Don’t Manage the Measurements


I am always amazed at how many retailers spend so much of their time trying to manage “sales,” “margins,” and “profits.” Those are measurements to help us financially, but they come as a result of accumulated success of individual transactions (sales) or accumulated success of buying and successfully running the business. They are not thermometers, they are thermostats and savvy retailers try to change the movement of the thermometer, which then moves the thermostat in the desire direction.

Successful retailing starts with selling. It’s often defined as, “trying to persuade someone to take an action you’d like him or her to take.” As a retail leader, you need to manage first (or influence) the decision process. That decision starts with their desire to come into your store, stay and shop. It moves to taking items from the shelves and then actually pulling out their wallet and buying an item, or many items. All along they way they are making decisions that you can impact.

How do you do that?

You start by examining each product, each sign, each display, each word in every ad or social media post, each employee’s behavior—basically you manage the customer’s decision making process by examining every facet of your business down to the cleanliness of your rest rooms and carpeting to be sure what you are doing helps the customer make a positive buying decision. Why? Because each facet of your business contributes to sales (and return business).

To the extent you make it easy for your customer to make positive decisions, you’ll begin to create cumulative success. And, cumulative success is what moves the thermostat of results.

It’s a game of inches.

I recently visited a Nike store for some shoes. I was expecting a typical warehouse-type store. What I received as a customer was totally different. First the store was immaculate. Second, they had a solid inventory (which I could have found a Zappos). But what really made this store different was the sales associates. They were everywhere and literally scrambling to help people find shoes that fit and were comfortable. As a result, both my wife and I bought shoes—two pairs each! They did all the little things right and it led to a multiple purchase. Will I go back? Absolutely.

Growing your retail business is a step-by-step process that takes everything into consideration because your customer takes everything into consideration. Nothing slips their notice and also, nothing escapes their appreciation (whether they say it or not).

Do you want to grow your retail business? Start by examining every facet and make certain it will lead to positive decisions by your customer.


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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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