Retail in Asia

In Tech

Taking Stock: A business dies every 2 hours

It breaks my heart to go shopping sometimes. There’s the "going out of business" sale, the pride-saving "lost our lease" sale, and the cardboard headstone "space for rent". They are all a result of the same problem… not enough customers.

It’s nice when you can open a business and attract new customers the next day. It’s great when a website guarantees your profitability. But none of those things happen without good planning. Without a good plan, and the proper execution, businesses die very quickly.

Three simple rules for attracting new customers:

  1. Let people know you exist – Advertise and market yourself – don’t forget social media. If people don’t know where you are and what you do, they can’t buy from you. Advertising and marketing greatly increases your chances of success.
  2. Don’t scare the customer – Make the customer feel comfortable with your product, service or services. Provide an environment they will feel safe in. Make them feel good about spending their money. I walk by stores all the time that are open, but look very dark inside. That doesn’t make me feel like going inside. You can’t attract new customers if they are not comfortable with you.
  3. Look the part – If you were going to buy tools, you would expect a guy with a tool belt and a smock to help you out, right? After all, he looks like he knows what he’s talking about. What if you went to buy a power saw and a lady in a clown suit asked if she could help you? Exactly. Look the part and you can attract new customers without any problems.

You’d be surprised at how many people break these simple rules. I go exploring around my city and I find little out-of-the-way businesses that I would have never known about before. They are good businesses with absolutely no exposure. So when I go back a few months later to see them again, they are out of business. It’s very sad. They don’t go out of business because they are bad at business, it’s just that no one knew where they were so they never made enough money to stay open. You can’t attract customers who don’t know you exist.

Barbara Wold has more than 45 years of first-hand retail experience, and is one of the industry’s most sought-after speakers and consultants.

Taking Stock is Retail in Asia’s fortnightly column dedicated to showcasing opinions from experts in the retail industry.