS – and all without showing the real fear of their way of life being displaced through automation, online shopping, and economic realities of not enjoying economies of scale when purchasing merchandise. That’s why I wrote this post as a reminder 7 Easily Missed Danger Signs Your Retail Business Is Failing. I also have my 85 question Retail Assessment Tool  you can take for free with registration to see if you are a 5-star, 4-star, 3-star, or 2-star retailer. Even if you're a 1-star retailer, I'll send you tips to improve your profitability.

Retail Management

Managers have the distinction of being responsible for driving retailer revenue by following correct procedures, hiring, training, and generally operating a retail store as their own. At the same time, many managers are promoted from the ranks because they are standouts. Many times additional training is not given and that can lead to high turnover and customer service dissatisfaction. That’s why I wrote this piece specifically to alert you to what bad management looks like and how to correct it, 9 Sure Signs Of A Rotten Retail Manager.

How to Sell More

How could I not mention retail sales training as it is what I am most known for? There are a lot of articles I have on my site about selling and this is written for the front-line person. Rather than looking at your crew as “retail transaction enablers” who are little more than warehouse workers on steroids, there is a huge place for associates to be trained on how to be more human in an increasingly less human world. So if you actually value people on your sales floor, read this, Retail Sales Associate Training: 9 Ways To Get Better At Selling

See also, Top Voices Retail 2019 - What Was Missing

In Sum

Many retailers with physical locations hear online is where the true action is, but the dirty little secret is returned products are a huge margin drain - especially when you factor in the costs of acquisition. Just this holiday season, DynamicAction  reported that, “returns soared 29 percent in the weeks of Black Friday and Cyber Monday compared to the same period in 2018.”

The good news for retailers is that the National Retail Federation was right in their prediction of a 3+% increase in sales this past holiday; the consumer is still interested in buying.

Clearly the winners in retail understand it's still about the retail customer experience in brick and mortar stores if you want to build loyal customers and have a chance of clawing back the losses online shopping continues to fuel.

You can also discover 8 other retail blogs here.

And remember, If you’d like to do a deeper dive with me personally, you can schedule a time here.

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