Critical Note: Big mistakes retailers make (and how to fix them)

A retailer buys traditionally from wholesaler and sell to final consumers. It is trite to say that the informal sector dominated by retailers contribute no less than 45% of Nigeria’s GDP anually, in the past two years.

Corner shop mallams, kiosk owners and the petty traders at the local market form the engine of our economy. These retailers by their nature carry the burden of starting, developing and growing their small and micro businesses. It is therefore important that they wake up to the new reality as businesses that refuse to align with current market trends risk being put out of the market.

First off, as a retailer, how are you presenting your products in the market? What are you doing differently from your competitors? Do you play catch up with strategies deployed by rivals? Change the way you arrange your wares. Repaint your kiosk as at when due. Customers would appreciate buying from clean shops and stalls. They are not fools.

Next is attitude. The big elephant in the small room. Your customers are human beings and so have their low moods when they easily lose their temper or forget to observe courtesies. Watch your reaction in those periods and always be optimistic in them. Keeping a customer is harder than gaining a new one. Let your customers know you are above small insults and are only interested in making them happy.

Are customers king? Yes. Ford Motor Company and General Motors Company both headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, spent $2.34 billion and $3.77 billion on advertising in 2016 respectively. These were attempts by these companies to lure customers from their competitors. Innovations in business engendered by information and communication technology have provided final consumers a wide range of product and service options to choose from.

Finally, get closer to your customers without invading their privacy. If you notice a boil on a customer’s forehead and you are not a physician, suggest a medication you or a third person have found effective as cure. Suggest other options to your customers if you unavoidably run out of stock of a particular brand. You could even offer to help them buy from your competitors. It is counterintuitive but endears you to them. The product and service markets are full of substitutes that you have got to be socially intelligent to keep your customers from buying from your competitors. When you are in business, you are in constant competition even with yourself.

Share your own big mistakes and how to fix them in the comments. They are welcome.

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