Many retailers (especially in Ontario) are left scratching their heads and dealing with more restrictions relating to COVID-19 with the surge in cases and new variants. Operating at 50% capacity, at first, doesn’t seem like a huge adjustment but it is. These guidelines impose the feeling of “don’t go out unless you have to”, and of course naturally have everyone re setting to prioritize safety. It also causes individuals to rethink what are “needs and essentials” versus “wants and nice to haves."
The start of a new year allows business owners to set goals, look at the financials, and to prioritize various areas of their store or business in general. Starting off 2022, by being hard hit once again, budgets are most likely top of mind. During the most recent restrictions it can also be viewed as a bit of a "catch up time". Typically, the new year sees slower sales depending on a stores merchandising mix anyway, and now employee absence may also cause staffing issues due to isolation periods and symptoms.
When asked which areas that retailers could focus on if they could only choose one or two, here is what The Retail Duo had to say;
PAINT IT Aesthetically if the interior of the store is feeling a bit dated or dull now is the time to take advantage of less foot traffic and break out the drop cloths and paint brushes. Even if the entire store cannot be painted perhaps select a few places for visual breaks and add interest with some walls of colour. Plus, we could all use a pop of colour and some cheer.
TIP: Benjamin Moore Fresh Peach 060
POS Also, this is a great time to get a handle on that inventory. Rethink the number of sku's and volume of stock. What is truly selling? How is the ordering being done and how is the inventory managed? Is it time to invest in a more efficient system?
TIP: Top industry examples such as Square, Clover or Lightspeed are good places to start.
Set aside a few hours each week over the course of January and February to plan out marketing strategies. Look at the entire year and then break down each week. It’s not just about the themed events but how will you introduce new items, special buys, and the changes in consumer buying behaviours that have been driven by the pandemic.
TIP: Think about the health and wellness segment - will it continue to be top of mind?
We have said it a million times and although it feels like we are stating the obvious: clean! Dust bunnies are the worst! Tops of bust forms with dust are the worst! Light fixtures that are dusty and burnt out, also the worst! Now more than ever people want and expect CLEAN. Lemon fresh clean. Move the fixtures kind of clean.
TIP: Don’t tackle the cleaning during off hours or quickly. Customers feel happy and safe when they witness the cleaning taking place.
INVEST IN YOUR PEOPLE
Is it time to step back and spend some time training and team building? Especially after the past two years! Have you stopped to show appreciation to your team? Could everyone benefit from a day “off” but in store, while the store is closed… learning about new products and talking about the merchandise assortment, oh and having FUN?
TIP: Consider asking the professionals in for a coaching session on merchandising or sales training (…. The Retail Duo, wink, wink)
Although limitations and restrictions are frustrating, and certainly can affect a businesse's bottom line, but we all know that being safe and supporting the front-line workers is important ignorer to get our communities back functioning at 110%. In the meantime, focus on planning and keeping positive, and from us to all of you retailers - hang in there!