Business Growth Advisor James Lennon shares his top tips for retailers
I’ve been in the retail industry for over 36 years and now, more than ever, I’m excited by Sheffield’s growing retail success.
The Moor’s footfall increased by more than five per cent in the last year and, with innovative new ventures like Krynkl (the shipping container development that has just opened at Kelham Island), work beginning on the Sheffield Retail Quarter, and the brand new IKEA set to open this summer, the region’s retail prospects are looking even brighter.
Businesses in Sheffield are not only fortunate to be part of this landscape, but also to have access to the incredible support provided by Business Sheffield. The free inspiration and advice available at events such as Retail Insights 1, taking place on 21 February, are invaluable. The workshop – which is part of an extensive events calendar – looks at some of the fundamentals of this industry including its key components, basic definitions and key metrics along with what trends are currently driving its scale both globally and closer to home.
I would encourage anyone thinking of carving a niche in the retail sector to book onto the course. In the meantime, check out my top tips for those looking to set up or grow in Sheffield’s thriving retail sector. Because you might have a brilliant idea – but getting it to market can be a whole different ball game.
Identify your customer
Once you know who and where your customer is, you can explore the concepts of customer-centric thinking, customer lifecycles and consider how technology and customer loyalty fundamentally affect the retailer/customer relationship.
Key to unlocking success for any retail business is the relationship between customer, market and product. It is often the lack of detailed understanding of how these elements work together that is the root cause of retail failure and they are intrinsic to determining the correct marketing strategy at the right cost.
Do your research
Good market research is essential. Setting the right price for your product and being able to turn a profit within a reasonable timeframe can make or break a new business.
Be passionate about your product
Retailers must always be passionate about their product and be able to adapt and innovate as their customer and markets evolve. There are key differences between product invention and product innovation, and where R&D sits in this mix. It’s also important to consider ethical sourcing and product traceability, which are becoming of ever-greater importance in the relationship between retailer and customer.
Spread the word
After clearly defining your USP, you can start thinking about marketing to your target audience and creating an edge that will help you outsell the competition. The stronger your message, the more likely customers will be to buy – and buy into – your product.
Manage the media
Media management is something all retailers should understand and utilise to their advantage. Consider how to create and exploit PR opportunities, think about ‘storyboards’ and brand image, and never forget the all-important retail event calendar that every retailer should know inside out.
These are just some of the points I’ll be covering at the Retail Insights 1 workshop at Business Sheffield headquarters (11 Broad Street West, Sheffield, S1 2BQ) on 21 February. The session, which covers customers, markets, products, marketing and media, is free to attend but places must be booked in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0114 224 5000.
This is an intense course with a lot of information but the practical ‘to do’ list of take-away actions for every participant helps delegates turn the content into actions or, in retail speak, make sure that you are able to ‘walk the talk’ in your own business!