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Retailer Focus: Clean or Cluttered

Posted on  | June 5, 2014   Bookmark and Share
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What’s your store’s character?

At Rosen Retail we have run, operated and reset businesses into varied formats, but you can probably boil all of them down to two basic types: cluttered and clean. Both can work—it all depends on what your operating preference is. Blondes vs. Brunettes? Sausage vs. Pepperoni? California vs. Miami? What are the operational cues given to you from your customers that will make the difference?

The Clean Store

There are many advantages to a clean and well-designed store. Much data support the notion that a store that is pleasant to shop in, clean and well-lit will garner a higher average ticket and increase shopper time. Every additional 17 minutes will garner an additional $4.00.

The clean store format will make it easy to find and locate goods, comparison shop and get exactly what the customer came in for. A clean store often gets rated higher on social media and Yelp. A clean store makes it easier for the operator to run the business, fill orders and stay organized.

The Cluttered Store

I am partial here. I like cluttered stores. Cluttered stores have a sense of legacy and operational history. Cluttered stores have positive data on their side as well. Research shows that when a customer hunts and pecks for goods, cart value will increase because of that unintended “find” on the sales floor.

Cluttered stores often increase sales because when shoppers cannot find what they are seeking they ask for sales help. When they ask for help it gives the associate a chance to increase the basket, upsell or spend time with the customer.

Where a customer shops is a reflection of how they feel when they are in an establishment. A comfortable shopper will spend more time and money in your store, and that is so very important. It is up to us as retailers to understand what the customer is asking for and to really understand what the community wants.

Small? Be Smart. And Different!

The big boxes are coming to your neighborhood and it does not matter where in America you live. Big, clean, price-cutting retailers are squeezing in on the local independent. With this truth evident we need to change the game on how we retail.

Be different! If your store layout is a point of differentiation, then play to that point of differentiation. Being smaller also means being more nimble and having more opportunity to compete on your terms. The average big box store visit is 23 minutes; that means it is an ordeal and a process. It involves planning and organization. If your store is easy to get in, easy to shop and easy to checkout, then you have an advantage. Play to your advantage.

Also, look at your store as an extension of your business personality. A cluttered store can also give the impression of unorganized, or sloppy operations. A clean store can give impression rigid operations with uncompressing style.

Here is the net/net: No matter how you lay out your store, clean or cluttered, it is a representation of you and your business. While I prefer a cluttered store for many reasons, including a “garage sale” feeling, it is not for everybody. A clean and uncluttered store is wonderful and often leads to a higher demographic of female shoppers, the family decision-makers. No matter which way you go, the image that is put out to the consumer will be the image that is left with the consumer.

In this age of social media, Yelp and digital word-of-mouth, it is important that your store covers at least four critical points:

  • Easy in and out
  • Well-lit with a manageable layout
  • Priced and signed correctly with ample inventory
  • Helpful and knowledgeable staff

With these four points covered by the retailer the clean or cluttered question comes off the table and the independent retailer will be better able to compete against the continued growth of the big box wine and spirit retailer.
Rosen Retail for Alcohol Beverage offers support to retailers and suppliers alike, having created Supplier Boot Camp and Retailer Boot Camp and other award-winning programs that increase gross margin for retailers and cases sold for suppliers. Brian Rosen can be reached at brian@briandrosen.com.


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