Retail has changed, so let’s get some of the clichés out of the way. It’s the internet, it’s the recession, it’s the ‘discounters’, it’s the Olympics, it’s the weather.
The truth is it’s all of these things and more; the harsh reality is that one of these major factors, the current economic climate, is going to continue to influence consumers for some time yet. So for retail there will be survivors and regrettably, there will be more casualties. So what should you do as a retailer?
The first step is to identify if your business is an endangered species. If it is; what is your biggest threat? What can you do? What are you going to do?
A couple of facts that you may find of interest: It was recognised in America that when a certain chain music store decided to open a branch in a town, it heralded the death knell for the town’s existing music stores.
This did happen to some stores, but not to all. Some smart-thinking independent retailers actually closed their existing shops, but only in order to relocate closer to the new competitor. This gave them access to the footfall from the major store, and with carefully chosen stock items and good customer service, they still have strong businesses.
The internet is not going away, it is the greatest advertising tool for your store and when used with some imagination and cunning, does not necessarily have to cost a fortune to take advantage of. Use the Force. If your business is not targeting national sales, you can still capitalise on social networking – it’s a free way to keep contact with your local customers. You don’t just have to be the cheapest seller to use the internet to your advantage.
My points here are that there are ways of turning disadvantage to advantage. There are options and opportunities for all stores, no matter how big or small. We have been a distributor, although we still prefer the term wholesaler, for close to 20 years and yes, the industry and consequently our business has changed hugely in the last four years.
Every store that we supply is uniquely different from its competitors so apart from continuing our aim to carry good levels of stock and ship them quickly, we also try to address that retailer’s individual need.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ foolproof plan for a music shop – but sometimes even a small change can make the difference between success and failure. One certainty is that the stores that survive for the next couple of tough years will come out of the recession in a very strong position indeed.
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