If you’re in retail, there’s a good chance that you’re keen to see the back of 2012 as quickly as possible.
As our sister site SmartCompany reported this week, more than 650 retail store closures have been announced since the beginning of the year, and more than 1,600 workers left without jobs.
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Firms such as Fletcher Jones, GAME, WOW Sight and Sound, Dick Smith and Speciality Fashion Group have all had to downsize as consumers continue to save rather than spend. Myer has become the latest to announce cuts, with 100 staff set to leave the department store chain.
With the big retail players struggling, it might appear that any start-up operation – with a fraction of the marketing and buying power – stands little chance.
However, the shifting retail landscape isn’t all doom and gloom if you are savvy enough to recognise the trends that impact your business. Indeed, some retailers can even flourish, given the right business model and strategy.
So, how can you do it? We’ve picked out 10 things retailers need to focus on if they are to survive and prosper, as told to us by the experts over the last 12 months.
To read each tip, click on the tabs below.
1. Know your customer
Brian Walker, managing director of Retail Doctor Group, says retailers need to determine who their core customer is before they begin operating.
“If your key customer is a young woman, what’s her lifestyle? What does she do? How does she interact with social media? How are you relevant to that? Smaller businesses need to be particularly adroit at this and act accordingly,” Walker says.
Similarly, National Retailers Association spokesman Michael Lonie says retailers need to be honest with themselves about whether the stock they’re carrying is of value to their core consumer.
“Ask yourself whether the product you’re carrying is what the consumer wants, and not what the shop owner thinks the consumer should have,” he says.
Dr Colin McLeod, the former executive director of Monash University’s Australian Retail Studies Centre, said last year that local retailers like Lorna Jane and Aesop are prime examples of businesses that understand their customer and consistently bring them what they want.
“Even though they are a few years old now, [both retailers] started as ideas in their founders’ bedroom at home and grew into very successful retail chains,” McLeod said.
“There are lots of stores that sell women’s active wear or skincare products, and many of these stores carry some of the most powerful brands in the world, but these companies have found a way to be successful because they have a business philosophy and culture built around an outstanding experience for customers.”