7 Tips for Retailers (as seen in The Daily Telegraph)

How to stay on top of retail’s fluctuating environment

Shopping habits have shifted dramatically in recent years, and for retailers the competition is getting even stiffer. Businesses need to raise their game to drive growth. Tony Scott, retail adviser for the Forum of Private Business and director of retail consultants Retail Spa, has these tips:

1 Get to grips with your business

The retail industry is growing increasingly competitive. Businesses that flourish know their business inside out so they can plan trading strategy around it. They’ll be able to capitalize on their strengths, respond quickly to missed opportunities and know which elements of their business are less successful.

2 Ring-fence Monday mornings

The biggest challenge for small retailers is the lack of time. A multitude of tasks can be overwhelming. However, nothing is as important as looking at your numbers in detail every week. Monday is often the best time for this. Spend a few hours working out what the figures are telling you This should inform your plan of action for the next seven days’ trading at least.

3 Embrace the detail

Looking at top line performance alone won’t tell you the key drivers and where you are losing business. When analyzing your sales, always look beneath the surface – by product category and by supplier and brand to discover where the winners and losers are.

4 Note the figures

Scrutinise sales and stocks – what were your best sellers, what product groups or brands were the best performers, where you are overstocked or understocked and which lines have sold out. Document the findings, ask why and then react to what you learn.

5 Look at the wider picture

When reviewing your performance, build up a history of what happened in the previous week. Consider outside factors such as weather, road works, town activity – anything that could have had an impact on your sales.

6 Structure your buying

Regular performance reviews and documented findings will drive your forward trading and buying strategy. Set buying plans using your hierarchy and base them on your history, individual product sales, missed potential and new tends/products. Failure to buy in this way will destroy net margin through unnecessary markdowns and missed opportunities will severely limit your growth.

7 Seek advice

If in doubt, seek help. Advice is on hand from a variety of sources. The Forum of Private Business, for example works in partnership with retail Spa to provide shop owners will support.