FREE Retail Articles: Your Resource for "Everything Retail."
I've written extensively about the fundamentals of retail management. These articles contain tips, know-how and perspective from a retail expert who has walked the store aisles, just like you.
Preparing For The Coming Recovery
Now is the time when successful retailers set themselves up for future success.
Navigating the Recession
Now is the time for every retailer to take a fresh look at their business and do the things that must be done to profitably adapt to the new reality.
SKU Rationalization - Reassessing Retail Assortments in Challenging Times
When sales decline, assortments have to be adjusted to bring inventories back into line. If inventories remain higher than sales can support, precious cash becomes tied up in inventory that turns very slowly, if at all. And in this economic environment, nobody can afford to have cash tied up in excess inventory.
Turning To Your Best Retail Customers
In this time, when it's tough to get foot traffic into your store, and tougher still to get them to open their wallets, turning to your best customers gives you the best chance to convert your inventory backlogs into precious cash. It's also the least expensive way, from both a marketing and a markdown perspective. You've spent a lot of years developing your relationships with these loyal customers. Now is the time to turn to them.
Has The Retail Sky Really Fallen?
For small, entrepreneurial retailers, this is a rich moment, full of opportunities, for fresh thinking and innovation. The sky hasn't fallen. At the moment, there may not be a lot of capital available for rapid expansion of new retail ventures, but the time is ripe for many small, entrepreneurial retailers to incubate new ideas, develop and refine new strategies, and engage and captivate new customers.
Now Is Not The Time For Independent Retailers To Go It Alone
Navigating these challenging economic times will not be easy for anybody. This will test the mettle of even the most seasoned merchant. Nobody can be sure when the turnaround is coming. Now is the time to be sure that you've got the perspective and guidance that you'll need to make the very best decisions.
The Retail Blues
Unfortunately, there's no magic bullet for turning this around. The customer right now is very frightened. It's going to take time for them to get their balance sheets in order, feel secure in their jobs, and regain their confidence. It's a mighty storm that's brewing, and for many small retailers the best they can do may be to ride it out with as little damage as possible.
Anticipating A Very Difficult Holiday Selling Season
The signs are all there that this could be one of the most difficult retail environments in recent memory for small and independent retailers.
Surviving A Soft Retail Market
Managing risk prudently, with a focus on maintaining margins and protecting cash flow, will enable retailers to come through this period well positioned to increase their business significantly once things improve.
An Unsettling Holiday Selling Season For Independent Retailers
The landscape is changing rapidly, driven by profitability pressures on the major corporate retailers, on the one hand, and the decentralizing effects of the internet on the other.
Fresh Thinking For Uncertain Retail Times
Finding the right balance between achieving the necessary short-term results and maintaining long-term integrity.
Growing Retail Sales
The very best specialty retailing has always been built around the customer's lifestyle, aspirations and passions.
Lifestyle Retailing for Independent Retailers
A retail strategy built and marketed passionately around a personally held, clearly defined lifestyle or interest is the path to building a powerful retail presence.
The Long Tail and Independent Retailing
Even in a niche market, a well-planned expansion of consumer choices can reveal demand that was otherwise hidden -- and drive sales.
Creating Memorable Customer Experiences
Create A Memorable Customer Experience
Engaging your customers can make your store more than just a place to buy things.
Building Retail Brand Equity
Whether it's quality, selection, product knowledge, or customer service, small retailers can leverage a stronger brand identity to take on big-box competitors.
Great Retail Customer Service Starts With Great Employee Relations
Small retailers have an edge over larger competitors that treat employees like any other expense line to be reduced and controlled.
The Retail Consolidation Opportunity
There are many loyal department store customers who feel a little out of sorts right now.
How's Your Customer Service?
The quality of your customer service is a critical point of differentiation and strategic advantage between you and your larger competitors.
Building Your Retail Store's Brand Equity
Only a single minded clarity of purpose will build a memorable identity for your store, and brand equity that will earn long-term customer loyalty.
Independent Retail and Selling Cachet
A customer will go into any store once, if only out of curiosity, but it’s the power of the experience, and the emotional connection they make, which will keep them coming back over and over again.
Thinking Through Retail Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is built in your store, one customer at a time, one exceptional experience after another.
Inventory Management and Cash Flow for e-Commerce Retailers
On October 8, 2007, Ted Hurlbut appeared on Product Sourcing Radio to discuss ways e-Commerce Retailers can improve cash flow. Here's an edited transcript of Ted's appearance.
Taking a Small Retailer On-Line
No small retailer can afford to continue to overlook this potential source of additional revenue.
The Small Retailer and The Internet
If you are a small specialty retailer and haven't thought about creating an e-commerce presence on the Internet, think again. You are leaving sales on the table, and high margin sales at that.
Managing Retail Cash Flow
Cash Flow, The Lifeblood of Every Independent Retailer
The key is budgeting and benchmarking, so that there is a dynamic plan that assures the business is able to provide for its cash needs.
Managing for Retail Cash Flow
Small retailers who manage for cash flow succeed by pulling together the retail fundamentals.
Talking Retail Cash Flow Blues
Cash flow is the most serious issue small retailers struggle with.
The Dangers of Asset Based Loans For Small and Independent Retailers
If you find yourself considering an asset based loan to finance your seasonal cash needs it should be a wake-up call that you have serious work to do.
Plan Your Retail Cash Flow!
In the end it's about cash flow. With positive cash flow, there is the promise of tomorrow and beyond. Without positive cash flow, there's only an abyss. In this moment, cash flow planning is more important than ever.
Delivering Consistent Cash Flow
For independent retailers, financial health requires greater financial skill, attention to detail and discipline.
