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Retailers must learn from the past, live in the present, plan for the future

Retailers must learn from the past, live in the present, plan for the future

Running a successful retail outlet is a bit of a juggling act. In addition to managing employees, store owners must make sure their display tables and clothing racks are in order, customers are happy and revenue is coming in steadily. To make this challenge easier, merchants should learn from their past, live in the present and plan for the future.

Learning from the past
Organizational and strong record-keeping skills are important qualities for a shop owner, as being able to look back over your store's history can provide valuable insight into what has worked well and what has been a flop. Whether you use a computer program or keep records by hand, you can use the information to analyze which promotions were successful, when certain items were popular and what store traffic has been like during various parts of the year. Once you've collected this data, you can use it to prepare for the years to come. For example, if you find that shoe sales traditionally take off in the springtime, then you should move your gondola shelves containing sneakers, sandals or dress shoes to the front of your store in the coming weeks.

Living in the moment
While learning from the past is important, you can't rely on it entirely. Times are always changing, and as a merchant, you must be ready to change with them. Keeping an eye on the news (and weather reports) can help you make day-to-day decisions in your shop. If you know that your city is in for a rainy week, then you should make sure your wall racks are fully stocked with umbrellas. If you notice a product you sell is getting a lot of media attention, showcase it in your front window or display cases.

Planning for the future
Unless you sell crystal balls, you probably can't tell the future, but this doesn't mean you can't have some contingency plans in place. For instance, you can buy wholesale shopping bags in bulk if you think you'll have bountiful sales in the near future. Do you like to get festive for the holidays? Then order your decorations well in advance (when they're on sale) and store them off-site or in the back room until the time has come to put them up. It may be impossible to predict what lies ahead, but there's no harm in being prepared for everything!