Keep It Simple Stupid.

The more turmoil around you, the more effort it takes to keep a level head and focus on what you can actually control. Let’s face it, there’s no shortage of so-called business and media ‘experts’ running around like ants at the first sign of raindrops.

There is almost no action being taken today in financial markets that has anything to do with sanity, sound judgment or fundamentals and nothing you can do to affect irrational behaviour. So, what can you do?

Pretty simple really. Just like your customers, if it isn’t directly affecting you right now ignore it. Get on with doing what you can do by focusing on your business. After all, retail is pretty straightforward. Buy, move, sell – and stay relevant to your stakeholders while you do it.

So in the current climate – bearing in mind customers are still spending more than last year – have you put any thought into what you are buying, how you are moving it, how you are selling it and how you are staying relevant to your customers?

There are many examples of retailers who are cutting prices with no volume gain and therefore creating self-inflicted sales and margin decline. Many of these moves are no more rational than what’s going on in financial markets. I mean are you really thinking about what is the right product for the times, how you will best source it and get it to market and how you will sell it in the current market mood.

Staying relevant to your stakeholders is incredibly important at all points of the economic cycle. Without relevance your success is limited and very hit and miss. But relevance is more critical in challenging times. If your product range falls into the “me too” basket you are in trouble. There will be too many competitors with the same range who will panic and drop prices and customers will hunt the lowest price on like for like. If your product is not relevant to the times you are in trouble. This is not a time shoppers are prepared to unthinkingly place irrelevant basket stuffers in the trolley.

The Aussie dollar is all over the place. How are your sourcing and moving your goods so that by the time they reach the selling environment their landed costs have not blown out? And are you selling with confidence, seduction and the dialed up hallmarks of value?

While employment holds-up and disposable household income growth continues, year on year sales will increase. But customers are thinking more rationally about their purchase behaviour. They’ll buy but we have to work harder to sell to them, to convince them that we have the products they want, need and can afford.

Now is the time to concentrate on what you can affect and to do it with confidence. After all, retail selling is a confidence game and when any of your stakeholders sniff fear you are on a hiding to nothing.

Buy. Move. Sell. Stay relevant, focus on what you can affect and above all, act with confidence.