What Makes Good Retailers Become Great Retailers?

By: Dan Jablons, Retail Smart Guys

If you are reading this, you are probably a good retailer.  Your business is mostly healthy, you pay your bills, and you have a good, loyal, customer base.  That alone is a pretty great achievement these days, so congratulations on that.

The world of retail is changing today.  Much has already been written about online competition, vendors selling direct to consumers, multi-channel, and more.  While important considerations, they can become distractions from the core of the retail business, which is having the right inventory.

Sure, you have to keep up with technology and changing trends.  You have to watch where your customers are shopping, and try to make the experience of shopping in your store a fun and exciting entertainment event. 

As a retail consultant with an international client list, I have a unique perspective.  I get to see how lots of different retailers operate.  This enables me to see a variety of different ways that people operate, and the outcomes of those operations.  I see all the various things that people try, and I carefully observe what happens.  That, in part, is what drove me to write this article.

So, What Makes Good Retailers Become Great Retailers?

Here’s a partial list:

  • They recognize that their inventory is everything. It really doesn’t matter how great your marketing is, if when the customers arrive, they don’t have what they want to buy.  Having a solid merchandise plan is the single most important ingredient in successful retail.  (Yes, some will argue that location is most important, but if you have the greatest location with the wrong inventory, you will not succeed).
  • They do tons of in store events. I know, most retailers don’t love doing that, and tell me how much work it is, etc.  But in this day and age, the shoppers want to be entertained, and great store events are an excellent way to keep them engaged and coming back.
  • They understand the importance of clienteling. That means that they know their customers, establish personal relationships with them, and stay in close contact with them.
  • They establish solid partnerships with their vendors. Great retailers tell their vendors the good, the bad, and the ugly.  They tell them when goods are performing well, and when they aren’t performing well.  They work with their vendors to keep their stores fresh, viable, and fun to shop.
  • They participate in employee development. This means that they teach them how to sell, how to evaluate the business, and constantly give them new challenges. 
  • They utilize their merchandise plan to drive cash and profit. I cannot emphasize this one enough.  Proper planning means great cash flow, great sales, lower markdowns, lower inventory investment, and ultimately better profits.

About the Author
Dan Jablons has worked in the retail industry for more than 40 years. His consulting work stems from working with small mom-and-pop retailers, up to giants like Walmart, Target, American Apparel, Jimmy Choo, and many others. His company specializes in merchandise planning, open to buy, and cash flow planning. In addition to his vast retail background, Dan can be seen in film and on TV, in shows such as Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Family Business, and more. Dan combines his extensive knowledge of retail with his comedy skills to become one of the industry’s most popular speakers.