Do You Know Your Place?

Every retailer’s performance is determined by context. The category (market) context. The customer context. The competitor context. The company context.

How long has it been since you’ve thought through the context in which you compete? Have you ever thought it through in detail?

When you don’t know your place you have little visibility of the performance your business can achieve and sustain. Examining your context doesn’t need to be rocket science, just rigorous. Start with the category. How is it performing right now; what is driving it; what formats compete in it and what are the trends affecting it.

The customers – how does the customer base segment, what are their needs and wants and what is their current behaviour. Try developing a simple segmentation by singling out two attributes like price sensitivity and category engagement. Make these two attributes the axis’ of a four quadrant chart onto which you place some simple segments and flesh out how they are shopping; who they are shopping; what they are shopping; and what is driving them.

The competitors – who are they; what business model are they running; what are their strengths and weaknesses; how are they performing; who shops them; and why do they shop them.

The company (your business) – what is your model; how does your business flow (end to end); what are your strengths and weaknesses; who shops you and why; what are your resources; how are you performing; where might your biggest challenges and threats come from; and where are your greatest opportunities.

Now you have a context to think through your plans.

One of the most important elements to this is to really understand your strengths within this context. As any great coach will tell you, always play to your strengths. Think through – in terms of the context you’ve established – how you might exploit your business strengths for commercial gain.

This will be the key to your success. Finding the thing that makes you better and different to your competitors within the context that you compete.

I call it knowing your place. And when you unlock it and exploit it there is a big, bountiful world of opportunity out there for you.