All across America, more parking lots and retail stores are sitting empty. Where there was once a thriving store and a multitude of customers to sell to, now nothing remains but an empty reminder of better days gone by. Is there cause for concern, or are things simply readjusting before the next big wave of business kicks off?
Let's be real about a couple things. Long term, most economic indicators are pointing in a positive direction and real growth is happening in a lot of communities. However, the past couple years have also consisted of store closings and bankruptcies from several large retail chains. Nothing makes this point any louder than Sears having to file for bankruptcy in 2018.
Why did Sears fail? They lost all their customers.
The retail customer is different than ever before. Sure, it's easy to blame Amazon for undercutting prices on EVERYTHING, but ask yourself what your company has done to attract the new generation of customers? Do you advertise differently? Do you have an online presence? Who handles your social media? All of those matter more than ever.
One thing has never changed though. Your customers still value their time more than ever. In order to compete in the new world of retail sales, you must have a plan to make shopping faster and easier for every customer that calls, clicks, or walks in your door. If you want to attract more customers, offer to drop off their new purchase on the same day it was purchased. Consider re-arranging the store so that the most purchased items are easily found out front or in a special section where they are close together. Consider self checkouts and additional cashiers. Promote your name within the local community. Do fund raisers for local non profits at your store location. In short, do anything and everything you can to make YOUR store the first option for anyone in the local community.
More than anything else, focus on the customer experience. What can we do better or faster than our competition? Remember, your company is not immune to failure and messing up from time to time. It's a dog eat dog world in retail sales. Hopefully, the Sears bankruptcy is the warning light that tells you to pull over and check under the hood before your engine blows up.
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