But ask people, especially retailers, if they are ready for the holidays and that question is usually followed by a groan or skepticism at best. Its almost like this season of the year creeps up and catches people by surprise.
I often think that people visiting the U.S. must think we are a strange group of people as they shop in our stores in September and October and see ghosts and goblins, and then in November and December, angels and baby Jesus in the same seasonal aisles.
Do retailers rush the season? That question has always been up for debate. I believe retailers are gamblers. Many live by the motto of, "I can always pull the year out at the holidays!" Thats like saying, "I probably can lose weight if I tape my mouth shut," but it isnt very healthy. Neither is waiting till the last quarter of the year hoping that the holiday season will make your registers ring off the wall.
Let me share my six critical questions business owners should be asking themselves about their business, any time of the year!
When I taught college level retail marketing classes, I always required my students to memorize the "Six Rights of Merchandising." I dont remember the reference, but I only know I wish I came up with it. Instead, I share it with you and hope you will learn it as well:
1. The Right Merchandise: Having the "right" merchandise is the foundation of business success. Having the "right" merchandise means that you know your customers wants and needs and you buy accordingly. I have consulted with many clients over the years that have a hard time understanding that buying what they like is not necessarily what the customer likes.
Can you describe your average customer in depth? Do you know specifically what they buy, why they buy it, what they like about it, how often they shop, what they would like more of and if you could find it, what one thing would they wish you would carry?
I believe that businesses can exceed sales plans if they would just encourage employees to increase UPTs, or Units Per Transaction. In order to do that, a business must have merchandise that complements each other. Rarely should a customer ever leave your business after purchasing only one item. If an employee is sharp, they can anticipate another item that the customer could use, if they just think about it.
I know these sounds elementary but how many times have you come to a check out and the employee says,""Did you find everything OK?" I really shocked my local grocery store person and responded, "Why, did you lose something?" If the employee is sharp, they can glance at what the customer is purchasing and make a quick recommendation of something the customer might have missed...
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