The Retail Innovation Leader

When was the last time you did anything in your store that was truly innovative?

Or have you been standing pat, waiting for the customers to return?

of my clients come to me with one thing in common – they are doing
things the way they’ve seemingly always done them. Only the results have
changed, and not for the better.

I’m reminded of a saying I
first heard years ago, in an earlier incarnation in my retail career –
If you’re not going forward you’re going backward, because the world
never stands still.

The retailing future belongs to the
innovative. It’s always been that way. When you first opened your store,
you offered your community, your customers, something new, fresh and
exciting – and better. Whether you offered better assortments, better
quality, better service, a better experience, it was better. That’s why
your customers came.

For many independent retailers, however,
there aren’t quite as many customers as there once was. For several
years, transaction counts have been under a lot of pressure. The
customers that came were spending as much as they ever had, if not more,
but there just weren’t as many of them as there had been.

seems to me there are two ways to respond to this. The first is to do
nothing. Assume the problem is the economy, and that as things improve
the customers will return. As more people find they have money to spend,
they’ll once again spend it with you.

The other response is to
become the innovation leader. Innovating in retail takes many forms. It
may be a store remodel. It may be remerchandising the existing space. It
may be extending assortments into fresh categories. It may be offering
brand new services. It is whatever makes you distinctive, fresh,

Innovation is reinvention. It involves refocusing
your passion, and thinking about your customers in fresh ways. Think
outside the box, smash a few sacred cows. Why do your customers really
come to you? What else can you do for them? What else can you sell them?
What can you offer that’s new, fresh and exciting?

It may seem
that adopting a strategy of innovation is a risky proposition. But you
never find hoardes of customers in stores that are merely doing the same
old thing. Standing pat is standing still – and standing still is the
same as going backwards, because the world never stands still. It’s
always moving forward.