Since March 2, 2020, The ROI's Co-Founders have been offering insights, strategic approaches, and online resources for independent retailers affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
These appeared first in The ROI NEWS.
Is 2020 continuing to wear you down? No surprise. And no shame in that!
Retailers are among the most optimistic folks we know. But the relentlessness of the disruptions and in some cases tragedies of the three pandemics – the virus, the economic meltdown, and the civil unrest – followed by the wildfires in the West and the hurricanes in the Southeast, now compounded by the uncertainties of national election. Oh, and then there's the impending flu season. And... And...
It IS a lot. And it feels as if there is no relief in sight. But maybe there is.
All of which brought to mind our work with a retailer during the 2008-2009 Great Recession. Beset by a similar compounding of dire and uncontrollable threats, one of the owners shared his technique for maintaining his sanity: get out onto the sales floor. Talk to the customers!
Great advice, isn't it? Especially for retailers. When times get discouraging, go talk with the customers! Wherever you can find them.
Sure, there may not be as many of them as Before The Pandemics. But don't let your remorse about that prevent you from enjoying those who do come to your store!
Yes, retailers are optimistic. But even more fundamental, retailers are people-people. They draw energy from other people.
So – especially when the news of the day can seem so downbeat, seek out your customers. And enjoy!
* (Remember when you said that, John? We sure do!)
Let's assume your stores have been closed for weeks now.
We recognize how conscientious you are. So, after paying what you can to your employees (and yourself), the next most-worrisome dilemma is your rent.
As you likely have discovered, a common choice for many landlords is to offer to defer your payments. But that means taking on more debt, as those payments are only being postponed to a later point in time.
You need a better solution than that.
YOU are the leader we need now!
Most of the people who receive our weekly newsletter from The Retail Owners Institute® are either owners of stores (duh...) or work with retail owners, not only in America but around the world.
When you think about it, owners and senior management of retail businesses are looked upon as leaders everyday, by employees, by suppliers, by customers, by their families and often by the media. You are community builders.
Amidst this pandemic, your leadership is more vital than ever.
As more stores are able to reopen, and more shoppers are willing to emerge, what will they encounter?
For retailers, the uncertainties caused by the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic are unrelenting.
So, what should we do with this additional "found time," waiting for the customers? That's a question we CAN answer!
As you are sorting out how best to reopen, we encourage you to be bold about embracing technology. Not just a POS system upgrade with better e-commerce capability. There's much more that warrants your attention.
There's a whole alphabet of resources out there, already being embraced by many: ML (machine learning); AI (artificial intelligence); AR (augmented reality), QR (Quick Response matrix barcodes). All enabling chatbots, robots, digital displays and much else to become "smarter" and more applicable.
Since Labor Day in the US is the first Monday in September, this year it happens as late as possible. Labor Day will not be celebrated until next Monday, September 7.
Most years, most folks would be perfectly happy to have August stretched out even longer. Ahh, those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, right?
And so, meanwhile, we regard Consumer Confidence as THE key indicator of consumer spending. Just last week, the Conference Board reported that Consumer confidence is at a six year low*. Ouch!
But, was that a surprise to retailers? Not really. Most retailers are well along in coping with these challenges.
As your stores are able to re-open after the coronavirus shutdowns, how they look tells a powerful story. And for you, a great opportunity.
This is no time to try to go back to normal, back to business-as-usual. Nor to simply have all kinds of protective shields in your store. While necessary, how welcoming is that?
Instead, this actually IS a second chance to make a good first impression! Take full advantage!
Since 1999, empowering retailers and store owners to "Turn on your financial headlights!"