A few years ago, I had the pleasure of listening to Victor Cheng speak about how to recession-proof your business. Victor is a well-regarded author and dynamic speaker who has appeared on Fox Business Channel and MSNBC, and been featured in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and World Report, SmartMoney magazine, Inc. magazine and TheStreet.com.
Victor’s advice is centered on four steps:
- Get your head focused on the world as it is, recognizing that there’s still money being spent, focusing specifically on your customers and being prepared to adapt to a changed environment,
- Solve a problem or need that your customers care about,
- Solve those problems in a very unique way, and
- Be more aggressive in marketing your distinctiveness, not less.
His advice has a lot of relevance for small and independent retailers. It has become clear that consumer spending patterns have changed, and are unlikely to revert back to the way they once were any time soon. Consumers are far more value-conscious across all spending categories, and as small and independent retailers have learned all too well, it has been particularly true for discretionary spending.
Small and independent retailers cannot continue to do business as they always have and expect results any different than they’ve experienced in the last six to nine months, much less the last three to five years. They will have to adapt in all phases of their business in order to begin growing their sales again, and every change they make must be focused on their existing customers, and those customer’s current needs.
Value has to be added to the value proposition. For many small and independent retailers, the value proposition is built around distinctive products, compelling assortments, a unique store and a memorable shopping experience. While customers are certainly more price-conscious, and that must be reflected in merchandise assortments, adding value to the value proposition for most small and independent retailers means creating even greater emphasis on those things that differentiates them.
Finally, small and independent retailers can no longer afford to be passive. It’s no longer enough to unlock the doors and focus on what goes on inside the stores. Small and independent retailers must be more aggressive in getting out of their stores, both to be a more visible part of their community, but also to become more involved in the community that is their core customers, and organizing that community around the passions that makes the store unique and distinctive.
We are now living in the “new normal”. Every small and independent retailer must take this to heart in order to move forward. Things have changed. So must small and independent retailers.
Ted Hurlbut is a retail consultant, coach and speaker who helps independent retailers increase sales, profitability and cash flow by leveraging his deep expertise and proven retail know-how, Get his FREE report “The 16 Essential Elements of a WINNING Independent Retail Strategy” Visit: HurlbutaAsociates.com