Let's say you have a bunch of retail centers and all those retail centers carry just about the same stuff. They are all located in prime sites where your target market has easy access to what you're selling. Yet...one stands out as a shining star with record sales while the others simply do...OK. What is the difference?
Three things: Staff, Selection and Merchandising.
Yesterday I saw this first hand. I was making the circuit of Hy-Vee Garden Centers. (Hy-Vee is a regional supermarket group with over 220 stores in the Midwest.) Over the past several years supermarkets have gotten into the lawn and garden business. Makes sense...people are already walking through the parking lot. Why not give them the opportunity to buy something else?
My purpose was to see if these stores were carrying a particular product produced by one of my clients, how it was being displayed and if staff knew anything about it. While it is a very small sampling one store stood out above all the others we visited.
The Urbandale Hy-Vee Garden Center...rocks. And, they rock for three reasons:
Staff - They know the products and they sell by building relationships. I visited with "Al" whom I am guessing has been retired from "his other job" for some time. Not only did Al know about the products I was searching for but within minutes he was attempting to sell me. And...it was all sincere. I counted at least eight employees who were engaged with customers. Nobody went without a, "Hi, great day! Did you see _______?" No closed end questions like, "Did you find everything you needed?" They were busy...selling.
Selection - Of all the garden centers we visited this one had the most...stuff. There was something for nearly every budget. I'd suspect the inventory was double that of the other centers we walked.
Merchandising - I think, far too often, retail forgets about this aspect of the sale. Not only was the selection huge; everything was set up with a plan. From outdoor seating to fertilizer the displays were attractive, informational and directed. There was a mix of products, colors and shelf space. There are major investments in water gardens (in a parking lot!) signs are tasteful and music (soft jazz) is playing at just the right level. Shopping became...a party.
Pretty simply stuff...but it also takes time, money and a driven commitment to do it right. These guys...do it right. Maybe because Jerry Kluver (above) runs the ship? Maybe...but they "get it" and I have a feeling now that Jerry is more involved with Hy-Vee Corporate...the rest of the Hy-Vee Garden Centers won't be far behind.
So, what about your retail center? Could it use a bit more attention to three simple rules?