20 December 2016

"Make the most of Christmas" by Steve Marsten

We have been handling many questions this week from retailers who are up to their ears with Christmas sales and customers. So I thought I would continue with my previous theme of maximising your profitability over the Christmas period.

One thing we advise our retail clients is to remember what your customers are looking for from your products and services. They want a solution! No joke – this is why it’s crucial to see things through your customers eyes. Many retailers often think that customers are just out to buy socks, diaries or chocolates or whatever nice thing you have on your shelf when really what they are actually buying is a feeling of relief!

As a retailer we want to stack our shelves with all the products that make the AAAARGH-I-DON’T-KNOW-WHAT- TO-BUY! feeling disappear. Great retailers have already been liaising with customers earlier in the year and have been keeping an eye on what’s been selling in other parts of the world over the summer season to gauge the trends. No - there is no guarantee its works in Australia however its worth tracking and filling your store with some of these items. Maybe your customers would like items of a particular colour or a different size. This requires your business to be adaptable. Christmas is the best time to bring out new twists in your best selling items.

I had one client indicate that they hadn’t had time to “dress the store up” for Christmas. Big mistake! You must let some Christmas spirit into your business. Your packaging and your catalogue should have already been prepared with a seasonal look.

Another made the point that they felt that “all the best Christmas products have already been done. So how I do I compete?” Yep that maybe true. Everything has been done before. Everything! But not necessarily by you! Customers don’t necessarily want you to sell incredibly new products however they love seeing new things in YOUR shop.

And finally the classic – “we have been run off our feet – I think we will shut up early this year!” No -this is the time to make hay and maximise your top line. Keep smiling and keep your team smiling and look after each and every customer for as long as you can until you really really have to shut the door on the 24th December!

At Sothertons, we know December is hard work for retailers however its usually the best time to boost that top line. Call us for more tips on 4972 1300 and we hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy new Year.

13 December 2016

Taking the Short Cut. By Tina Zawila.

In today’s busy world, most of us are on the look out for ways to do things faster, travel quicker, and to make life easier.  You could say we are always looking for short cuts! 
As an example, think about community parks and gardens with beautifully paved paths.  However usually you will also find there is a dirt track where one person took a short cut and then everyone followed until it became a path itself.   The dirt track is what people want, they want the short cut, the path of least resistance. They want the easier option.
So if we think about this in a business sense, when we are developing new products and services for our customers, it’s obvious that we need to think about what people want and how they will use your product or service easily and conveniently.
There are a few ways we can determine what people want:
  • We can look at how our customers are using our existing products or services – have they developed their own dirt track?  Are they combining or packaging your products or services in a way that is more convenient or cost effective to them?  If so, can you capitalize on this and modify your offering to suit your customers whilst retaining your margins? 
  • If you have an idea for a new product or service, “launch to learn”.  Get the product or idea out there and ask for feedback or watch how your customers interact and use this prototype, and then modify and refine it to suit them.  Let the customer build the dirt track and then pave it.
  • Finally, listen to your customers and be responsive.  Don’t resist their modifications, embrace them!  Sometimes we try to cover up, or put grass over the dirt track, when in fact we need to pave it.  If your customers want a variation of your product or service, don’t try to continue to sell your version, modify your offering to meet the market.
The world is changing rapidly and our customers’ needs are changing rapidly too.  People will always look for the easiest route to save time and money.

The professional team at Sothertons is always here to listen to your ideas and help you grow your business.  Call us today on 4972 1300.

07 December 2016

Retailers – time to dig out the Santa hats…. By Steve Marsten.

Well the Christmas month has arrived – the decorations and tinsel is dusted off and hung, the carols start playing over and over again and get in your head and drive you crazy. People wear colourful clothes and funny hats! Yep - I’m lovin it!!
Christmas is also a time of spending for many and so its time to consider how to make the most of your business shopfront. If you are in retail and you are not seeing increased sales at this time of the year, then its time for a rethink.
Start with staff – it’s never more important then to remind staff to smile especially in front of customers. If they’re struggling with that concept then perhaps early Christmas holidays maybe necessary.
Dress up your store. It doesn’t have to be with too much. It doesn’t have to be with Christmas trees and lights. Think about what decorations go with your style of shop. Decorations need to reflect your brand and personality. Sometimes a little is enough.
What are your Christmas deals? As part of the festive spirit offer a special discount. Perhaps only on certain stock items and rotate them through the month. Perhaps 12% off everything for the last 12 days of Christmas. Be innovative. Talk and plan with your staff on how they will operate. This is the busy time so it needs to be “all hands on deck”.
Consider a promo stand in your store to feature a particular stock item or service. Often this attracts people in just to check things out. That can lead to staff engagement and a sale. Consider a “boxing day sale” before Boxing Day! A Super Santa Sale on the Saturday before Christmas or some freebies with every purchase over $50 or $100.
Consider a gift wrapping service – free or otherwise. This can be a drawcard in itself. I have seen it do remarkable things in some businesses. For example a business owner told me that the Gift Wrapping service encourages people to buy more gifts in the one spot. Of course – that’s why Myer and DJ’s do it.
So get the decorations out and up, pump up those Xmas carols, allow the staff to dig out their Christmas T-Shirts and Elf hats and shine up those smiles. Happy staff attract sales! And enjoy the Christmas cheer. At Sothertons it’s one of the busier months however it’s also an enjoyable time of the year. For more information on improving your sales – call us on 4972 1300.