Like most, I’ve seen my family wealth shrink. I’ve seen friends and colleagues get laid off. I’ve seen the stock market continue to be eaten up by the bears. I’m seeing the catalog/multichannel business, as we know it, dwindle, while the overall retail business is in tatters. I’ve seen the size of our magazine diminish as the vendor community is hurting big-time. And I’ve seen some of our competitors all but disappear.
Virtually all the articles I read in BusinessWeek, Fortune, The New York Times business section and other business media are genuinely depressing. And when it comes to the retail community, if you’re not on the Wal-Mart Express, your numbers are heading downward.
What do we do about all this, kids? Fold up our tents and go home? Of course not. There’s business out there to be had, at least somewhere. We all need to change our thinking and concern ourselves with surviving this year.
4 Survival Strategies
For the non-Wal-Mart set, I offer these four survival strategies. See if any of them might work for you.
1. Try three parts value, one part price. We all know nobody beats Wal-Mart on price. Heck, some upscale shoppers who’d ordinarily buy jewelry at Tiffany might be migrating to Wal-Mart for some cubic zirconia pretty soon. So communicate through your Web site, print catalogs, e-mails and stores — if you operate any — that your products offer great value.
Bundle items together, and let customers know they’re less expensive as a package than they ordinarily would be when sold separately. But don’t try to make it look as if you’re a low-cost leader, because you can’t be. Still, loyal customers or consumers who find you via search want value — real or perceived — and bundled items appeal to them. Be sure what you bundle is your good stuff, not the cheapest junk you’re trying to unload. And to reprise a past suggestion I made in this space: Sell needs, not wants, this year.