How to Be Successful in Retail: Make the Customer Happy

For as long as I can remember people fixate on things that threaten parts of the retail business.  Recent issues grabbing headlines include showrooming and competing with Amazon.  Previously people wondered how retailers would survive the recession, and before that everyone was worried about Walmart taking over the retail world.  The conversations evolve, as does the retail business, however the core elements of retail remain unchanged.  Being successful in retail is about making the customer happy.

I have spent a great deal of time thinking about what makes retailers successful.  Growing up in a retail family business I had a strong desire to understand the business beginning at a young age.  Starting in high school I worked on the sales floor of my family's clothing store.  Over several summers I worked in various departments including shoes, men's tailored clothing, customer service/returns, as well as behind the register.  In each role I paid close attention to everything that I came across: how goods were received, how managers handled issues, how associates conducted themselves, how customers acted, how goods were merchandised, and more.  In addition to learning the store's business and operations, I experienced firsthand the joys and stresses of dealing with customers.

After college I built upon this experience by going to work as an assistant buyer at Bed Bath & Beyond.  At Bed Bath & Beyond I paid close attention to everything just as I had done while working on the sales floor of my family's business.  In this experience I was not on the retail floor, but instead in the buying office working directly with over 800 stores.  I was at Bed Bath & Beyond for three and a half years, and was part of a team that ran a sizable business and regularly took on innovative initiatives.

Additionally, since I began working in retail I have paid close attention to industry news stories.  Before there were so many efficient ways to save stories online I used to cut out and save retail related news that I saw in the newspaper.  I was always curious about what other retailers were doing, and why they were successful or unsuccessful.

Now at MerchantFuse I continue to explore the world of retail, though I come from a slightly different angle (since I am no longer a retailer myself).

Throughout all of these experiences I always come back to the same conclusion - success in retail is about making the customer happy.  Over the next several posts I will highlight some key elements that equate to customer happiness.

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