By Moe Lastfogel
Director of Sales and Marketing for The Retail Observer
With everything we see today — a teetering economy, stocks on a virtual rollercoaster and retail indicators bouncing around like a warped super-ball — we need to stop and think about what we are doing to help ourselves in our current state, as well as how we are going to prepare for what is yet to come. I’m not a soothsayer, but I do see no matter where we are in our economic cycle that change will always happen. How we handle that change today will be what takes us into the future.
How many of you stick to one product? Are you a white goods only dealer or consumer electronics house? Do you sell only furniture? With the various buying groups we cover, I have been afforded the opportunity to speak with many dealers, and the ones who weather the storms the best seem to have a diverse line list or marketing strategy. They sell many, not just in one category or two, or they sell the optional added value products with their main lines.
If you are a white goods dealer, why not sell pots and pans, small appliances, vacuums and even laundry detergent? The customer who is doing a full kitchen remodel is likely to end up buying pots and pans and would jump at the option of buying them new from someone they trust. If you are doing in-house cooking demos, why not offer the specialty products and food items that you use? Gourmet food products might also be a nice addition. A spatula bearing your company logo actually goes a long way towards developing loyal customers.
If you are selling consumer electronics, why not sell the cables, installation, and furniture for a home theater including popcorn machines and hot dog cookers? Why not put a video rental kiosk in your store to generate passive income? What about throwing Monday night football parties in your store, with specials on products? Furniture stores also have a great opportunity to sell all the accessories to create a complete package: lamps, pictures, vases and bedding products are all high margin items and will all help with your bottom line.
But why stop there? Don’t forget a salesman’s best friend, the warranty, which is the most forgotten high-profit piece that we miss in the excitement of the sale. I’m not suggesting you go out tomorrow and open your own Sears-style store, but why not look at what you sell, ask your customer what they would buy and act on it? Many vendors today would jump on the opportunity to open these new markets and help you get going.