Valentine’s Day just passed us by for another year and it got me thinking about what makes for a good and/or bad Valentine’s Day.  From this, my thoughts drifted to what makes for a good and/or bad retail experience (needless to say, with thoughts like this, you can pretty much guess how my Valentine’s Day went!)…Enough about me, the point is good and not so good experiences typically all come down to the people involved in said experiences.   For a good experience in retail, this means you can’t be the kind of sales associate that breaks hearts, especially when it’s really not that difficult to dish out some retail love for your customers with just a little know-how!  So, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day this week, here’s my top 5 most heartbreaking moves I see out there on the sales floor:

Remember those great “Where’s Waldo?” books?  Finding Waldo was always a challenge.  Seems to me that strong Leadership in retail is often just as hard to find.

The trending topics and areas of concern in the retail industry are always consistent.  Companies struggle with a lack of employee engagement, a lack of synergy in our multi-generational workplaces, a lack of compliance on key standards and inconsistency in execution.

What about the lack of leadership? Should this not be our priority and focus?  After all, it’s the number one reason all of the problems above exist in the first place.

How are your customers being treated every day?  Do you know for sure?  Maybe you’re simply accepting the input and opinions of your management team.  Or maybe you’re just assuming?

Whatever process you use to ensure that store staff is properly servicing your customers, it’s probably time for you to consider taking things to the next level by formalizing your service standards.  Why?  Despite beliefs to the contrary, most retailers fall down in this area … big time!

It's almost the end of January and I am still pondering my Christmas shopping experiences in December. Why am I still pondering this nearly a month later? Well, for starters, I'm a retail consultant.  So this is the kind of stuff I think about constantly.  I'm kind of obsessed with finding ways to improve store performance. Yes, it does make me a bit of a demanding shopper, but let's not forget that your customers are more demanding now than ever before.   

By now we are all settling into the New Year and getting back to some kind of normal in our day-to-day lives, both at home and work.  Many of us have kicked off 2017 with a goal of getting back into fighting shape at the gym, or at minimum, committing to some kind of physical activity as part of our on-going, healthy lifestyle.  This is probably the #1 resolution that we see when the calendar year flips over.  We all want to perform better and to perform better, that means some kind of on-going training.  We accept that this is the only way to achieve our physical fitness goals, so why is it so difficult for us to apply this same kind of thinking to improving performance in our stores? 

Yep.  2017 is going to suck.

OK, not for everyone.  But, certainly for a lot of retailers.  Why?

Well, far too many brick and mortar retailers still haven’t recognized that the in-store experience matters more now than ever before.   It’s too easy for consumers to sit on the couch and with a couple of clicks have whatever they want delivered to their doorstep.   Make no mistake … most consumers would rather go to the store (after all, humans crave social interaction).  But they’re not about to fight traffic, struggle for parking and then be confronted with a mundane shopping experience.

It doesn’t have to be this way. 

The much-anticipated holiday season has now come and gone.  Biggest selling opportunity of the year, right?  How did you do?  Move more merchandise than ever before?  Keep the cash registers running at full tilt?  Set an all-time revenue record?  Good for you!!

Now for the bad news.  Your success wasn’t shared by every retailer.  And it isn’t because the crowds didn’t show up or the weather was too nice.  The ‘sales damage’ we’re talking about was self-inflicted.  What do we mean?

Here we go again!  Yet another consumer group that you need to pay attention to.  But wait, this one isn’t just the imagination of a media article.  Shell commissioned an outstanding research project that sheds light on what they call Convenience Cravers. 

Here’s a snapshot of Shell’s report:

If you’re like most retailers out there, here’s some great news for you – gift card sales over the past several months should push your performance ‘over the top’ in the new year! 

But are you ready to make the most of this bonanza?

Here we are, just 17 'sleeps' away from Christmas day.  How have sales been in your stores so far this holiday selling season?  Hitting your targets?  Celebrating success?  We certainly hope so, because there can hardly be one good reason why you shouldn't be doing better this year than last.

But, ask yourself a bigger question:  Do you have the Christmas spirit yet?  Does your staff? How about your customers?

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