Managing For Bottom Line Cash Flow
In the world we now live in, financial health requires a commitment to proven retail business fundamentals, a commitment to operational discipline, and a heightened attention to detail.
Planning Retail Sales
The Retail Tug of War
It's the tug of war between aggressive merchants and prudent managers.
The Beginning of Superior Inventory Management - Accurate Demand Planning and Forecasting
Developing accurate forecasts, continually updating them, and measuring their accuracy against actual sales offers independent retailers the greatest opportunities today to maximize their return on inventory investment.
Planning: The Root Cause of Many Small Retail Inventory Problems
Without careful planning, inventory can easily get out of whack, resulting in heavy markdowns due to overstocks and ultimately, serious cash flow problems.
The Markdown Blues
The root cause of excessive markdowns can almost always be traced back to the lack of adequate pre-season planning, and in-season adjustments to those plans.
Retail Seasonal Planning
The Big Finish to the Holiday Selling Season
Now is the time to proactively take the steps to assure that you have a banner finish to the holiday selling season.
Maximizing Retail Profits During The Holiday Season
The time to plan for a great finish to the season is now.
End-of-Season Retail Sales Planning
Even in the rush and crush of the holiday selling season, it's essential to do the end-of-season planning necessary not just to maximize sales but also to protect margins and cash flow.
Retail Inventory Management
Turning Excess Retail Inventory Into Cash
How to turn excess retail inventory into cash.
The Full Cost of Inventory: Exploring Inventory Carrying Costs
When you reduce inventory, not only are you freeing up capital, but you are also creating opportunities to reduce expenses, improve profitability, and increase cash flow.
Managing Retail Inventory and Maximizing Return on Inventory Investment
Don't fall in love with your inventory, it's not likely to love you back. It's either going to be sold and converted to cash, or it's sitting there tying up cash, costing you more cash each and every additional day it's not sold.
The True Cost of Retail Inventory
When not managed carefully, inventory costs can be the difference between being profitable or losing your shirt.
Putting A Retail Open-To-Buy To Work
With a retail Open-to-Buy, you'll gain better insight -- and better revenues -- into how much inventory you need to acquire and sell each month.
Cycle Count, Cycle Count, Cycle Count
Once you’re in the habit of continuously cycle counting, you’ll probably never have to do a full physical inventory again.
The Coin of the Realm
Why inventory management is of critical importance to small retailers.
So What Exactly Is A Retail Open-To-Buy?
It’s a tool that in the hands of a fully committed small retailer can profoundly improve financial performance.
A Retail Inventory Management Key - Think of Inventory in Terms of Time
Small retailers who think of their inventory in terms of weeks of supply almost always experience healthier cash flows.
The Dollars and Cents of Inventory Turn
Inventory turn can be a powerful metric for freeing up vital dollars and cents for more productive purposes.
Retail Inventory Turn and GMROI - Measuring Inventory Productivity
Sales, profitability, and cash flow are directly linked to a small retailer's ability to manage inventory productively.
ying up cash, costing you more cash each and every additional day it's not sold.
The Very Best Consignment Shops and Classic Retail Fundamentals
Spending some time shopping in the very best of these stores highlights and reinforces several classic retail fundamentals
Avoiding Heavy Retail Markdowns
As the new season begins, small retailers need to plan sales conservatively and maintain lean inventories to keep from slashing prices down the road.
Chasing The Last Sale
The objective for any small retailer is to maximize profitability and cash flow. Carrying too much inventory can decimate both.
Managing Pre-Season Retail Commit Percentages
Managing your pre-season commit percentages is one of the keys to having a profitable season.
Merchandising Strategy For Independent Retailers
How do independent retailers compete with big-box stores? By selling quality products with great customer service, obtaining higher initial markups, and avoiding corrosive sales down the road.
Dealing With Retail Assortment Creep
In selecting new items it is critical that you are actually growing sales, and not just your inventory.
Working In Your Business, Working On Your Business
Too much time working in your business, and not enough time working on your business, is an incredible impediment to growth and profitability
Starting Up A Retail Business
If you have a passion, then plan carefully and execute your plan smartly, there’s no better time to get into the retail business.
Baseball Statistics and Retail Numbers
What small and independent retailers can learn from baseball statistics.
Competitive Shopping: Studying Your Competitors
Looking for new ideas to keep your store fresh and dynamic? Time to go shopping.
Greatness Is A Moving Target
As times change, small retailers must continually reassess what they're doing in order to thrive.
Marshall Field, R.I.P.
Smaller retailers should never try to compete on price alone. By focusing on customer service and quality, they can avoid the fate of big department stores that are losing the ability to offer a compelling customer experience.
Niche Retailing and The One Thing
What do you do better than anybody else? Identify your "one thing" and everything else will fall into place.
Is There A Future For Small Retailing
A few thoughts on what it will take to succeed.
Retail Gross Margin - The Overlooked Metric
The small retailers who actively manage their gross margins will quickly discover that profitability and cash flow will consistently beat their projections.
The Markdown Blues, Revisited
Thoughts on what smaller retailers can learn from watching their larger competitors wrestle in the mud.
Retail Demand Forecasting and Inventory Management Applications: A Tool, Not a 'Solution'
For all of the capabilities that have been built into these applications, it still requires a merchant's touch to take the information, interpret it, and utilize it to generate sales and gross profit increases.
Vendor Management for Small Retailers
By managing your vendors, rather than the other way around, you save time and energy for other things -- like growing your business.
For Equity Investors and Asset-Based Lenders
The Slippery Slope, Part One
The Bump in the Road, and Declining Collateral Values
The Slippery Slope, Part Two
The Case for Early Intervention
The Slippery Slope, Part Three
A Proactive Approach to Protecting Collateral Values