Chamber hears ‘13 Ways to kill commerce’

U of A’s Heather Thomson dispels small business myths

Leduc/Wetaskiwin Chamber of Commerce members received some interesting and at time counter-intuitive advice on how to make small business prosper Sept. 13 at the annual “Meet in the Millet” luncheon.

The guest speaker was Heather Thomson, University of Alberta School of Business executive director of Retail, gave her presentation “13 Ways to kill commerce.” She noted the presentation was developed with the help of former MLA and author Doug Griffiths, who wrote “13 Ways to kill your community.”

Thomson said she’s spent time working in a large retail company, plus working at the U of A now she looks at trends and data in the world of retail.

13 Ways to kill commerce

Step 1: Do not invest in physical infrastructure. Thomson pointed out the reality is, retail is growing.

Step 2: Use best practices. She pointed out using best practices may cause tunnel vision; don’t just stick to the same old thing all the time.

Step 3: Focus on your customers. The problem here is by focusing on one thing, you ignore, for example, your staff. Thomson said this is a very overlooked problem; make sure your employees are happy and engaged.

Step 4: Expand your selection. It’s actually better to be specialized and a destination.

Step 5: Be Aspirational. This doesn’t work; these companies have failed miserably. Be inspirational instead.

Step 6: Ignore the trends. You want to know what your customers want before they do.

Step 7: Meet expectations. Rather than this goal, tell yourself you’re going to exceed expectations.

Step 8: Maintain the 80:20 Rule. Thomson said age-old rules about retail ratio on Main Street don’t necessarily apply. Instead, talk about things you can’t get online.

Step 9: Focus on the bottom line. Make sure you know what the life cycle of your product is.

Step 10: Cater to who has the most money. Rather, the business owner should cater to who spends the most money. Millennials tend to spend more than Baby Boomers.

Step 11: Stick with what works. Know your data and metrics and make sure you know what is actually working.

Step 12: Be consistent. Instead of offering the same thing, instead be inspiring, unique, inviting and be an individual.

Step 13: Expect people to shop local. The onus instead should be on the business community to give shoppers a reason or reasons to shop in the local community.

Thomson closed by noting retail businesses are growing as the novelty of online shopping appears to finally be wearing off.

Plus, she said local businesses can offer something online vendors can’t: stellar customer service.

“Customer service is literally your golden ticket,” she added.

Stu.salkeld@pipestoneflyer.ca

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