Prime Advantage Advisory

Prime Advantage Advisory

Think Big, Act small.

by | 24 Oct 2017

‘Think Big …. Act Small’

I recently attended the British Independent Retailers’ Association conference where two presentations stood out… first, the Mackay family (of Mackays in Cambridge) shared their retail business’ incredible heritage which has existed since 1912! and most importantly talked about their endless innovation (they’re doing drive-in movies in their carpark this summer!) and their speed in making decisions (they once talked on a Saturday about selling Christmas trees … and had them in stock the following Monday!)… both of these traits have translated into success and ensuring their brand is still as relevant today as it was 105 years ago! The second delivered by Jonathan Reynolds (author of ‘Navigating the new Retail Landscape’) who spoke about the unique opportunities current trends afforded to the independent retailer…. the ability to know their customer, adapt and make decisions quickly. Customers today expect to be at the centre of the retailer’s world and although we will all say that this has always been the case … it hasn’t! 15-20 years ago mass consumption and in most cases a single sales channel allowed retailers to focus on a single supply chain and operational execution … access to the customer was in reality on the retailers’ terms.  In 2017 customers are better researched and informed, literally holding the whole world ‘in their hands’… they can purchase where and when they want, and can have whatever their hearts desire … the old adage of right product, right place, right time has been turned on its head … right product ….any place…anytime! We often hear that ‘customers have become more demanding’… I don’t think this is true… I think retailers believe this because they can no longer pre-determine how and when the customer buys.  To successfully navigate the new landscape retailers need to ‘THINK BIG and act small’ Putting the customer at the epicentre of everything we do is the first step to this, closely followed by the sales teams who engage with them (see my previous articles ‘everyone wants a magical solution’ and ‘I keep wishing’)… I was recently inspired by John Timpson talking on Desert Island Discs … he was clear that success comes when local store teams are empowered to do the right thing for the customer … he was also very clear that his Exec Team exist to support and not direct the retail stores…. this doesn’t mean allowing anarchy … brand attributes, sales processes, and operational standards should all be maintained as they are the foundation for success…. but enabling local teams to feel ‘own business’ responsibility creates an environment where sales improve, costs and losses are controlled and above all customer engagement becomes extraordinary!  THINKING BIG and acting small requires a change to strategy and priorities …

  • Obsess about making things easy… customers have sensory overload from all the ways they can shop… research and map every aspect of their journey on and offline… identify ‘pinch points’ and then create a strategy that challenges the entire business to remove friction and create a seamless end to end customer journey.
  • Personalise… make the customer feel like an important individual .. what elements of their purchase can you tailor make into their personal, bespoke experience … there is lots to do, we can develop websites, social media and loyalty schemes …. and in-store ‘act small’ … get teams to start to recognise regulars, what they purchase… colours, styles …. make the experience engaging… build on what’s being bought and why …. the local shopkeeper used to remember customer names, what they liked and events that were impacting their purchases … they made shopping a personal experience … acting small!
  • Create Excellence…review every operational task … from payment to deliveries… how can these be improved upon to create amazing experiences.
  • Become adaptable… plan ‘like Oceans 11’ but able to respond to changing circumstance and competition…. act fast (act small) … make decisions quickly so that the customer experience never falters.

Encourage the sales teams to …

  • Always sell … make them ambassadors … so in love with their brand that they can’t stop telling everyone they meet about the fantastic store, website , catalogue they have…. the unbelievable merchandise and brilliant experience potential customers will receive when they visit.
  • Own the neighbourhood… in touch with where their customers live and work… their needs, what is happening …. and respond to all of it …. at Sprint Connect one of our managers in Miami was so in touch with his community that he made one of our most challenging stores the best in the business … he would tell me all of the time ‘ I treat this like my business’ ….and you did Albert !
  • Influence Up… how many layers are there between the sales teams and the decision makers … in Mackays the family work on the shop floor talking to colleagues and customers all of the time …. how can we all remove the barriers and get to the information that matters! (act small)

This is THINKING BIG and acting small in action …. people deal with people…. personal recommendations or comments are transformational … word of mouth can go global in minutes…. our customers have literally got ‘the whole world in their hands’ …. but then so do we!