Retailers Should Not Worry, Be Happy

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Bright and early this morning, Allen Questrom, Director of Wal Mart Stores, Inc. and speaker at Recasting Retailing Super Session, said, “Retailers are optimistic. If not, we’d be committing suicide.”

In the wild world of wondrous retail, optimism is the biggest ticket to staying afloat in a tough sea of market and competition.  But even more substantially important to maintaining a successful retail business is the actions that are backed by that optimism. The question remains, “What actions do you take as a retailer?”

Although it sounds pretty ridiculous to reduce inventory if businesses are so sure of an increase in demand, it is done with the greatest intentions of all.  “I’ve never seen anyone go out of business because they didn’t have enough of something. However, I have seen someone go out of business for having too much,” said Questrom.

It’s all in the product management. The chain of operations, after optimism is linked in to your retail, begins when inventory is reduced. More money is saved and can be used to differentiate products or to hire more employees. So the old moniker less is more, holds truth for the present and future of retailing as less inventory results in more profit and more jobs.

Job growth of course was a core subject during the Super Session. How can you create job growth? Well, for starters, be happy! That seems to have done the trick for all three of the speakers at the session, who have the experience in long lists of retail corporations.

But much more can be done. For example, decreasing multiple expenses in a number of ways, as Tracy Mullin, President and C.E.O. of NRF said to open the session. If retailers can learn to allocate their money properly, more money can be spent of providing income to employees, which in turn provides job growth.

“The economy today is measurably better than it was a year ago and will be measurably better a year from now,” said Mark Zandi, Chief Economist of Moody’s Economy.com, another speaker this morning.

With that being said, of course retailers have “happy” written all over their foreheads. Now that does not in any way mean that change will come as fast as a headache. As usual, things will take time. The entire world is recovering from one of the greatest recessions anyone has witnessed since the Great Depression and it is a no-brainer that recovery will take a few good years. But as businesses are already seeing changes in profit since last year, the outlook of retail in general is landing upon the stars that they are shooting for now.

Howard Levine, Chairman and C.E.O. of Family Dollar Stores, referenced that Family Dollar’s business is doing well compared to this time last year. They kept in mind the focus of customers during this past holiday season, and that focus, they noticed, was value. You have to focus and know your customer no matter what the times are like. When it came down to Family Dollar, Levine said that much time was spent on researching and gaining knowledge on the demographical customers that shop at the stores. He noted that a store must be adaptable and relevant to the customers’ needs, which are currently prevailing over their wants.

In conclusion, take account of what procedures work for your business and which ones do not. Use the proper techniques to fuel the changes that will present more opportunities to increase profitability and a loyal customer base. But most of all never let the failures get you down, be optimistic and see the sunshine over the cloudy days. Yes, we went through our rainy days of recession, but it is time to come out of the dark and adapt to the new retailing world, and if that means that a little extra work must be done by retailers, such as deeper research into demographics, then so it shall be.

And if a business does not see the immediate results it may have been waiting for, have no fear because retail is on the right track with new technology and innovations coming into light.

Jena Glick is a freshman at LIM College, one of the Foundation’s college partners.

Posted in: Colleges & Universities | Educators | NRF Foundation News | Retail News | Retailers | Students and tagged , ,
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