Merchant Tip – Set yourself up for success!

One of my favourite mantra’s I expound to students at the University of Toronto is set yourself up for success.  But let me be clear from the onset: it’s not meant as a selfish act (ie looking after only number 1).  No, rather it is about thinking before jumping. 

Setting yourself up for success means enjoy the journey, not just the cheddar at the end of the frantic rat-race!  Specifically, for a Merchant, it is about developing programs, products, ads/promotions etc that have long-term sustainability and decrease the amount of stress in our lives. 

Proactivity: Many times in our careers we are conditioned to respond in a particular way to a particular stimulus (ie sometimes we react immediately when we have poor sales, low basket sales, beaten on a front page ad, etc).  Stephen Covey, renowned author of self-help books, defines ‘proactivity’ as:  having the awareness that between stimulus and response is our greatest power –  the freedom to choose!  There is a time lag so use imagination, self-awareness, introspection before you respond!  

Let’s take a practical example.  The all-to-familiar scenario: Sales are down.  Your boss is on you…his/her boss is on them.  Pressure is mounting, so, you are anxious to react.  Perhaps list new products and get immediate sales?!

 Sound familiar? 

But before you launch your program/products in every store – stop and think – think about the demographics, the scope of your product and of course, how can you set yourself up (and the products) for success. 

In my experience, sometimes it is prudent to just launch the program in a small area or a few stores and monitor.   Small launches allow Merchants the pleasure of the following:

–          Tweak your listings ie delist or list more, maybe different pack size?

–          Do the stores have the correct demographics?  Maybe target a specific area?

–          Get Operational or customer feedback

–          Adjust retails – not competitive?

–          Adjust Promotions – maybe invest in the program to see if it is successful to gain customer trail.  Incent them to buy it and try it!

You don’t have to make a killing on the first launch nor do you have to do a national launch every time.  Devoting merchandising shelf space is critical to your business…so, remember the following:

When it is a few stores, few people are watching.  When it is all stores, all eyes are watching.

So set yourself up for success.  Between stimulus and response, you have the time to think and choose before reacting.

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