Planning to win the game of retail

“Those who believe that the route must remain fixed don’t get very far. Those who believe that the destination must remain fixed change the world.”  – Simon Sinek.


Recently, two of our surf retail clients were recognised with major awards celebrating the surf industry’s best products, brands and retailers. Hosted by Australia’s Surf Retailers’ Federation, Star Surf & Skate in WA and Saltwater Wine in NSW were awarded Surf Retailer of the Year in their respective states.   Reflecting on their success, I went back to the beginning and considered just how much the power of planning can truly win this game of retail.

When you embark on a journey with bags packed, you usually know your destination. Yet many retailers don’t define their destination but still set off with their “bags packed”, leading to common issues that can result in a retailer being less than fit for business. To help you understand how to book your destination; here are a few tips for a smoother and exciting journey.

Start with the outcome in mind

I always like to say that every business is for sale and the objective of the business is to understand at the start; the value of the business at the end. From this point, every moment of every day is spent driving the business towards that goal. Successful retailers have a firm business destination in mind and then point everyone to that destination at every opportunity in both vision and concrete detail.

Understand your unique offering

The fittest retailers understand why they are different and communicate this unique sales proposition with clarity to their audiences. This uniqueness is informed by their awareness of marketplace opportunities and trends, competitor activities, economic opportunities, customer feedback, innovation in retail practice and often intuition.

Creating a strategy to get to the destination/vision

Writing a business strategy is an article in itself but the most important thing to note is that it should continue to define the business outcome sought and there are some key ground rules for a successful and understood strategy including:

  • Being specific in detail including desired size of the company, number of stores, planned locations and so on.
  • Define all economic forecasts leading to the desired company value – again start with the end in mind.
  • Drill into the strategy detail and planning to make this feasible. A simple framework of the “7Ps” of product, price, people, place, promotion, process and performance is a good starting point and will assist with the structure of the strategy.

Are you demonstrating the company’s core values and beliefs?

Passion and commitment to the cause not only provides the “people glue”; it is the source of energy, inspiration and innovation that’s critical as a strategic differentiator. What’s more, the absolute demonstration of these core values and beliefs builds trust and advocacy among your consumers. The IBM Institute for Business Value defines “trust” as “an assured reliance on the character, ability or truths presented by someone or something; one in which confidence is placed. Trust comes in varying degrees and is something that can take years to earn, but only seconds to lose.”

Write, review and evolve a business plan

Our advice to all retailers is to initiate, review and evolve the strategic and operational implementation planning at the same time every year. A sound business plan is SMART (specific, measurable, accurate, realistic and timely) and should, while pointing towards the destination, be precise, easily understood and passed through all communication lines.

Knowing your destination and pointing your entire company towards it is planning to win. And who knows – perhaps we’ll be seeing your business name in the awards roll call shortly.

Happy fit retailing!

Brian Walker is Managing Director of Australasia’s leading retail consultancy, Retail Doctor Group.


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments