7 tips for a retail turnaround

Authenticity is vital to retail. Despite this, we often see lacklustre attempts by ailing brands to imitate successful rivals.

There is nothing more degrading to employees and a discerning public than a business that goes down the quick-fix route of being a copycat, rather than taking inspiration from the marketplace and moulding it to suit their brand.

Businesses that seek external salvation in the guise of self-proclaimed gurus and their technological speculation are only made worse by a reluctance to surround themselves with a team of forthright professionals.

Poor direction and weak leadership add to the slump in foot traffic, while courage is the main catalyst for meaningful change. Determination to adhere to sound business practice and mentoring a workforce toward a culture of inclusion are perquisites for success.

Forget preaching to a ruined choir of the old guard for it will not ignite entrepreneurial passions, nor will it inspire the trust of a maligned shop floor. Businesses need to expunge all traces of bureaucracy and eradicate the crippling effects of micromanagement.

We need only observe world politics to see that integrity is what separates true leaders from all other modus operandi.

Without ethics, a soundness of moral character and clear transparency, we come across dictators, despots, authoritarians, autocrats and administrators. All of whom meet their demise at the will of the people.

Troubled retailers pursuing superficial change resolve little other than the ominous signs of decay – a cosmetic farce that fools no-one. So too, the blatant copying of competitors further exposes a brand’s defects for they are not transferable or believable.

There are no shortcuts to a turnaround, nor is it an easy path to follow.

However, the alternative is a spiral to oblivion, a slippery slope complicated by advice from disconnected soothsayers and self-professed experts peddling silver bullet solutions and high-tech investments.

7 steps to a business turnaround

  1. Remove the cancerous middle echelons of management.
  2. Reduce the onerous weight of support structures.
  3. Replace hoary mindsets.
  4. Rebuke instances of the tall poppy syndrome.
  5. Readdress inconsistencies and resist the constraints of unfettered administration.
  6. Strive for the uniqueness of theatre for the shopper and team alike. The two go hand-in-hand, despite a modern-day tendency that suggests otherwise.
  7. Summon the courage to be authentic, and in doing so, appreciate that retail is about people.

It is for people and must always be delivered by people. The rest is window dressing.

Author: Dave Farrell has 30 years retail and business management in Europe, Africa and Australasia. 

This article first appeared in Inside Retail, a sibling publication to Inside Franchise Business.