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Thoughts, ideas, tips and musings as I work alongside small business owners helping them love their businesses back to life!

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Debra

Debra

Shopping should be a pleasure for everyone involved - customers, staff and business owners - never a chore.  I spend my time working with retail business owners - helping them love their businesses back to life!  This blog is my thoughts, ideas, tips and  musings on what I find...

Posted by on in Inventory
Deleting Product Lines

Every good buyer makes an occasional bad buy.  Buyers must use judgement based on experience and be prepared to take risks.  Nevertheless, many bad buys result from lack of discipline or analysis to complement or test that judgement.

Therefore buyers need to continuously seek information to better assess buying opportunities and work closely with their selling partners in the stores.

Inevitably buyers also need to delete products from the range. Display space is always at a premium and there is a continuous stream of new products.

To avoid over ranging and lowering stockturns, through excessive stock, buyers have to continuously monitor stock for poor performers that can be deleted.

The following guidelines offer points to be considered by buyers in approaching this issue.

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Posted by on in Selling
Bottom Line:  Its About Selling

Retailing is about selling. Everything we do is about having customers purchase merchandise from us.
We make our shops look nice so that customers will buy more merchandise.
We advertise so that more customers will buy.
We promote so that more customers will buy.

But if we do everything right - we have the best displays, the best location, the best advertising, the best promotions, the best merchandise, at the lowest possible price - and a staff member ignores or insults a customer - it's all for nothing.

Successful retailing depends on positive contact between the customer and staff. Think of selling as providing a service. After all, that's what your customers want.

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Posted by on in Shop Local

heart-in-hand thumbThink back to the last time you went on holiday. Chances are you didn’t visit a big box store for leisure. Instead, I’m willing to bet you strolled down a quaint street and wandered into boutiques and cozy little cafes. I’m also willing to bet that while doing that you felt relaxed and happy.

Now think about your own neighbourhood with the local store where the owner knows your kids by name. Again, I’m willing to bet that this business contributes to your happiness and quality of life. Small and independent businesses have a cascading effect on cities and towns—each small business is part of a total business network. When a big box moves in, a number of small businesses move out and you wind up seeing town centres or shopping strips gutted.

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Posted by on in Customer Service

vintage handbagWhere goods are sold as seconds, customers may still be entitled to a refund. Just by stating that something is a second or broken does not remove the right to a customer receiving a refund. They cannot claim a refund on the fault that was drawn to their attention at the time of the sale, or if they change their mind about the purchase, but if other faults occur in the product, other than the original fault, they are again entitled to a refund.

Example A:
Say, for instance, a handbag is reduced and sold as a second because it was dirty.
If the handle of the handbag breaks, within reasonable time of use, then the customer is entitled to a refund.
The handbag was reduced because it was dirty, not because of a faulty handle.

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Posted by on in Customer Service

No RefundsRetailers don’t have to use signs which enunciate their policy regarding refunds/returns, but if they are to be used, then they must clearly state what customers are entitled to. The signs don’t have to be long and complicated – shorter signs can be used as long as they don’t mislead the customer.  However,  disclaimers printed in small type can be considered as misleading, as customers may not see them.

Signs which enunciate the refund/return policy of a retailer should be positioned as close as physically possible to the entrance(s) to the store. This way, the customer is unable to enter the store and make his or her purchases without having been deemed to be in possession of knowledge of the retailers refund policy.

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Posted by on in Customer Service

refundWhen you are dealing with customers and refunds, it is best to be cool and calm at all times [easier said than done on occasion]. When a loud-voiced customer comes into your shop demanding a refund, even though legally they are not entitled to one, try and deal with the situation rationally and calmly. 

Why? Because statistics show that a happy customer will become a loyal customer. These days retailing is becoming more and more competitive and trying to build up loyal customers is probably the hardest part. But, if you succeed it will be worthwhile in the end.

It is always a good investment to have all staff trained on your service standards and how to handle customer complaints as customers don’t want to be bandied from one person to another to another. Ideally, they’d like the first person they approach to fix the problem.

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Posted by on in Buying
Gift Shops:  What to Order

An exciting, eclectic selection of merchandise is one of the key components to a successful gift or specialty shop. Customers have the option of spending their dollars in many different places, and to a great extent the same goods are available in most shops. 

The specialty shop distinguishes itself by presenting shoppers with products carefully chosen and enticingly displayed. Customers want you to edit the options for them and present those you think are the very best, or the best value at a good price.

Specialty shops constantly need to look for products unique in their market. As soon as an item turns up in a discount store, the time has come to for the small retailer to drop it. Whenever possible, the specialty shop buyer should look for items not available to mass marketers. This helps eliminate price competition, which is a game that’s hard to win when you don’t have the buying clout of a big chain.

