Retail success is an elusive commodity in today's business climate and, although there is no shortage of advice from various retail commentators around the globe, we may have to look no further than our own market for solutions. In fact Monday night's trader awards gave us some great guidance.
Retailing has always been a bit if a buzz. Actually that is an understatement. Retailing is currently a mind blowing challenge of huge proportions as we turn the industry upside down to cater for new consumer attitudes fuelled by new technology. There are lots of challenges. Trying to keep track of consumer preferences is a bit of a nightmare. These days consumers kick out politicians at the drop of a hat (The Melbourne Lord Mayor seems to be an exception) and they are adopting similar principles with their purchasing. Products only last until the next social media message about an alternative, a new supplier, or a new trend.
Retail commentators bang on about retailers providing new and exciting offers and entertaining customers. These are seen as key ingredients to success. If you apply the "kick out politicians" philosophy to retailing then you really need to reinvent your product offer on a regular basis or consumers will simply look for something better. And what about this "entertaining" bit? It is no accident that many of our award winners at the Inaugural Queen Victoria Market Trader Awards were entertainers. Those who have seen Yianni Yiannatzis, Kris Robinson, Robyn Faulkner, and Bruce Pham in operation will know what I mean.
Entertaining customers doesn't necessarily involve song and dance. You might entertain with your insight to customer needs, or your level of customer service, or your knowledge of your products. Each of those traders mentioned above show outstanding customer focus and product knowledge. If you can do that with a bit of flair and humour then the impact can be even greater.
And changing your product offer, keeping it fresh and exciting, doesn't necessarily involve wholesale product changes. You can refresh with simple things - new products, new merchandising, new online links, new customer services.
Let's be honest, each of our award recipients probably do another 10 or 20 retail things really well, but if we can all concentrate on those two key ingredients, refreshing our offer and entertaining customers, we can also expect to reap rewards, and not just the glass trophy kind.