“Where is everyone?”
That must have been the plaintiff plea of countless Australian retailers and business leaders during the traditional, annual June winter and stock take sale period.
Many retailers opened their doors to empty or near empty pavements.
Television news crews, fulfilling assignments to capture the teeming and surging crowds, returned to their studios in search of file footage from past events.
The nationwide retail sector was having a party, but few were accepting the invitation. Where was Corey when you needed him !!! Guest appearances on “Big Brother” were doing little or nothing to the ratings or the bottom line.
Some legal practitioners have made money. They provided the consulting advice that a sale is an “invitation to treat”, as distinct from an” invitation to a treat!”
Consumer indifferences to the sales was palpable. Sales event fatigue was evident everywhere. Moreover, consumers have become sensitive to the reality that there is no or little financial disincentive when they did not respond to a particular sale. There was the common attitude that there was always tomorrow, next week or next month, when the same retail outlet, its competitors or substitutes would most probably be conducting a promotion or similar event with equally attractive offers.
The figurative muscle-power and deep pockets of major national retail chains were funding bigger advertisements with bolder headlines, offers of up to 50% off recommended retail prices and the availability of five year interest free loans. It was all to little or no avail.
Comparative same period sales receipts were down or at best, flat. Given average and typical retail price increases during the preceding 12 months of between 6% and 10%, that suggests unit sales were consistently in decline.
There was little difference in industrial sales and with business-to-business transactions. “End-of-financial year” and “stocktaking sales”, or in essence “clearings” were generally met with stonewall resistance from corporate clients. They too have become financially prudent, lowering inventories and being immune to the temptations of discount prices. The just-in-time philosophy is a lot like that!
The time is nigh for investment in the training of people and upgrading (in some instances, the introduction) of efficient database management and customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
Really knowing, connecting with and giving commitment to existing prospective and past customers and clients are collectively the most efficient, effective and immediate means to increase immediately revenues, margins, profits and customer satisfaction. It is never too late.
Relevance of a business, its people, products and services is enhanced from a better understanding of the lifestyles, business circumstances, aspirations and individual needs of consumers, companies, departments and networks.
Such calls for action beg the question, why wasn’t it done before? For some, it was. It is they who are enjoying better, more stable and in isolated instances, significant increases in demand, sales and profits.
A central issue in addressing the evolving and enveloping marketplace is time. Some will contend it is too late. Others will suggest that it will take time. More will state that the current priorities of accelerating cash flows and increasing available cash leaves little time, money or resources to address these propositions.
Each may contain an element of truth. However, Albert Einstein would contend that time is relative.
If no action is taken now, just how much time is left …. to take remedial action or..., period.
It’s time to marshal one’s resources. Energy, creativity, product and customer knowledge, positive thought and actively taking assertive initiatives counts for a lot in these times.
THINGS TO AVOID
A herd mentality is something to avoid at most times, particularly now. The booking of and payment for bigger advertisements (regardless of the media) with bolder headlines and more financially attractive offers will not necessarily be appropriate or prudent.
DON’T DO IT ALONE
Regardless of size or capabilities, the best prospects for success are with the collegiate and strategic partnership initiatives involving suppliers, distributors, associates and customers, together with purchasing, marketing and neighbourhood networks. Common bonds typically provide common platforms for joint and multiple positive flow on effects.
Understandably, concerns pervade the business, economic and personal landscapes. There is a reluctance to outlay anything at this time without some measure of surety of a positive and relatively short term return.
Considerable cerebral energy will be expended in determining what new and innovative things can be undertaken to have impact and to provide “value-add”.
Spare a thought then for a little contrarian thinking.
Sideline for a moment contemplation about what new and more can be done.
Attention on what one should and can stop doing…. NOW, is one avenue for freeing up things and channelling available resources to high return activities.
This should be a process undertaken at the margin. For many people their typical week involves up to 30% of time being involved and indulged in things that show little or no economic advantage. No matter how pleasurable, perhaps these things can be deleted or, at best, put on hold.
More available time provides the scope to contact, walk among and engage existing and prospective customers and clients. The rewards can be immense.