Topic: Retail Sales

Retailer Tip For Tax Day

By Bob Phibbs

retail salesIt’s Tax Day in the US, a time when many people, including retailers, look at their past year’s income and:

  • Wonder where it all went and
  • Feel poorer.

It doesn’t matter your income level; no one finds it a fun day.

And let’s face it, retail in March was tough.

Retailers have been accessing my website looking for answers on how to attract customers and make more sales.

Their frequent refrain - Customers are saying they won’t buy until it goes on sale.

But you can’t constantly put things on sale to attract customers or you’ll have no profits.

That’s particularly acute when you have a retail shop you purchased with the best intentions, but now you find yourself in a space where you feel you bought yourself a low-paying job.

You may not have as many customers coming through your doors right now. Your customers are feeling they shouldn’t buy anything right now because they just saw their own bottom line.

Your bills could be upside down, and you are hyper-aware when customers say they can’t afford it because that’s how you may be feeling too.

It’s like December 31st all over again…

You know, the end of the year when you look in the mirror, find you’ve put on a few pounds; the joy of giving gifts is over, and you see the credit card bills arriving.

That’s when you resolve to spend less. That’s when you make a resolution to eat better. Cut out the carbs. Drink more water. Limit caffeine.

When I was in the coffee business, we understood this was just part of doing business, so we simply cut the bakery order in half for the first two weeks.

But customers are creatures of habit and by the third week, we would be running out of baked goods so had to return to our usual order.

I share this story with you on Tax Day because it is normal for you and your customers to be feeling poor this week.

That’s OK, but don’t overlook the big picture…

The broader picture is the economy is recovering, and while you might not think that last week’s record, Wall Street run-ups affect you, they do. Most retirement plans invest in Wall Street. Many municipalities benefit from stock increases. And the more flush the affluent feel, the more it tends to bolster the rest of the economy’s perception. The middle class is shopping but it takes more now than ever before to get them to buy something.

Right now, you might feel you need to put the brakes on ordering more merchandise, hiring more help, upgrading your store’s technologies, clearing out your old stock at a loss, or increasing your training budget.

You need to step up your game, not shrink it. We’re in the middle of a type of retail Darwinism where some will thrive, some will survive and others will be gone.

I’ve noticed a lot of new store openings – have you?

Admit it, there is competition in your neighborhood - if it’s not from the new store, it’s from the guy down the street or from the guy online. As always, you need to lead if you don’t want to be left behind.

And it doesn’t have to cost you a lot.

All it takes is stopping whatever you are doing that’s not customer-related when someone enters your store. You say a genuine “Good morning,” engaging them with an open heart. You find something in common and build on their interaction with you. You add to their desire to purchase with features and benefits and yes, you sell the merchandise. It takes training if you expect to deliver it each time.

Focus on the idea that people have to trust you first before they will buy your merchandise. Once you make the customer feel special, it is up to you to make your merchandise special.

If you made less than you wanted to last year, it could be as simple as warming up your attitude and shopping environment.

Customers are feeling cold and distrustful. If you open your doors with warmth and a desire to build trust, your customers will buy from you.

Your customers are counting on you.

Let today, Tax Day, open your eyes, give you the leverage to improve, and indeed the swift kick in the pants to do better than you’ve ever done.

Open your doors tomorrow with a new, more open heart.

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