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Posted by on in Buying
A Retail Buyer's Responsibilities

The buying function plays a critical role in a retail business because it is buyers who determine virtually all of the elements of the merchandise offer. If the buyer fails to get the ‘five rights’ (that is, merchandise, quantity, price, place and timing) right, no amount of slick presentation or promotion will save the retailer.

The effectiveness of the buying function has a major impact on the retailer’s ultimate profitability because:

  • Merchandise is the principal generator of revenue
  • Merchandise typically represents between 33 and 66 percent of a retailer’s total assets.

Viewed in this context, it becomes clear that buyers don’t simply acquire merchandise; they are in fact managers of money. Every decision they make has an impact on the company’s level of turnover, its profits, its cash flow and its return on investment.

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Posted by on in Social Media
Don't be "That" Person on Social Media

Word of Caution (or Don’t Be “That Person”)
You know those people who go to networking events and try to sell you long before they learn anything about your needs? Who are pushing their product or service as they give you their never-let-go-G.I.-Joe-with-the-Kung-Fu-grip handshake? It’s easy in real life to see how obnoxious that behaviour is, right?
Well, then don’t behave that way on facebook. (Or on any social media site, for that matter.) Anyone jumping into social media as a way to make a quick sale will be sorely disappointed, and may irrevocably damage their reputation.
Social media is about building relationships; you build your network and your reputation over time by providing value to other people. The best book ever written on social media marketing could well be How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
Remember; You need to focus on building rapport, reaching out to connect with others, adding value, sharing information relative to your niche and marketplace.

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Posted by on in Social Media
Broken Businesses Aren't Fixed by Social Media

Whenever there is a new type of technology, media or fad of any kind everyone hops on the new wagon. The foolish think just because it's new, the seat on the new wagon must be better. They think it will cost less, be easier, bring more customers. It's normal to look for a solution.
To hope that something will fix the issues that keeps you up at night. It is normal to hope and dream of the day you can go to sleep without waking up in the middle of the night to solve a problem.
Many do the same thing with social media.
They think once they are on Twitter, have a facebook page, and get everything automated their business problems will be solved. Sorry to break the news to you but that’s not how it works.
The reality is that social media will probably highlight these issues even further. It may even shine like a strobe light on the very broken areas of your business. It may put departments, people and even individuals under pressure. Why? Because you will be forced to talk about these things. Why? Because it is now more out in the open.

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Posted by on in Selling
Bumping the Sale

Too many small business people spend inordinate amounts of time and money trying to increase their profitability by attracting new customers, when all along they’re allowing a goldmine of profits to slip by right under their nose.

What is a Bump?
On each and every transaction you have the opportunity to increase your margins dramatically with a simple “bump” or “up-sell”. Bumps are offers made at the point of sale by giving a simple suggestion.
For instance, when I’m on the road, one of the easiest places for breakfast is McDonalds. I always order a Sausage Muffin and a flat white and each time I go to order, the counter person asks me if I’d like to have the large coffee. Errr, yeeesssss. This is a good example of a bump.

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Posted by on in Selling
Conversational Selling

Remember: ALWAYS talk on purpose.
Purpose: resolution, a thing intended
The Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary
Experience doesn’t necessarily teach anyone anything. It can mean a repetition of mistakes.
What we need to do is make a deeper study of the relationship between the buyer and the salesperson.
Many salespeople have proudly announced that they have been paid a handsome compliment by a customer. ‘Do you know what they said? They told me I was the best salesperson who had called on them that week!” In fact, this was an indirect criticism, for the salesperson must have made it obvious to the customer that they were making an effort to take an order; and this is the worst form of salesmanship.
Selling has been called the gentle art of giving other people your own way. That sums it up pretty well.
High pressure selling is usually fraudulent selling, and an aggressive salesperson gets nowhere with a professional buyer. Nevertheless, a salesperson must be determined to obtain an order, although the determination mustn’t show.

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Posted by on in Selling
Sales Training is a MUST not a maybe...

“What’s the point of training my staff? I no sooner train them and they leave.”
So many times, this is the lament I hear from retailers. My answer is always the same:
“Your choice is to train them and run the risk of them leaving, or NOT training them and run the risk of them staying…..”
As a store, you’re either getting better or getting worse and in order to succeed, you need a store that is clean, well organised, properly merchandised and with salespeople who are trained well and WANT to sell.
I hasten to add, though, training for the sake of training – with no means of measurement – is a waste of time and money. What is the point of spending time training people if you don’t measure the improvement in your business?
The only reason to ever do sales training is to improve a sales statistic.
Let’s assume you have a store that is ready to sell. The product is displayed beautifully, the store is organised and as clean as can be. All the elements are in place for you to really sell and expand the business. The key element missing is: SALESPEOPLE.

