We Asked Retailers About the Habits That Led to Their Success. Here’s What They Said.

Highly successful retail businesses don’t just happen overnight, nor does it (usually) occur because of one big, bold action. Retailers achieve success by consistently doing things that positively affect their customers, employees, and business in general. In other other words, achieving retail success starts by forming the right habits.

We decided to explore this topic further by asking retail professionals one simple question: What are the things that you do regularly that have led to your (or your store’s) success?

We’ve summarized the best answers in this post. Check them and see if you and your staff can start developing new retail habits.

“Walking the store” is the #1 habit recommended by retailers

To “walk the store” is by far the most popular retail habit that we’ve seen in people’s responses.

“Walking the floor is so key,” says Jacqueline Young-Sterling, the Director of Sales and Marketing at Compliantia. You can interact with customers, correct merchandising, and take note of anything that requires cleaning or fixing (so you can schedule it for resolution).

If you’re just getting into the habit of walking around your shop, here are some tips to help you get the most out of the practice:

View things from the eyes of your customers

To get the most meaningful insights from this exercise, be sure to take off your “retailer” hat and replace it with your customer cap. Put yourself in your target customer’s shoes and view things from their perspective.

Ask yourself, if you were the customer would you buy from your store?

Don’t forget your exterior

Simon Dickson, one of Vend’s newsletter subscribers, recommends taking “five minutes to step outside and look at your store from a customer’s perspective.”

Look through your shop window and entrance path, and evaluate how things look in terms of visual merchandising and branding perspective.

Then from there, come up with ways to spruce up your store’s exterior and drive more foot traffic to your location.

Check out your competitors

Ricardo Belmar, Senior Director at InfoVista, says that in addition to walking around your own stores, make it a point to “walk competitor stores.”

Again, do this with your customers in mind. Take note of the shortcomings and successes of your competitors, and use those insights to improve.

Have a checklist

Make the task of walking around your shop more efficient by using a checklist of things to keep an eye on, so you can tick them off as you walk around. Here are some of the things you can add to your list:

  • Are products displayed correctly?
  • How are your shelves looking? Are items organized? Are there any gaps or missing products?
  • Is the store cleaned and well-maintained?
  • Are there any health or safety hazards to be wary of?

Communicate (and bond) with your team and customers

Several people also emphasized the importance of relationship-building in retail. “Building relationships has definitely had the greatest impact,” shares Sarah Ferrence, Owner & Consultant at Mod. Merchant.

“It’s so important to build relationships across all aspects of business including cross functional teams and peers, management, vendors and external partners, and most importantly with the customer! It develops partnerships and opportunities and create a pleasant working environment — which all trickle down to a happier end consumer!”

Check out the following communication habits and routines of other retailers:

Have daily huddles to review store KPIs and motivate the team

Make it a habit to have daily huddles or pep talks with your team members, so you can review your store goals and find ways to meet or beat your targets.

“Having chat-ins with each associate before each shift is essential in setting the day up for success,” says Georgia Griffin. “Check your KPIs daily and adjust where it’s needed.”

Remé Levember, does something similar. “I communicate sales figures everyday and identify categories where we need to focus a bit more to get growth percentages up!”

Recognize that customer communication is key

Your employees aren’t the only ones who need daily check-ins. Having regular chats with shoppers is just as important.

Georgia recommends that you circle the floor throughout the day to engage with your customers.

She adds, “Tell them why you love your product, and mention any promos or rewards they can earn by shopping at your store… You do the client a disservice by not mentioning any savings! Give them reasons to come back. Great product and excellent customer service is why people come back!”

Listen… as in, REALLY listen

Active listening is essential in retail, but not everyone does it. Hearing out a customer or employee is one thing; but consciously listening and internalizing what they have to say is a different story.

Be conscious, be present, and make it habit to actively listen to your staff or customers.

“In addition to all the daily things I do — walk the store, set priorities, and make plans — I find I am most successful when I remind myself to listen, says Lanita Nail. “Not just ‘hear,’ but REALLY listen to customers, employees, and partners. It’s amazing how much more I learn and grow when I do this.”

Judi Brown, the Owner of Tacoma Trophy, also emphasizes the importance of listening to shoppers, saying that they see their shoppers as their “research and development department.”

So, the next time you’re interacting with a shopper or team member, make it a point to actively and consciously listen to what they have to say. You’d be surprised at the nuggets of wisdom that you’ll get out of doing this.  

Constantly stay on top of orders and stock

Staying on top of back office and stock control is another key task that you need to do daily.

“Know your assortment,” says Christian Hogeveen. “Know your stock levels and margins, so you can determine what your focus should be. Fast-movers sell themselves; only you can shift the focus to getting rid of excess stock or concentrating on high-margin products.”

To make things easier, arm yourself with the tools and technologies that will make stock management easier.

Mary Smilack, the Operations and Hardlines Manager at Kohl’s, says that she makes it a habit to check their replenishment queau, online order statuses, and any discrepancies noted by associates. She’s able to stay efficient because everything she needs is one place.

“They’re all on one device so it is really easy to check on these,” she adds.

Make sure you have systems and processes in your business that help you manage your stock, orders, and customers with ease. If you don’t have one yet, get yourself a robust retail management system with the sales, inventory, and reporting capabilities you need.

Further Reading


Need help with aligning your stock control processes and systems? Check out Vend’s Complete Guide to Retail Inventory Management. This handy resource offers advice and action steps to help you:

  • Set up your products and inventory system correctly
  • Get the right people and processes in place so you can stay on top of stock
  • Figure out which of issues are causing shrink in your business so you can prevent them

    Learn More

Stay positive and try to have fun

Another great habit to develop when you’re in retail? Staying positive. Working a store can be tough, and it’s not always fun. Maintaining a positive attitude is good for you and everyone else.

As Eva I. Perez, a manager at Kipling USA puts it, being positive “is contagious and the people around you will follow.”

Nebiyou Belayneh a store manager at PetSmart demonstrates a great way of encouraging positive in his store. According to him, when he walks the floor at the start of the day, he makes it a point to greet and even joke a little with his team.

“If there is nice music I might dance a little,” he adds.

Strive to do something similar in your store. Maintain a happy disposition and always find opportunities for fun.

Your turn

What specific habits have led to your retail success? Let us know by tweeting at us @vendhq or drop us a line on Facebook!

 

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.

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