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Friday, 28 October 2016

10 Tips to add that extra bling to the festive season sales and profits

As the festive season is in progress, there is a lot retailers can do to bank more sales and boost profits as much as possible. The key is to be proactively prepared. If retail businesses expect to grab larger portions of the festive shopping cake, it is up to the retailers to take charge and make it happen.

1.    Have enough product on hand
Plan for sufficient buffer stock to meet the targeted sales volume for the season. Keep the warehouse inventory handy and the display amply stocked so customers have feel spoilt for choice.

2.    Focus on cross-selling and upselling
Identify which potential products can be coupled for sales to add value to a sale (cross-selling) and products that have big-ticket or upgraded models that can be suggested for customers to consider (upselling). Slow-moving items can be offered as complementary products or repackaged as a special buy in combination with best-sellers to get the slow movers out the door.

3.    Stand apart from the competition
Highlight the most distinctive features of the mainstream merchandise with the right communication or offer some new and unique products that cannot be found elsewhere, to attract the attention of curious customers looking for the latest in the season.

4.    Deck the stores to a “happy place” to encourage sales
Set the festive ambience at the stores with the right paraphernalia to match the season – merchandise displays, lighting, colours, music and such other means to delight customers. Focus on creating a space that is shopper friendly.

5.    Collect all the customer data you can
The festive season will bring in new customers. Capture every customer’s data. Further, track and analyze their buying behavior and preferences to spot which products are trending up and which are getting eluded to be able to personalize offerings and boost loyalty.

6.    Know your customer
Know what customers are really looking for in terms of shopping experience in the festive season. Take the time and effort to ask questions and receive actionable feedback from all channels. Understand the demographics of the region and choose your product offerings accordingly.

7.    Keep product knowledge a priority
Make sure in-store salespeople know the product features and benefits thoroughly. Moreover store staff should be well versed with the technology at the counters to be able to service customers faster. Ensure product features and USPs are clearly highlighted for easy reference.

8.    Improve customer service
Focus on customer centricity by understanding customers better and then servicing them accordingly. Employ technologies to enhance customer service particularly during peak business periods and to ensure safe transactions. Enhanced customer experience can help induce repeat purchases.

9.    Plan for the last-minute frenzy
Employ the right skills and technologies to handle in-store as well as online traffic on the e-commerce website. Keep the supply chain engine running through the season to ensure sufficient stock is always handy through careful planning and allocation of stocks across all retail touch points.

10.    Manage finances to last the season
Plan the pre-season stock allocation and in-season procurement of inventory to last through the entire festive shopping season, which is starting earlier and lasting longer each year. This makes it crucial to handle budgets accordingly.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

How to manage customers that are difficult

With the holiday season less than a month away, shoppers are already planning their purchases in terms of products, budget and time. As soon as the holiday shopping season kicks off, retailers can expect an overwhelming rush. While this could be a good time for retailers to target more sales and boost profits, there could be other aspects that could put retailers in a spot of bother.

One of the effects of the holiday shopping rush is that customers are more demanding, have less time and attention span, and are not willing to compromise. In other words, they may become very difficult to handle and retailers could have a tough time managing them.

In order to help retailers negotiate such occurrences of dealing with not-so-pleasant holiday shopping experiences, here are some simple tips that could prove to be effective:

Listen: Shoppers who are upset need to be heard. So allow your customers to speak their heart out about anything that is unpleasant to them. Active listening would allow retailers to consciously assimilate and comprehend the issues their customers are facing, rather than being judgmental towards them. Active listening will be reflected in the retailers approach towards understanding the customers and this would leave a positive impression on the customers. They will feel that they are being given a fair importance and thus instill a sense of trust in the retail business resolving their issues.

Act: Once the customers have vented out their problems to the retailers, it is now up to the retailers to act. They need to take the necessary measures to resolve the customers’ issues. Retailers need to come up with a solution that would be feasible for both, their customers and themselves. If the retail business is unable to resolve the problem upfront, they should request for an appropriate time and respond within the stipulated time.

Repeat: There will be multiple instances where retailers will come across customers that are very difficult to handle and manage. The two steps mentioned above thus need to be employed time and again by retail businesses to reduce the chances of lost sales and the number of disgruntled customers they would need to deal with.

Fore planning, resilience, the right mind-set and treating every customer as an important asset for their business could enable retailers to effectively listen to their customers and act appropriately, making them the preferred retailer that customers go to for a happy shopping experience.

Stay tuned to know the 10 tips that could add extra bling to the festive season sales and profits.

Monday, 10 October 2016

3 P’s for Effective Retailing

Retail as a business, is highly complicated as there are numerous aspects and operations involved in its successful and smooth functioning. Right from stocking a product in the store to the customer checking out of the store with that product, the entire flow can be broken down into intermediate activities that need to be managed carefully for the overall business to be complete. Now, with the influence of advanced technology, the scope of retail has further expanded to incorporate a host of other concepts and functions, thus complicating the whole process. But from the olden days till date, to run a retail business effectively, no matter how complicated it is, there are 3 basic and important aspects that need to be taken care of:

People – Retail is all about people. The retailer or the business owner along with the other employees including the store staff and most importantly, the buying customer are all important for retail. Even in the case of online retailing or e-tailing, there are people working in the background for the business to run efficiently, as well as to ensure that orders are fulfilled right up to the customer’s doorstep. The need of the hour for retail businesses to survive is to become ‘customer-centric’, and customers needless to say again, are people. The importance of people cannot be stressed any further and the right people management, be it customers or employees, would definitely go a long way in making the business better.

Product – The core objective of retail is to ensure that customers can procure/avail the products/services they desire, when they need them. In simple words, retailing is where demand for a certain product is successfully fulfilled by the retail channels. As such, the ‘product’ is a necessary entity for the business to take place. Retailers need to be aware of the products that customers are looking for and have them readily available and at reasonable costs. Having the right product at the right place at the right time in the right quantity and at the right price is key for running a successful retail business.

Process – A business is set of processes that should be carried out effectively to achieve the objectives of the business. In retail, there are a host of processes that need to be undertaken and managed for the proper functioning of the business. The right systems in place along with pre-defined rules to guide each and every process, and timely monitoring to assess the performance of each function is highly essential for any retail business to not only sustain, but also to garner profit and grow.

The right people with the right products and the right processes, and effective management of the three will help business owners to get it right in retail.