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Five Pillars of Excellence for Retailers in 2015


From Valentine’s Day to Christmas, the year is filled with big moments for retailers – but a retailer’s strategy should be much more than a numbers game during these times. Rather, these moments present an opportunity to build momentum for the entire year with a 360-degree brand strategy that gives shoppers an unforgettable experience that will keep them coming back.

To maximize the potential benefits of big retail moments throughout 2015, keep these five pillars in mind:

1.Use big retail moments to complement your brand. If you are a mass or even affordable luxury retailer, consider yourself obligated to play the game during key retail moments throughout the year. Not participating in these events puts your brand at a competitive disadvantage in terms of sales and awareness. But here’s the catch: your approach to these major retail moments needs to be part of an overall, year-long pricing and promotion strategy that complements your brand. If there’s a disconnect in this strategy, you won’t capture repeat business. You can maintain that brand integrity if your promotions are a big value, as well as something hugely differentiating – ideally an offer or experience that only your brand would or could make.

2. Embrace your employees. Your employees are your brand ambassadors. During critical retail moments, they must embrace that role more than ever. Retail managers lead the charge through attitude and behavior, and set the tone and expectations for peak retail seasons. Their job is to rally the troops and incent the right behavior.

Bring employees in on sales deals, pay a premium for working high-volume days, create friendly competitions or come up with something entirely new to foster the retail spirit. Keep in mind, though, that most employees value recognition above all else. You don’t have to upend your economics to get your team focused on service excellence. After all, it's pressure that creates diamonds.

3. Be the first. The first store where customers shop on big retail days is often where they spend the most money. Be that first stop. Start by creating an amazingly differentiated offer or experience. You want shoppers to see your business as “the only one to do X.” Then, spread the word. Double down on search engine optimization and amplify your blow-away offering through social and earned media.

Finally, make good on that offer or experience. Unnecessary out of stocks, disorganization or inadequate staffing will cancel out the unique factor, create negative word of mouth and squash repeat business. Shoppers are more apt to be loyal to reliable brands that exceed their expectations and make brand interaction simple and fast, particularly during hectic shopping periods.

4. Use big retail moments as a springboard for your strategy. Don’t view big retail moments just as a way to make earnings numbers. Look at these days as an opportunity to meet new customers – customers you want back in your store many times after the busy period ends. Focus on keeping new customers and developing your brand with them for the long-term through loyalty programs, special offers and unique experiences.

View the weeks leading up to big retail days as an opportunity to build anticipation with special offers and promotions in advance of the big day. If your strategy is aligned with your overall strategy and core values, busy shopping seasons can also be a chance to capture valuable customer data and revitalize your brand and recommit to old and new customers as well as your mission.

5. View online sales as the second of two punches. An online sales strategy for big retail days shouldn’t be seen as a threat to the bricks and mortar component of your business. Rather, it should be viewed as an opportunity to create an omnichannel retail experience for your customers.

Keep in mind that not all shoppers get a thrill out of fighting the crowds, and would instead prefer to engage with your brand through other touch points. Promotions should be designed as part of a cohesive program that accounts for both online and offline customer behavior and that is phased-in over a period of time before and after a big sale day.

Brands that take a thoughtful and strategic approach to key retail moments throughout the year will not only make a strong showing, they will engage old customers, win new customers, build brand equity, differentiate from the competition and set themselves up for success year round.

Joe Jackman is CEO of Jackman Reinvents, a company that helps businesses reposition themselves through management consulting, research and insights, brand strategy and marketing, 360° customer experience, environmental design and activation. The Jackman Reinvents team has worked with companies in a wide variety of industries, including Walgreens, Duane Reade, David’s Bridal, Dave & Buster’s, Rexall, and Hertz among others. He can be reached at [email protected].

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