INFLUENCING UNCERTAINTY IN YOUR RETAIL BUSINESS

I always remember the feeling of doom on quiet days in my stores. The overreaction of my mind – “That’s it, it’s over, nobody is ever going to come into my stores again. It was nice while it lasted….”. Drop the mic.

Sometimes a whole morning would go by without a customer stepping in. It could feel like a waiting game. Waiting for customers to walk in, waiting for online orders to come through, waiting for the phone to ring.

It’s very easy to succumb to those feelings of powerlessness and self-doubt. It can feel like everyone else knows what to do and all other retailers somehow have a magic wand to attract customers continually.

The reality, of course, is quite different. All store owners have those same doubts and no matter how large the retailer, the fact is they can’t magically attract customers to their stores. They can’t force them to come in, they can only try to influence it.

In this current Covid-19 pandemic, there is a whole new level of never seen before uncertainty, affecting both businesses and individuals. As a retail owner, you have likely had a forced closure of your brick & mortar store as well as a huge shift in the priorities and mindset of your customers. You might already have an online store or you might be facing the reality of having to start one, but either way, you are faced with a huge amount of unknowns.

So, is it possible to influence the situation? Clearly, we are limited as to what we can influence at this unique time but when focusing on your business, now is the time to get creative. Push away those negative thoughts as much as you can and focus on what you CAN influence.

You set the tone for your business.

Whether or not you have a team of employees looking up to you, you have the power to set the tone for your business, now more than ever. Whilst acknowledging the current climate, you can set the tone as positive, you can keep yourself and your team active and make small steps each day to move forward as a business.

If you are currently able to continue selling in your business, then do so. Be creative with your approach, try something new perhaps with the way you merchandise your products or with a marketing tool that you never had time to try before. During a time like this it’s important to stay connected to your customers, even if they currently can’t shop with you. Keep your brand alive through your own vision, ideas and thoughts and they will value that.

By focusing on the positive, you are actively influencing not only your state of mind but of those who follow you. You may not realise it but you do have some influence over your customers. You have influenced what they buy from you through your clever in-store merchandising, you might have influenced what they wear by choosing a particular collection for your store and you have created their emotional connections to your products through marketing images. These are all ways of influencing and you do have those tools, so continue to use them now. Talk to your customers. Activate ideas that you have had in the back of that notebook for months.

Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed, I like to do a deep dive into my head and write a long list. Perhaps at this time you could do the same to kickstart some creativity. Don’t think practically when writing an ideas list, just write anything that comes to mind. An online event, in-store videos, a Pinterest page, a community campaign, a new product line….write it all down.

In summary, I called this blog Influencing Uncertainty and whilst it is not a scientific approach to the subject, I do believe you can influence what happens in your business through your own mindset and actions. There is always uncertainty in business, every day retailing is full of uncertainty and you likely normally handle that well. Don’t lose ground to the uncertainty, fight back with action.

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