We Can’t Change What We Won’t Acknowledge

A New Year, Will You Grow?

It’s pretty easy to fritter away the time rehashing the old. But our local businesses, or really any business, need to use the long winter months to take action. It’s important to look at what didn’t work. But even more so, it’s important to take responsibility for it and create new actions if we want better outcomes for 2017! If you didn’t like the way 2016 ended, stop looking out the window and start changing your patterns.

There is no argument that business behaviors have changed. Shoppers have changed. In many instances, the way we spend our money has changed. Change is not new. Change is life!

So, what are you going to do? Are you going to talk about the good old days and how it used to be? Are you going to complain that the city or some other organization isn’t doing enough? Or are you going to look at the situation and take a new perspective on your businesses? The choice is yours! The outcome is also yours!

We’ve been dealing with online stores for about two decades now. So it’s time to move on. In fact, there are instances where online stores are actually adding ‘brick and mortar’ stores to add to their customer service. In reverse, an online presence also works for ‘brick and mortar.’ So don’t bemoan it, consider it as an asset. How might you add something to address your customer’s needs and build that all important relationship?

What do ‘brick and mortar’ stores have in their favor? Consider these:

  • smaller can actually respond to change faster
  • you can know your customer personally and face-to-face
  • you can add or subtract inventory fairly quickly
  • you are connected to your community

Bob Phibbs, better known as The Retail Doc, writes a blog that I’ve been following for several years. While offering sound business concepts, he also offers very creative actions you might take. In this post, he offers How to find Strength in Brick and Mortar Stores. They aren’t easy necessarily, including how to add technology and online complements to your business. But he talks about how to thrive now and tomorrow, without getting mired in yesterday and how it used to be.

At the same time, although I believe in shopping locally, no one is obligated to shop anywhere. The job of the retailer (brick and mortar or online) is to create a place where people ‘want’ to shop. Some ways to do that include:

  • sharing unique inventory
  • knowing your customer so that you can recommend items that they may not notice
  • curating your displays to aid in making choices
  • creating in-store events that add excitement and enthusiasm
  • offering services that make it easy for your customer to shop with you

a list of unique holidays for kidsRecently I saw some posts on facebook from our local Havre de Grace Alliance and the City Economic Development Office that offered a list of events for the next 3 months.

Then I found this interesting list that included some of the same but also interesting “National-something” days to offers lots more ‘fun’ into your in-store events.

Whether done as a group (all or most of the shops) or for your individual shop, these are some great ideas/opportunities to offer very creative and different in-store events.

You need to start having fun in your shop. Invite people to visit and then be great hosts when they arrive. People shop in physical stores for an ‘experience’ as much as they do for a product. Start enjoying your shop and sharing your pleasure through your merchandise, customer service and in-store events.

Pay attention to the shopper. If they’re walking in and turning around and walking back out, maybe the entry is stopping them in their tracks. Are you changing some of your display so that it’s interesting to the repeat visitor who comes more frequently? Or do they feel like they’ve seen it all?

What are you waiting for?

Are you standing on the sidewalk asking where all the people are? Certainly tourism and city events help to bring customers to your shop. But what are YOU doing? You chose to put a shingle out and open the doors. You can’t just say, “Here I am, come shop.” How do you find your customer? What tools do you use to bring that customer back more often? How can you help that customer recommend a friend – or two – or three? Posting your sales on facebook is obviously not enough. Waiting for some organization to act is leaving your success in the hands of someone else. It all works together, but only YOU care about your personal business success.

If you wondering just how to get started in this New Year, The Retail Doc offers this post on how to let go, re-imagine, and move forward. Here’s to an awesome 2017! In numerology it’s a ‘one’ year offering new beginnings, new ideas, new energy.

“Make it so… ”


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