As we come to the end of the summer, independent retailers are increasingly focused on the last four months of the year. Many are looking for their sales to finally turn, while expecting the retail competition to be ferocious. Still, it’s also necessary to have an eye on what it’s going to take to succeed over the next one to three years, and beyond.
In this environment, there are two imperatives for independent retailers:
- The first is to conserve cash.
- The second is to strengthen your brand equity to achieve critical mass.
Building Your Brand Equity
Strengthening your brand equity is the key to differentiating yourself in a highly competitive marketplace. For independent retailers, brand equity is the presence you’ve been able to establish in your customer’s minds and in your trading area. It is the credibility that you’ve amassed that makes you a primary retail destination.
Brand equity accrues from the one thing that makes you unique and distinctive. It is far more than just merchandise. It’s the passion, expertise, service, and shopping experience that your customers have come to count on. It is built one customer at a time, by skilled, passionate, engaged salespeople.
But in an environment that’s likely to remain challenging for some time to come, achieving critical mass for your brand is also essential. In retailing, achieving critical mass in the marketplace means more than just maintaining a presence, it means attaining a dominant, near-iconic status with your target customer base. Achieving critical mass requires a commitment to growth, beyond the scale and comfort of your current business. You must be prepared to stretch. Being good is no longer going to be good enough. You’re going to have to be great, in a more expansive way.
Achieving critical mass means not just consistently delivering memorable, value-laden customer experiences within your store, it also means stepping out, commanding the stage, creating some noise and capturing the attention of the broader community around you.
There are a number of ways to do this, but my point here is not to run through a long list of possible ideas. Putting your head together with your salespeople will likely generate a number of great ideas. My point, rather, is to rouse anybody that thinks they can continue to do what they’ve always done and be successful.
The consumer is far more discriminating on how they spend their money. The competition is fierce to capture those dollars. You must aggressively build your brand equity, and achieve critical mass, if you are to succeed.
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
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