Change happens. And it happens more and more frequently. Retailers are driving it. Consumers are craving it. And we’re now in this endless cycle of change where as soon as something is cool, it’s not cool anymore.
My contemporary house, with its monochromatic scheme now seems bland as home retailers are pushing floral-inspired fabrics and prints. And my striped and patterned clothing seems outdated as fashion is becoming more monochromatic.
Stop the insanity! But that’s like trying to stop a locomotive with a styrofoam wall.
Change will always happen. And it’s occurring at an accelerated pace.
In my years working in the world of beauty, we found the escalation in the number of skin care brands was tied to the growth in R & D and technology. As new formulas were created, more and more people wanted the latest and greatest miracle in a bottle. And that pushed even more R & D. And so the cycle continued.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
You have to change with the world or the world changes without you (rendering your retail concept irrelevant).
Too many retailers rest on their original concept, eventually driving them out of business. Successful businesses, be it restaurants, retailers or any other service business have to continually introduce new products to keep customers coming back.
So how do you remain relevant in an ever-changing world?
- Stay ahead of trends. Read trade magazines. Read consumer lifestyle magazines that are relevant to your business. Take meetings with existing and new vendors when they call. Attend trade shows. Shop the competition. Ask questions of everyone. Any information you can get your hands on for your industry is going to allow you stay abreast of what’s going on and more importantly, what’s relevant.
- Test new product lines. Armed with all of your knowledge, you need to put it to work. Maintain your current best-selling lines, but bring in a new line. Or trade out an underperforming line for a new line. The goal is to constantly evolve your merchandise mix to get the right lines into your store to maximize your inventory position.
- Be in touch with your clients and customers. Rely on them for their knowledge of products they know about and request that you might not carry. When you bring in a new line (and sell a product to them from the line), follow up the next time they’re in the store and ask them how they liked it. Or send them an email. Customer feedback is the best way to gauge how you’re doing. But that’s only half of it. You have to actually then do something with the information. Act on it or it’s just a waste of time and energy.
Change is good. But as we all know, change for the sake of change will never achieve the same results as change that’s made for strategic, business and customer reasons. Change is a must in today’s retail world. Just make sure you change not for the sake of change, but as necessary and appropriate for your business.