Research shows that 90% of businesses do not know what their customers want. In a world burdened with financial difficulties, American stores need to shape up. According to a four-year study conducted by the market intelligence firm, BIGresearch, most customers will put value and service ahead of price. That’s right. Even though your store may be just a tad more expensive than the one next door, if yours provides quality assistance for consumers, they will choose you over the lower-priced competition.

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Should your employees receive a discount for purchasing products from your store? In my view, there are several compelling reasons why you should consider it.

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As more and more baby boomers pass the 50th birthday landmark, this consumer-base deserves a second look. Baby boomers are reaching retirement age, which means they will have more time on their hands and more money to spend. In fact, according to www.businessweek.com, the current population between the ages of 60 and 70 has the annual spending power of about $1 trillion.

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April. Your taxes are done. Flu season’s over, and supplement sales are cooling down. Unless your store is located in a summer tourist area, you are facing relatively lower sales over the next few months. This might be a good time to take advantage of the lull and improve your merchandising plan.

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In a day and age where Wendy’s, Burger King and McDonald’s commercials rule the air, one man strives to make a difference. Sid Lerner, famously known for his “Squeeze the Charmin” commercials, resurrected the idea of “Meatless Mondays.”

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How do you create an effective end cap? Here are a few tips.

1. An end cap is promotional, so you should refresh it at least once per month.
2. Pick your theme first, like “Heart Health Month” for February.
3. Use a visual design concept based on the theme, such as pink hearts, to increase “wow” factor.
4. Less is more. Select fewer products, and stock them deeper than usual.

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No one likes to be kept waiting, especially a customer. Checking-out is an experience just as important as a customer entering your store; you want to make great first and last impressions so your customers keep coming back.

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In this month's issue, you’ll find WholeFoods’ 34th Annual Retailer Survey. There’s lots of good news to report. Smaller stores, those under 2,600 square feet, which have struggled the last few years, showed signs of strength, reporting higher sales, profits and larger basket sizes. Overall, two main trends emerged from the survey.

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Nothing is more frustrating than managing staff members who cut corners, do the bare minimum and contribute little to the team. You can’t force your workers to be as passionate as you are about your business, but you can do a lot to motivate them.

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How can you attract Hispanic shoppers? For insight, I spoke with Sue Hamby, Ph.D., owner of Discover Natural Foods, in Temple, TX, a 3,000-square-foot store focusing on vitamins, supplements and natural foods. Dr. Hamby realized that her trade area had become so diverse; she needed a culturally relevant marketing plan, and began to research the Hispanic market.

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