The end is near, NO not that end. The end of this force-fed closure of our livelihoods. There is a light at the end of this tunnel and while she may not be there waiting with ALL her friends, we must believe they will be back. Having said that, the real question for us isn’t will they be back but rather will we be here ready to serve or will we have succumbed due to our own inability to ADAPT. Will we have become extinct or has there in fact been an artificial selection forcing evolution to occur… Evolution in this case is defined as an environment which is very different from the environment where we pre-existed. And by that definition YES, evolution has occurred (or is occurring) and we must transform in order to thrive tomorrow.
Here are my top five (5) evolutionary focusses for today’s retailer:
- Rebuild Your Team: We’ve heard this trite message “we are in this together” over and over again for the last several weeks even when we stood ALONE in the middle of our stores or in our minds we have heard “we are in this together”. Well, now is the time to get together – we cannot do this alone. Start rebuilding your team (on paper if needed) right now! The best teams in the world are made up of these simple characteristics; they are all in it to WIN; Every team needs a strong offence, their sole focus is to score goals (sales team); We need a sound defense. Our defensive players are those that create the support foundation (operations) for all of our business activities; We need a visionary goalkeeper; a position that sees the protection of cash flow as paramount while leading us creatively; We need a GREAT Coach, one that is in the game (on the floor when needed) with a mantra of Service Above Self. A coach that instills, inspires and incentivizes their team to be the best; and lastly, our team must have shared values & guiding principles. Review every member of your team and evaluate them not on their past performance but rather their core values. Do they have the ability to enable evolution in your business…
- Systems Define Outcomes: No truer works have ever been spoken! Now is the time to review every process in your business; document your [insert your company] WAY of doing business. Define & redefine the how you do what you do, NOT the how you’ve done it. Look at your business from a visionary perspective and how each of your processes enhance your customer experience. DON’T gloss over this statement, every process in your business directly or indirectly impacts or better enhances your customer experience – review, define and WRITE each one of them and add to your Playbook.
- Merchandise Intelligence: This is a key attribute that eludes far too many retail businesses. They have relied heavily on gut instinct, bias and belief to take action in inventory procurement and management. Too many of us use LAST YEAR as some kind of measuring stick. A measurement that no longer applies. Whatever you did last year has now become irrelevant and what happens next year will have no relevance to today’s upside-down retail world. You need to immediately begin working with a plan that takes action to grow, improve and protect cash flow at the categorical level; you need to plan your season-ending inventory position in every category and then take whatever ACTIONS are required to achieve that position; once you know where you’ll end you can now begin to work on your next starting point – BY CATEGORY. If you continue to measure and respond to your business at a surface or top level you will fail or begin to fail (if you haven’t already). Cash Flow in your retail business come from the movement of inventory in and OUT of your stores – plan and act accordingly.
- Omnichannel: Also a term that has been overly mis-interpreted by many the last few years but is now critical that we understand its true meaning. Omnichannel is best defined as a cross-channel strategy delivering a synonymous customer experience at every point of customer contact. In our Retail world “every channel” is defined as in-store (brick & mortar), online (website/ecommerce), socially (facebook, Instagram, etc.) and any other form of communication or contact we employ. We now must recognize our clients in whole rather than in part as we have previously done. She is no longer an “in-store” or “online” customer – she is both. Our clients in many cases have been forced to connect with us and our products using alternate methods. She learns quickly and will most definitely continue to engage & patronize our store on all levels. We must now measure, plan and respond to our business and our client with singular focus.
- Business Planning: You must realign and look at your business as a Visionary Leader. You must be a strategic thinker and always see the big picture. Prevent yourself from getting caught up in the weeds – rise above. You need to be able to choose your dot on the map and start planning your route. Allow your systems to effectively and efficiently deal with the detours that are inevitable (remember systems define outcomes). Create an evolutionary action plan in your business that achieves pre-determined milestones set out in seven, thirty, ninety day and one (1) year increments. Each achieved milestone enables you to continue moving towards your “dot”. Celebrate those milestones with your team – they deserve it as much as you do.
I know there are significant challenges in front of us right now and there will continue to be even bigger challenges. Rest assured, It won’t be the challenge that breaks us, but rather our inability to see past it. Take them off, clean them and put back on your Visionary Goggles.
You got this!
P.S. if you’re an entrepreneur like me, you probably love rollercoasters and all the feelings that release inside us as we climb the hill, turn downward, spiral, spin and flip seemingly out of control only to come to a gentle stop white-knuckled with an ear-to-ear smile and we immediately want to get back in line to ride again. Don’t give up, let’s plan the next part of the ride. Click here to talk strategy.