In December 2008, we received a report at the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba that summarized the results of a survey conducted by the Retail Council of Canada called “Cool November, Cold December: Retailers Anticipate Hard Winter”. If you recall, that was the year the economy took a turn for the worse so the survey showed very mixed results in November followed by a sharp sales decline in the first days of December.
Two years later, the economy is slowly rebounding. Time has shown that Manitoba was among the provinces least affected by the global downturn, due in part to the mixed economy and the stable employment rate.
While the outlook for Manitoba is positive, the Retail Council of Canada survey provided some solid tips that are useful to keep in mind at all times. Given the busy nature of the holiday season for retailers, we have summarized the list for you?
10 Points to Consider...
1. Continue to be active in your business. Ensure you are relevant by being connected to and strengthening relationships with customers, suppliers, lenders, colleagues and staff.
2. Review pricing strategies product by product to ensure you are maximizing profitability while maintaining competitiveness.
3. Look for ways to become more efficient while maintaining your position in the marketplace and supporting your brand promise. For example, when sourcing inventory, look for efficiencies but be sure you don’t sacrifice quality.
4. Look for ways to establish your business as a value provider. When consumers are making buying decisions, they are not necessarily looking for the lowest price but value for money spent.
5. Be strategic with markdowns. Balance the need to turn your inventory with an awareness of your operating expenses and the effect of every percentage decrease in gross profit.
6. Research. Research. Research. Be sure you know as much as you can about your competitors, suppliers, manufacturers, and customers.
7. Look for ways to diversify your dependence on existing suppliers and manufacturers.
8. Re-examine your inventory buying and ensure you are using a strategic approach for all new inventory purchases.
9. “Re-merchandise” to make existing inventory look new.
10. Talk to your customers. Strengthen relationships with existing customers, turn your loyal customers into advocates and look for opportunities to find new customers.