Strategizing will get you further than stressing out about your retail store and the impact of the Coronavirus. If you own your own retail shop, you are finding yourself in unprecedented times. Many business owners, from barber shops to restaurants are experiencing the challenges that brick and mortar retailers have been struggling with, but on steroids.
Unlike other articles, I am not going to go into details about the potential impact. We all know it is grim. My goal is to share strategies that you can execute when your store reopens or if you are still operating in one capacity or another, put in place now. Now is the time to fight, fight to the death!
Real Life Example of a Retail Shopkeeper who is fighting back
My sister owns a wonderful boutique called Green Velvet. She went from believing she would go bankrupt on the first day of this outbreak to virtually overnight, reinventing how her store operates.
How did she reinvent her shop? She is doing live video chats, virtual tours via FaceTime, Instagram and Facebook posts to show the super cute assortment that she curated for spring.
The Post Office has become her second home! Elizabeth created a fun gift box that is customizable and can be sent to friends and family during this challenging time. The list goes on. The point is, she has created a new reality for her business and you can too.
Time to Cut Expenses!
Now is the time to evaluate every expense you have. Talk to your landlord about your rent. Try and negotiate rent cost or more time to pay. It is important to talk to them with empathy and kindness, they are facing the same financial challenges you are.
If you have new products coming in, contact the vendor and see if you can cancel the order. Darlene Y Mitchell suggests asking the bank to notify you everytime your credit card is used without a chip so you know if a vendor is preparing to ship product. Another strategy is limiting all store events right now. It’s a cash flow killer! The maxImum discount is 25% off or BOGO50 (Buy one, get one 50 off). If discounts are necessary, focus on older inventory that isn’t selling. Darlene loves the idea of mixing new merchandise with the older merchandise to make it look fresh.
Payroll is the largest controllable expense
Payroll is one of the largest controllable expenses at your store. If you are closed, your team isn’t working. You might feel guilty about laying them off, but the truth is, if you don’t have the cash flow to pay them, placing them on furlough might save your store. Don’t get into debt with no/low sales. Furlough means they are still your employee but not getting paid. They are free to get a job elsewhere until you’re able to bring them back to work.
Pent Up Demand – it’s a real thing!
Pent up demand is a real phenomenon. Economists use this term to describe a return to consumerism following a period of decreased spending. What this means is while your next month/quarter may not be as large as you originally planned, it will be busy and you need to be prepared! Thomai Serdari, Professor at NYU, shares two plausible theories of what could happen with retail. She says consumers will spend less and realize they don’t need so much stuff in their life or the opposite will happen, having been home for weeks, consumers will want something to lift them up. Brick and mortar will see the influx of traffic giving consumers the entertainment they crave. (This will be me!)
Simple Strategies to be prepared to W-I-N!
I like to keep strategies as simple as possible. People, Operations and Brand are the key categories.
- Stay in touch with your team. Text, FaceTime, email, call. Make sure they know you care about them. This is a great way to hold onto them so you have your amazing team when your store reopens.
- Evaluate each member of the team and determine what additional training they might benefit from. (Examples include: cross train team to execute all the different roles in the store so that you have flexibility on the team)
- Clean up employee files, Manager desk, break room and the communication station (bulletin boards or however you communicate to the team). Take old content down and ensure all current information is posted.
Store Operations strategies:
- Reorganize the backroom. Group like items together, mark all goods to their current retail price, organize props and ensure they are stored in the back corner of the stockroom. These are all great ways to get the backroom organized for the influx of sales that will require goods flowing to the floor quickly.
- Clean, clean, clean! Now is a great time to clean the entire store. Front windows to backroom and everything in between.
- Stock the Cashwrap. Now is the time to make a list of supplies you need (and don’t). Put things where they belong to make the checkout process quick and easy for your customers. Remember, it’s the last place to make a positive impact on the customer and sometimes that last place we prioritize.
- Stand outside of the shop and look at it through the eyes of your customers. What do you see that needs attended to?
- Walk the floor from the front windows to the displays and face-outs. Make a list of everything you see that needs attention.
- Steaming product is a great way to show off the style and quality. Wrinkled clothing takes away from the perceived value of the item.
- Show product on displays that you have enough quantity/sizes in to sell. Changing the mannequin when you are busy is a task you don’t need the team distracted with.
Time to Jump In
I hope this gave you ideas to get moving on your survival guide! You can do this! Print off this post if it helps to use it as a checklist. Or just use if for inspiration and create your own list. Whatever you do, remember to focus on what you have control of. This is a great opportunity for you to be a light in a dark situation!
Don’t assume you won’t make it. The way to get through this hard time is to be creative and strategize.
I am rooting for you,