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Posted by on in Musings
If I knew then ...

It’s a funny thing, the decisions you make and where they take you. Never ever in a million years did I think I would “sell” anything.

The thought of selling was anathema to me ... and yet my first job was in a retail business (administration area NOT selling), I worked for a while in a legal firm – billing out hours (but never considering it “selling”), worked on ministerial staff in Federal politics but again never considered anything we did “selling”, and so it went until one day a friend of mine needed my help.

He asked me to help him sell some products he believed in.

I was nearly sick.

Because the “selling” involved standing up in front of people and “selling” his product.

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Posted by on in Musings
Belief Systems

I recently posted this on my facebook page but now think it needs a slightly longer shelf-life.

What makes a BELIEF SYSTEM? This is one of my foundation stones.
I've kept it with me for more years than I intend naming. (It lives in my diary, my journals) I find myself mentally chanting it to myself as I drive, I doodle and scribble it across sticky notes, books...

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Posted by on in Inventory
Stock Turnover

Stock turnover is defined as the number of times during a specific period, usually one year, that the inventory on hand is sold. At a time like this a slow stock turn means that cash flow is lying on the shelves. It is not being turned into cash to pay your creditors and is a recipe for going bankrupt quickly.

In addition to cash flow, a high level of stock turnover in a business has several advantages for any retailer:
Merchandise on the shelves is always fresh.
Losses due to changes in styles and fashions are reduced.
Costs associated with maintaining stock, such as interest, insurance, breakage are lessened.
Your store has a limited amount of space. It must always be your objective to get the most profit per square foot out of your valuable space. Slow movers tie up valuable space.

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Posted by on in Inventory
Stock Rooms & Storage

Are you opening a retail shop? One of your important tasks is to design your stock room. Or perhaps you opened your shop but didn’t really give all that much attention to your stock room and now is the time to get your stock room in order

The high cost per square metre of many retail locations makes it tempting to devote almost every centimetre to the sales floor in order to maximise display space. Certainly the area devoted to merchandise display is the most important part of the shop, but few shops could survive without a rest room, unloading area, storage space and an office.

A comfortable and efficient office, stock area and employee break room make for a happy bookkeeping, buying and stockperson staff [even if it’s you!]. Few shops have enough room to make these areas as spacious as they should be. Remodelling money tends to get put first into the parts of the shop where customers can see it.

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Posted by on in Inventory
Stock Management - it's IMPORTANT

From a store's perspective, stock management means controlling the stock that is being bought so that customer needs are continually satisfied and maximum profitability is achieved.

Remember:  Merchandise is typically the largest single asset in a retail business and, as such, its productivity is critical when determining a retailer's profitability.

Effective Stock Management is important because:

1) Stock is Money
Stock is money invested and the profitability and financial viability of the retailer depends on the return obtained from that investment.
No stock or the wrong stock means no sales and no income. Since stock is the prime generator of revenue, having the right stock in the right quantities at the right time for the customer is fundamental.

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Posted by on in Inventory
Controlling Your Stock Levels

From a store's perspective, stock management means controlling the stock that is being bought so that customer needs are continually satisfied and maximum profitability is achieved.

Remember:  Merchandise is typically the largest single asset in a retail business and, as such, its productivity is a critical determinant of any retailer's profitability.

Effective Stock Management is vitally important because:
Stock is Money
Stock is money invested and the profitability and financial viability of the retailer depends on the return obtained from that investment.

No stock or the wrong stock means no sales and no income.  Since stock is the prime generator of revenue, having the right stock in the right quantities at the right time for the customer is fundamental.

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Posted by on in Financials
Signs of Trouble Ahead

It’s easy to fall into one of two diametrically opposed camps at the moment: “The Oh Me, Oh My, We are all Doomed, Doomed I tell you” mob, or the slightly cocky and arrogant “Recession? What Recession – Stop Making Excuses – It’s all in your head” gang.

The truth – just like the hole in the doughnut – is probably somewhere around the middle.

It is important not to get caught up in perceptions and make decisions based on community sentiment – but to closely examine your own business and the things that you can control.

How long since you took your eyes of the economy and focused down into the heart of your business?

Here are some warning signs that you should be watching out for – the indicators that as well as the massive changes out on the marketplace it might now be time to implement some change –some improvements – of your own.

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