Retail can be a very tough business. There are lots of pressures, lots of things to do, problems to solve, customers to help, employees to coach, vendors to negotiate with, and that’s just before lunch on Monday!

All of us who are part of Retail Smart Guys provide open to buy planning, sure. But we also find that we have to help in other areas of the business, too. As retail consultants who are in retail stores every day of our lives, we see the good, the bad, and the ugly in this business. We see what works and what doesn’t. We admire those who take the time to build out beautiful stores, who really establish solid connections with their customers, who understand how to make their inventory presentations exciting and fun. I suppose this is true of many retail consultants around the world.

But one of the things that we’ve noticed recently, is that we provide one other thing that is perhaps one of our greatest values. It’s that our customers can talk to us about their business, freely and openly, and get the help they need. Let me clarify this a bit.

Many retailers certainly seek out advice from a number of sources, and most commonly from vendors. Vendors certainly have a great view of the marketplace, and they too see a lot of what goes on in the retail space. But in the end, the vendor’s solution to a retailer’s problems will be to buy their product. It’s a little like that old saying, “To a carpenter, everything is solved with a hammer.”

For us as consultants, the only thing we honestly care about is whether or not that retailer has made money, and if they are happy doing so. In terms of product or vendor solution, we don’t “have a dog in the fight” (a new saying for me – but it basically means that it doesn’t matter to us which vendor the retailer buys, as long as it contributes positively to the store and makes the retailer money.)

The same can be said for nearly anything else in the store – marketing, employee relations, technology, finance. We know a lot about each of these areas, so retailers can freely talk to us about it. And, just as I wrote above, we don’t have a dog in the fight – we just want the retailer to do better, to win at the game of retail, and (dare I say it) have fun at the same time.

You could say that there are others that the retailer could talk to – spouses, friends, etc., and that is probably true. However, unless these people are also in the retail business, they may not be as good a source of counseling and information as an impartial person who is deeply connected to the marketplace as we are.

That’s what makes consultants an important part of the mix for most retailers. Someone they can REALLY talk to. And to be honest, that’s what makes me the most proud of what we do. We help people, who just happen to be retailers, become more successful.

Talk to us. We’d love to hear from you. I even put my cell phone number below so you can reach me anytime.