Four Steps to a Better 2009

To prosper during this time of unprecedented challenges, your store must provide superior shopping experiences that lead to more sales. Don’t focus only on cutting costs. Cost cutting is a prudent approach, but don’t reduce your ability to create value for your customers. Consider reallocating resources to create more customer value. View every service as a value-added marketing service.

Key point: Your business potential will decline in some areas and be available to grow in others. Distinguish between new opportunities for growing the business and existing market approaches that have too many barriers. Here are four approaches to help you maximize sales and enhance business performance.

Call in the “A” team. Reassigning store hours for sales associates is always a requirement of a responsible management team. In this economy it means more acutely scrutinizing not only hours worked but also which hours are being worked by which sales associates. Tough times require even tougher resolve. Assign your most talented salespeople to the store hours that will produce the greatest sales performance. Next year you can go back to a more employee-oriented approach to scheduling.

Implement word-of-mouth marketing. Start today to retrain all sales associates in the art of asking for referrals. Don’t assume customers will refer you to others. Instead, let them know how much you’ll appreciate them for giving you a referral. Consider providing an incentive such as a discount on a future purchase or free merchandise to express your appreciation. Remember, many people love to get appreciation and acknowledgement, so it’s worth a try.

Dump the dog pound. We all have that one showcase with unsalable merchandise, and those dogs are barking. Get rid of them! Move that merchandise into another showcase by matching like products, or find another sales channel for them. Match jewelry pieces by design, style, color, etc. You can use the “apples to apples” visual approach to display slow-moving pieces: Put a few of these items next to hot sellers with matching visual characteristics. In addition, add a couple of extra points of commission to these products to make sure they sell, and sell quickly. You cannot afford to keep unsalable merchandise in your showcases in 2009. You need the cash flow.

Get the geese when they’re flying. Expect fewer shoppers this year, and assume they’ll make careful and deliberate buying decisions. Restock your assortment with merchandise that reflects the fashion, accessories, and jewelry preferences of your core customers. Only buy merchandise that your core customers are looking for, and get rid of the rest. You’ll earn every sale this year, even more so than in previous years. Put your store in a position to maximize revenue-generating opportunities.

How can you offer a customer experience that turns shoppers into buyers and differentiates your offerings? Picking the right inventory and using the right marketing and sales approaches are critical. You will earn your money like never before. But if you take these suggestions to heart, you might be one of the stores that not only survives but also thrives.