The Ten Commandments Of A Successful Retail Store

Hands chiseling stone

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It’s easy for many retailers to get distracted by all the changes in technology, social media, and shopper behavior.

That can lead to going down a rabbit hole, trying to do everything instead of doing the right thing.

The following are best practice guideposts to help you always focus on what is most important: getting enough merchandise out of the door at a profit to live the life you want to lead.

So here are my 10 Commandments for a thriving Retail Store:

  1.  Believe every shopper wants to buy from you today. An old adage was that a mall shopper would only go to three stores. Nowadays, there are fewer leisurely trips to the mall. Those who enter a store have a mission and want to discover something new, compare and contrast something they saw online, or buy something new. Don’t believe anyone is just looking.

  2. Greet every shopper. We want to believe everyone is in your store to buy something, but they probably aren’t going to tell you at the front door if you ask, What can I help you with today?

    Why? Because you are aggressively trying to pin down why the customer is there. Maybe they don’t want to tell you. Maybe they don’t know. Maybe they were just overcome by your great window display.

    Instead, you must give your customers space to look around, adjust, and take in your various display areas.

  3. Never ignore a shopper. While some feel it is better to leave shoppers alone on the floor, it isn’t. While shoppers don’t want to be pestered, they also want to know someone is there for them. A selling system like my can give you a structure for how to engage the shopper in a new way.

  4. And never make a shopper wait for you. Holding up a finger while you’re on the phone, waiting on someone without looking up, and being oblivious to the shoppers in the store are invitations for them to scan and order from someone else.

  5. Present the best option, not the cheapest option, first. Employees increasingly sell what is on sale or cheap rather than the best or more expensive. To them, they don’t see the need for many features. The real work is to convince your Millennial employees that your $200 widget will be purchased by a Baby Boomer customer even though it could be found online for $50 less. That’s why you have to train over and over not just on product knowledge but also on the ability to compare and contrast so the better merchandise sells.

  6. Customers want a complete solution, not just one item. What's missing from most shopping experiences is the appreciation that your shoppers could have gone anywhere else but chose to walk into your brick-and-mortar store. You honor each customer when you build rapport before trying to sell them something. That way, they get a complete solution with no one asking the lame, Anything else?

  7. Your job is to get the sale. It has to be top of mind for you and your crew that letting someone out of the store without them buying means you failed – not that they were just looking.

  8. Management’s job is to train, motivate, and hold employees accountable. With tight scheduling at the toniest retailers and mom-and-pop stores, it is tempting to have managers wait on shoppers on the sales floor. This is a mistake. The best use of their knowledge is to oversee employee behaviors and to offer daily training so your associates can make your shoppers’ day.

  9. The average number of items sold per customer determines an employee's worth. This KPI is often overlooked but shows your salespeople’s ability to add to a sale. While it is hard to get to a consistent two items per sale in a month, if you settle for 1 or 1.2, you’re settling for crumbs when you probably could have the whole banquet. Train adding-on, and if an employee can’t or won’t do it, find someone who can.

  10. Listen. Nothing works in your store if your associates can’t listen to your shopper's problems and restate them, showing they understand. Managers can’t lead unless they can listen to and act on associates' real concerns.

Four Precepts to Guide Your Training:

1. Help everyone with an open heart. That means the party is in the aisles, not behind the counter.

2. Get to know the person before the problem or offering a solution.

3. Never assume you know how much a customer will spend, so present all the products, starting with the most expensive.

4. Help the customer decide today is the day to solve their gift or replacement search or satisfy their desire for something new.

Retail is different. It should be more human.

In Sum

Brick-and-mortar retail is morphing into shopping anywhere, any time, and on any device in any store.

Miss these best-practice fundamentals, and you’re destined to be left in retail hell where constant sales, high employee turnover, and increased competition live.

You can be brilliant on these commandments, execute them with every interaction, and talk about them in every meeting.

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