I bought a newly-introduced Dell Inspiron Mini 9-inch laptop from QVC three weeks ago. The power cord, which is as small as my black cell phone charger, promptly went missing. It was a Sunday.
My friend J.D. made several calls to all the biggies – Officemax, Radio Shack and Best Buy, all of whom said the computer is too new for them to have the cord. Sure enough, I found the cord on a quick trip to Walmart. It was no big deal to them. How do they get it when the rest of the electronic industry is still trying to catch up? It's because everyone goes there. Today, MSN said if you want to know how the holiday shopping will go, look at the Walmart numbers.
I would prefer to go to Radio Shack or anyone other than Walmart, but the fact is you can count on them for almost anything. So, while we can’t all be Walmart we can at least pay attention to our customers' needs and stock what’s important to them.
- Do you subscribe to industry newsletters and magazines? Industry papers have information on product introductions and best practices.
- How do you share the information with your salespeople? Do you circulate the papers and important articles?
- Do you advertise what has value to the customer?
- Do you know what’s valuable to your customers? Do they care what’s new or is it service that your customers really want?
- Do you attend industry conventions to look at products, marketing and product trends? Surfaces is coming, remember.
- Are you connected to the blogs related to your industry? Check out TalkFloor for the flooring industry.
- Do you have an alignment with a buying group, distributor or mill? Are you taking advantage of their advertising packages and training?
- Do you find time to network with other retailers, or the Chamber of Commerce?
- Have you spoken with your core customers lately and asked them what you might do to improve your services?
- Do you offer WiFi for your customers if your store is appropriate for it? Even McDonald's is getting in on it!
We can't be "everything" to our customers, but we can at least do what we can.