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Winning at Retail

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Winning at Retail

Developing a Sustained Model for Retail Success


15 min read
10 take-aways
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What's inside?

To survive, today's retailers must be best at one of these: low prices, easy shopping, fast service, choice or fashion.

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Montgomery Ward, Woolworth’s and stumbled into irrelevancy before they knew what hit them. Authors and retail consultants Willard Ander and Neil Stern explain what went wrong and tell retailers how to stay alive and thrive. They prescribe their theory, called "Est," as in the superlative suffix. Be the best, they say, in assortment (biggest), price (cheapest), customer service (easiest), speed of service (quickest) or fashion (hottest). Being "pretty good" at everything no longer works. The abundance of choices in today’s transparent, digital marketplace has spawned information-overloaded, fickle, demanding customers. The authors tend to generalize about what good companies are doing right rather than describing how also-ran retailers might turn things around, but there is plenty of advice here for those who are willing to take it. getAbstract recommends this glib pep talk of a book - if for no other reason than to jolt retailers out of believing they’re doing everything possible to keep customers coming back.


The Black Hole of Retailing

Faced with increasing competition, more retailers are crumbling. How can you avoid their fate? The "Est" theory of retailing recommends devoting your organization, top to bottom, to becoming first in one area. Commit everything from employees to marketing to products, to one of five values: 1) "Big-est" assortment; 2) "Cheap-est" price; 3) "Easy-est" use; 4) "Quick-est" service; or 5) "Hot-est" or most fashionable selections. Use Est conceptually, for planning, evaluating and setting strategy. It only works if you commit to being number one for your set of customers. Don’t be everything to everybody, but be the best at what you do.

This is not just branding. It’s execution. Take Wal-Mart. From back-end to front, it focuses on low prices. From its smiley-face, price-dropping commercials to its relentless push to hold down product and delivery prices, it is cheapest and leads its category on that proposition.

Putting Customers First

Few retailers excel at customer service. Do retailers present goods so customers can shop easily? Usually you need a clerk’s help to find things - if you can find a clerk. Just try looking for a blue...

About the Authors

Willard Ander and Neil Stern are senior partners at McMillan/Doolittle, international retail consultants. Ander consults on retail strategy, new store development and retail best practices. Stern consults on strategic planning and development of new retail concepts. He also edits the firm’s Retail Watch newsletter.

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