Despite recent reports by CBS News that retailers have closed 7,000 stores in the first half of 2019 and are projected to close 12,000 stores by year-end, the death of retailing is greatly exaggerated.
There is no more powerful selling environment than the retail store. It is the only place a salesperson can interact with a customer using all 5 senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling. This can’t be done on a computer screen.
Like politics, all retailing is local. The retail store is a social venue where people meet and interact. The best retailers see themselves more as entertainers and less as distributors of products. They attract customers by making their stores an exciting and entertaining place to be.
Large chain retailers have spent years consolidating the roles of purchasing and distribution of products to individual stores. They manage the business with data. Expenses have been reduced by paying store managers less and relying more on centralized management. The problem here is the lack of personal contact with customers and understanding of what the local customer wants. Most reported store closings are from large retail chains.
Key to Small Retail Survival
Studies have revealed the keys to small retail survival and prosperity are the sale of very high-quality products, an extraordinary level of service and selling to a narrowly defined market niche. Successful small retailers know their customers very well and they know how to buy for these customers. They often stock a level of quality merchandise that exceeds that found in local chain stores and they provide personal service.