5 Signs Your Retail Store Needs A Makeover

Before and After pictures of appliance store makeover

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Have you seen those business makeover reality shows?

The shows that highlight businesses down on their luck and then, with a coat of white paint all is good?

The shows that highlight businesses looking to change - if they'll make a deal with the proverbial devil and sign away 1/3 or more of their company?

Of course, you have.

In reality, for a transformation to be sustained and helpful takes more than paint or resolving a conflict. It takes understanding the store’s customers, looking at their service, pricing, and marketing models, all of which make a business profitable.

Because I've done a lot of business overhauls over the years, including for the Los Angeles Times, I've been approached several times about hosting a business makeover reality show. It sounds great to some producers, and we get pretty far until some television executive feels there isn't sufficient demand.

From my readers, I know there is sufficient demand! They would find each episode a university of information on what they could do to improve their retail shop.

And with retail supporting one in four jobs, I know it would be well received…

But until that time comes when I get my own reality show, there is a crying need for retailers to transform their stores!

When you opened your retail business however many years ago, everyone and everything was new: your paint, your signs, your racks, your employees, and all of your merchandise.

People just loved shopping there.

Almost half a decade later, your store is still chugging along. But that once shiny layer of paint is now faded, the shelves are chipped, and your merchandise isn't all that fresh.

Then there are your employees...

New stores in competition with you have opened; they have upped the bar, and although your store may still be completely functional, you may be turning off potential customers without knowing it.

Here are five questions you must ask yourself to see if your store needs a makeover.

1. Is your store designed to suit customers' natural traffic patterns?

In North America, people walk into a business, turn to the right, and then walk counter-clockwise through a store. If your cashiers are in front and on the right, you have a situation where your customers who want to pay constantly have to cross through other customers just entering your store. This limits and degrades the shopping experience for all.

2. Does your store lack consistency?

Do you have some signs in color but others in black and white, some handwritten and some computer generated, some old and faded and some brand new? Elements like paint colors, signage, racks and mannequins should be consistent throughout your store.

Not sure what I'm talking about? Go visit a major retailer like Nordstrom and take a look at their displays, signage, etc. Then visit another retailer like Sears and compare.

3. Does your merchandise layout create sensory overload?

If everything is stacked to the gills, on the same shelving, and lit the same, nothing stands out. If you mix every style, period, and color in the same room, you could overwhelm your customers. Information overload prevents sales by tripping the I can't figure this out, I'm an idiot switch. Customers interested in buying (or they never would have entered your store,) leave empty-handed.

Take a minute to try to see your store as a new customer. What do you see?

4. Does your store look old?

Retail lives and dies by the answer to this one question: What's new? Just like hairstyles, jean styles, and tie and lapel styles change, so do store styles. Whatever style your store was in ’03 probably isn’t what’s hot right now. And if it is even older - the probability of looking dated is even stronger.

Taking your cues from magazines, TV shows, and even the major retailers who have spent a lot of money trying to figure out how to look new could make you look at your store critically. Are there updates to be made?

5. Are your sales stagnant?

A common mistake is thinking a business has to be in dire shape to need a makeover. That isn't true. Stagnant sales appear before declining sales; you want to make changes while customers are still coming in.

See also, Best Retail Consultant Case Studies Worth Reading

In Sum

If you need to revamp, don't worry. Whether it's a nip and tuck here or it needs a major makeover, devise a plan, a timeline, and a budget.

If you need help, remember the Retail Doc makes house calls.