The 10 Commandments of a Successful Retail Store
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The 10 Commandments of a Successful Retail Store

The 10 Commandments of a Successful Retail Store

It’s easy for many retailers to get distracted with all the changes going on in technology, social media, and shopper behavior. That can lead to going down a rabbit hole trying to do everything instead of the right thing.

The following are best practice guideposts to help you always focus on what is most important – and that is to get enough merchandise out the door at a profit to live the life you want to lead. So here are my 10 commandments of a successful retail store.

  1. Believe every shopper wants to buy from you today. There was an old adage that a shopper in a mall would go into only three stores. Nowadays, there are no leisurely trips to the mall. Those who enter a store have a mission to want to discover something new, to compare and contrast something they saw online and yes, to buy something new. Don’t believe anyone is just looking.
  1. Greet every shopper. We want to believe everyone is in your store to buy something, but they probably aren’t going to tell you at the front door if you ask, What can I help you with today? Why? Because you are aggressively trying to pin down why the customer is there. Maybe they don’t want to tell you. Maybe they don’t know. Maybe they were just overcome by your great window display. Instead, you need to give your customers space to look around, to adjust, and to take in your various areas of display.
  1. Never ignore a shopper. While some feel it is better to leave shoppers alone on the floor, it isn’t. While shoppers don’t want to be pestered, they also want to know someone is there for them. Having a selling system can give you a structure for how to engage the shopper in a new way.
  1. Never make a shopper wait for you. Holding up a finger while you’re on the phone, waiting on someone without looking up, and being oblivious to the shoppers in the store are invitations for them to scan and order from someone else.
  1. Present the best option, not the cheapest option first. Employees are increasingly selling what is on sale or cheap rather than the best or more expensive. To them, they don’t see the need for many features. The real work is to convince your Millennial employees that your $200 widget will be purchased by a Baby Boomer customer even though it could be found online for $50 less. That’s why you have to train over and over not just on product knowledge, but on the ability to compare and contrast so the better merchandise sells.
  1. Customers want a complete solution, not just one item. What's missing from most shopping experiences is the appreciation that your shoppers could have gone anywhere else but chose to walk into your brick-and-mortar store. You honor each customer when you build rapport before trying to just sell them something. That way they get a complete solution with no one asking the lame, Anything else?
  1. Your job is to get the sale. This has to be top of mind for you and your crew that letting someone out of the store without them buying means you failed – not they were just looking.
  1. Management’s job is to train, motivate, and hold employees accountable. With tight scheduling at the toniest retailers and the mom and pops, it is tempting to have managers wait on shoppers on the sales floor. This is a mistake. The best use of their knowledge is to oversee employee behaviors and to offer daily training so your associates can make your shoppers’ day.
  1. An employee’s worth is determined by their average number of items sold per customer. This KPI is often overlooked but shows your sales peoples’ ability to add-on to a sale. While it is hard to get to a consistent 2 items per sale in a month, if you settle for 1 or 1.2 you’re settling for crumbs when you probably could have the whole banquet. Train adding-on, and if an employee can’t or won’t do it, find someone who can.
  1. Listen. Nothing works in your store if your associates can’t listen to your shoppers’ problems and restate them showing that they understand. And managers can’t lead unless they can listen to associates’ real concerns and act on them.

4 precepts to guide your training

  1. Help everyone with an open heart. That means the party is in the aisles, not behind the counter.
  1. Get to know the person before the problem or offering a solution.
  1. Never assume you know how much a customer will spend, so present all the products starting with the most expensive.
  1. Help the customer decide today is the day to solve their gift, replacement, or desire for something new.

Retail is different. It should be more human.

In sum

Brick-and-mortar retail is morphing into shopping anywhere, any time, and on any device in any store.

Miss these best practice fundamentals and you’re destined to be left in retail hell where constant sales, high employee turnover, and increased competition live.

You can be brilliant on these commandments, execute them with every interaction, and make sure to talk about them in every meeting.

Bob Phibbs, “The Retail Doctor,” is a 30-plus year retail expert with a proven track record to help brands lift sales, turn their retail staff into real salespeople, and get more out of their store traffic with innovative retail marketing tactics. Contact him at 562-260-2266, or visit his website, where this article first appeared.

Published: March 12th, 2021

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