How do you become a great retailer?

How do you become a great retailer?

A while ago, a friend I’ve known  over the years in this industry offered up a stark introspection of his own business (a multi-faceted retail space) that was refreshing to me. He said (paraphrasing):

“We have always been able to position ourselves as a great retailer, based solely on selection. We have been the access point for people to find brands, and now that advantage is gone”.

So how can you reposition yourself as a great retailer? To me, the answer is simple: run your business like a skate shop. Now I’m sure you’re thinking I’m crazy for saying this, we all know it is harder than ever to make money in the skate industry, but hear me out.

When you look around at the businesses that are popping up in every town, to me, they all look like skate shops.

What do the Craft Brewery, the Spin Studio, the local donut or ice cream shop have in common with a skate shop? A passionate owner, a niche audience, combined to create a business that builds a community. These businesses, much like the skate shops that came up before them, foster a tribe mentality that customers want to be a part of.

All of these businesses sell things that you can get everywhere else. But more importantly, they sell a brand that you can’t get anywhere else.

Steve Thorpe, alumni of our biz, now builds brands in the food and beverage world. In an interview with Small Business BC, he said this about how they built their beer brand Postmark Brewing:

“In any market that’s that crowded, that competitive, you have to stand out, and you have to look at the pillars of your brand and what you want to be known for.”

What do you want to be known for? Look at who you are. Look at what your brand says about who you are. Does it match up? Does it tell the world your story?

We think about brands all the time in retail, but how often do we think about our own brand? When we start the business? Every morning? Every five years? Never?

Knowing who you are and what you stand for will help clarify your identity and your brand promise. This knowledge will allow you to make decisions about what you carry and the retail experience you want to deliver. It will also help determine what your customers expect from you whenever they engage with your brand.

The answer to becoming a great retailer? By being a great brand.

Perry Pugh, KNOWSHOW Founder


PS. to learn more about how great brands think and act, make sure to catch Steve in conversation with Marie-Phillipe Jean, Bob Kronbauer and Kenny MacIntyre at the KNOWHOW Conference on July 8th. Seating is limited, we hope to see you there!

Jani Tsui