Saturday, May 31, 2008

Keeping Promises

In today's retail environment, your success is much more about the relationship you have with your customer--fulfilling your brand promise--than the items you sell. Let's face it, they can get many of the things you sell from various other sources.

The first step to establishing an open and honest relationship with your customer is to clearly communicate your value proposition, brand promise, or MISSION to them.

"Don't have a mission statement," you say? Get one! Go to the Business section of your Trade Department or textbook area RIGHT NOW and find a book that can help you learn about vision and missions for organizations and get busy drafting one for you store!

When you're finished, follow the lead of your colleagues at the New Mexico State University Bookstore (among others) and post your mission statement in a prominent place for all to see. At the NMSU store, they put it right at the entrance. You can see the sign on the pillar just below and to the right of the store's main sign in the image below.

It’s a simple thing that goes a long way in today’s ultra-competitive retail fight for customers and their loyalty.

Tony Ellis, CAE

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Flops Remain Hot!

Here's a quick hot product tip for you: Havaianas!

David Crass, associate director at The University of Arizona BookStores and chair of the NACS Retail Edge committee, says these things are a "huge success."

Check 'em out at

He's on his THIRD order in only TWO months!

--The Retail Muse

Monday, May 05, 2008

I Found a Latte to Talk About

I love TJ Maxx. Even more...I love TJ Maxx/Homegoods and a venti latte! Mmmmmmm....

But I digress.

I was indulging myself the other day--latte in hand--strolling through my local TJ Maxx and More (some of you may have a full-blown Home Goods or a Marshall's or, for our friends to the north, a Winners, and the list goes on).

Anyway. TJ Maxx and More has more of the home decor stuff. That's what I like. Lamps. "Set-abouts." "Dust collectors." Great fun to see what you can find in these stores that, quite frankly, are all about "the hunt".

Well, I was walking along, rounded a corner, and saw something that completely took me aback. A full-sized, black wire body frame on a stand...of the classic type. Check out the pic. It's the only way I could do it justice. As a matter of fact, I'm kind of shocked that store management didn't come and ask me what I was snapping all the pictures of. It took quite a few to get one that I liked.

The first thing that came to my mind was, "Every store needs one of these. This is awesome! Think of what you could do with this to merchandise with?!" As a matter of fact, I'm actually a day late and a loonie short. One of YOUR Canadian colleagues already did this one up with a white wire frame. Check out some of the cool things done by Colleen Olexiuk and her colleagues at the University of Alberta Bookstore. Colleen is a member of the NACS Retail Edge Committee, so she's supposed to be "edgy" and I'm allowed to swipe and share her ideas! :-)

I know, you're saying, "We don't have the $100+ to throw down for that awesome wire form" or "We don't have space or enough product to fill up something like that." Well, guess what I saw next? Yep, mini-me's.

These little beauties would be perfect for bracelets, watches, necklaces, rings, etc. That IS what they're made for, after all.

So what does all this mean? Why am I taking time away from my precious collection of DVR'd TV to blog about this? You know me...there's a list coming at ya!

1. Get out of your store! It's a classic, and more true that ever. You never know when or where you will find that next inspiration or awesome new prop for your store. So get out and about and see what comes your way.

2. Surprise and delight your customers--even in small ways. It doesn't take much, sometimes, to create an engaging moment for your customer. I know I was high on my latte, but if it stopped me in my tracks, it might just do the same for your folks.

3. Try something different. Don't we all just beg for stores, even our favorites, to give us a little something different now and then? You may not be able to do it all the time. You may not be able to commit a lot of space. But try some new tricks. Allow yourself to play--as see if your customers don't respond in kind.

That's it for this time. Thanks a latte for reading.

Tony Ellis, CAE