Saturday, February 05, 2005

Put an iron bucket on your head

Making Ads Work blog has the tale of Ned, Fred, an Iron Bucket and a Thunderbolt. It's about branding. Honest.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Retail business success: Scotty's Market

Terra Linda, California's Scotty's Market is a neighborhood grocery store that's successfully competing with the giants in a cutthroat industry. They've created real differences between themselves and the chain stores.
With a deli famous with folks across the city, expansive kosher and organic sections, and a huge popcorn machine near the produce section busily churning out free snacks for customers as they shop, the business celebrating 48 years this year is here to stay, officials said.

"We have kind of got a lot of everything in this little store," said owner Steve Bianchini, 48, a Novato resident who has worked at Scotty's since he was 15.

"We do new things in this store all the time. We will continue to do things that, to me, keeps this place interesting and fun," he said. "We try to stay on top of the things out there.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Retail management: Best Buy and niches

Over at the Just Looking blog, Mark Askey comments on Best Buy's attempt to open new niches with boutique stores.
I wonder if the Magnolia HiFi stores they purchased a few years ago will be part of this test. Mag HIFI was a Northwest Audio Video dealer who catered to the higher end customer. Best Buy purchased them a few years ago and promptly killed their reputation. Customer service went down the drain and now it seems the commission structure is gone, so you have a bunch of people standing around with little interest in closing the sale.
It's not enough to have a niche. You've got to pay attention to the basics of good retailing.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

E-commerce: two tiny retailers on the net

A plus-size women's apparel retailer and a gift shop in Mississippi are sucessfully selling on the Internet. Read all about the resources they used to get started and how they promote their businesses.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Retail management: manufacturing for retail

Bringing manufacturing closer to retail stores can have a benefit for both ... fast response times and smaller inventories.
It's not a view that’s probably widely held in many parts of Britain these days, but Giles Gilhooly is happy to declare his belief that manufacturing - at least in the retail trade and on a small scale - will make a comeback over the coming years, driven by the demands of fashion.

The opinion offered by the director of garment design firm Fast Forward Scotland flies in the face of recent evidence, which has seen a massive exodus of manufacturing capacity to less-costly labour markets, such as eastern Europe and the Far Fast.

"The major high street retailers don’t have the facility to react to changes in fashion trends quickly enough," Mr Gilhooly, a former international water polo player, says.

"That can leave them a step behind. I’m adamant on manufacturing coming back round and playing a vital part in the retail supply in the UK," he adds.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Business book review: Blink

The New York Times book review of Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, a book about the power of first impressions.
''Blink'' is part of a wave of books on brain function that are sweeping over us as we learn more about the action inside our own heads. This literature is going to have a powerful effect on our culture, maybe as powerful as the effect Freudianism had on our grandparents' time (the last time somebody tried to explain the brain's backstage process).

We should be a little wary of surrendering this field to the scientists. Philosophers ranging from Vico to Michael Oakeshott to Isaiah Berlin were writing about thin-slicing (which they called ''wisdom'') long before the scientists started picking apart our neurons, and long before psychologists started showing people snippets of videotape. And much of what they observe is more profound than anything you can capture with some ginned-up control group test in a psychology lab.

I'm sure Gladwell knows all this. Perhaps it's unfair to expect him to write a book that encompasses Isaiah Berlin and the ''love lab.'' It's just that in the general culture the psychiatrists and neuroscientists are eclipsing the philosophers, and that's horrible.

If you want to trust my snap judgment, buy this book: you'll be delighted. If you want to trust my more reflective second judgment, buy it: you'll be delighted but frustrated, troubled and left wanting more.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Retail marketing: write the book

One way to promote your retail store is to literally "write the book" about your products. The Real Goods company has done that with the Solar Living Sourcebook. Edited by Real Goods President and Founder John Schaeffer, the 12th Edition is the ultimate resource on renewable energy, sustainable living, alternative construction, green building, homesteading, off-the-grid living and alternative transportation. It includes new sections on Solar Utility Intertie, Alternative Sources of Fuel including biodiesel and hydrogen fuel cells and Hybrid Vehicles; plus completely updated sections. This is much more than a catalog ... it's a real book and guide to sustainable technology.

Writing "the book" on your niche of products is obviously a major undertaking, but it will make you the authority in your field. You can test the waters at low cost and with less effort by creating the most informative and authoratative website on your retail niche.

Starting a retail business: money

If you're thinking about starting a small business, get ready to hit up those near and dear to you. A worldwide survey of entrepreneurship concluded that self-funding and informal investment fuels development of 99.9% of new businesses. Entrepreneurs provide 65.8% of startup capital, while others -- mostly informal investors, including family and friends -- provide the balance. The survey concluded that individuals seeking to launch a small business are wasting their time by looking for angel investors or seeking to tap venture capital funds.

And remember ... there are no grants.