Foreword Online

Ideas, information and industry news for collegiate retailers

How to Avoid Common Retail Pitfalls

Posted by Kate Seat on 5/15/14 11:00 PM
Topics: college retail, merchandising

Successful retail requires balancing what you have to offer with what your customers want, and can sometimes feel like a never-ending process. However, focusing your strategy around some essential areas will help you avoid some very common mistakes that other retailers may be making.

Kristen Gramigna shares some insights to help you remain smart in a world of dumb retail mistakes on Read through the highlights of what to avoid in the excerpt below and then check out the full article.

The retail space has never been more competitive than it is today. It's no longer enough to factor in rival vendors down the street. With the rise of online shopping and mobile connectivity, you're now competing with merchants all over the globe.

There are no "magic bullets" that will instantly transform your retail store into a customer magnet. But there are steps you can take to avoid sabotaging long-term profitability and growth.

Not A/B Testing Everything

Regardless of location, inventory and market segment, there exists an optimal in-store arrangement of all the products you sell. Your job is to find that ideal balance through perpetual A/B testing of pricing, displays and layout.

A/B testing is a process. With seasonal fluctuations and changing consumer tastes, your job is never really done.

Ignoring the Sunk Cost Fallacy

You've ordered a new shipment of inventory, only to discover that none of your customers seem to want it. Because you've already spent the money, you decide to keep these poorly converting products on the shelf.

This is a classic case of the sunk cost fallacy.

Remember that in-store real estate is limited. And there's an opportunity cost associated with every product on the shelf. When you maintain underperforming inventory, you're literally shrinking the physical size (and profitability) of your store.

Instead, focus on high converting items — especially those with upsell or cross-promotional potential.

Not Having an Online Presence

It's only natural to be fearful of online retailers. With unlimited geographic reach and lower inventory costs, e-commerce stores represent a powerful threat to brick-and-mortar establishments.

But the Internet itself is not your competitor — it is a powerful marketing tool that you should leverage for long-term growth. Having a website and social media presence can help you:

  • Engage with your customers
  • Better understand how your customers perceive your brand

A well-structured site also presents many more opportunities for A/B testing.

Not Listing Prices

If you don't clearly list prices for every item in your store, you're leaving money on the table. Sure, customers can always ask for assistance. Some retailers even place price scanners strategically throughout the store.

But what you're really doing is creating unnecessary resistance. If a customer must invest 15 extra seconds to locate a price scanner or clerk, you've made that sale 15 seconds harder than it needs to be.


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