So, we’ve have had a wonderful Christmas, trade has been strong, inventory has moved beautifully, staff are highly motivated after beating their personal best over this period, database has grown substantially, plenty of cash reserves, best practice experiential retailing on display and all-in-all a brilliant “fit” result with plenty of momentum into the New Year.
Does that sound like your retail business? Beating last year comfortably and sailing to a record result, ready to expand and grow the brand?
Or are we a little slower getting the new year started? Perhaps we are a little more unfit than we care to show? Are our sales a little soft, best people leaving, margins down, stock built up and a general unfit apathy in the place?
If this is the case, then perhaps we are the perfect time to review our business fitness and build some New Year’s business fitness resolutions.
We see business fitness as having 10 essential success factors. These factors are:
- Omni channel – consider your business less as a series of retail shops (or a single shop and a website) rather as one seamless network of branded customer touch points which customers can conveniently access in their own time, at their own home, or in store if they seek a full immersive brand experience.
- Strength – the ability to have a strong competitive brand with a sustainable point of difference that is constantly evolving.
- Power – the ability to exert maximum influence within a market place through branding, product and pricing manoeuvres that lead the market and consumer perceptions. Don’t be intimidated by international entrants, power comes from knowing your market and being confident in your strengths as a unique and well-positioned retailer.
- Agility – the ability to read the market and respond in a manner that is both dexterous and nimble. Having all areas of the business respond in a seamless and co-ordinated manner.
- Speed – the ability to move faster than the competitor in providing a customer solution. Running hand-in-hand with agility, speed can ensure you’re a step ahead, and can evaluate new trends and technology before your competitors and ensure you’re proactive not reactive.
- Flexibility – the ability to adapt plans or alter the operating strategy to secure a better outcome for the business. The retail sector is anything but static, so your business plan and attitude should reflect this.
- Endurance – The ability to ‘weather the storm’ and to operate in a consistent and successful manner.
- Skill – exhibiting high capability in all aspects of the business and effectively co-ordinating all the many variables that a retail business requires
- Co-ordination – the ability to integrate the above listed components so that effective movements are achieved and all aspects of the business work together effectively in unison.
- Systems – highly developed operating systems that underpin, collect and collate all the information, data, measurements and processes that are critical to the management of a fit business. This includes all operational systems being in place to ensure the maximum probability of delivering a consistently profitable product to a loyal customer base.
Throughout these success factors, the customer should always be at the forefront. Profitable customer centricity is essential to the success of any retail business. That is operating with a focus on customer engagement that is profitable for both parties.
This focus inoculates the retail organization by informing their decision making and market delivery to achieve a consistently high and profitable customer experience. Your frontline staff are the ones speaking to customers day in and day out, they know what they want, so start the year by listening to their ideas and comments from the Christmas trading period. You may find your most important business fitness resolutions may come from them!
So when you’re setting your New Year’s business resolutions for 2016, keep the 10 ‘business fitness’ success factors in mind. Don’t just blindly follow the leader this year, have confidence to create and enhance on a retail offer that makes you stand out from the crowd.
Keep agile, keep innovating and listen to your customers more than ever before and you will be set for a ‘fit’ 2016.
Happy ‘fit’ retailing!
Brian Walker is founder and CEO of retail consulting company, Retail Doctor Group. He specialises in the development and implementation of retail and franchise strategies.