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Retailing in a Recession: Part Four

Retailing in a recession

Many retailers closed their doors during the last recession and lately, the economic outlook has been uncertain. Although we have steered clear of another recession to date, we want to give you the tools to succeed in the event there is one. In the final part of our series Retailing in a Recession, we cover how to tailor customer research and merchandise planning to your customer’s needs.

Customer Research Strategies for Retailers in a Recession

Customer research is as easy as asking your clients questions at check out. Below are four questions you should train your employees to ask.

  • Did you find what you need?
  • Did you ask for help finding it?
  • Is there somewhere else you’d expect to find the item?
  • Is there something you want that we don’t ever carry?

These questions help establish different data points including if current offerings are in stock, shows the customers you care, and improves your offerings to better meet their needs.

Merchandise Planning

Customer research can also help determine merchandise planning. In all economic climates, merchandise selling well should stay, and merchandise not selling well should go.

During a recession, retailers should take extra care to plan their merchandise offerings to align with customer needs and preferences. Can merchandise be fixed, rather than shrunk, if productivity is low but headroom is high? And what about merchandise that has high productivity but low headroom? Should it remain?

In summary, some retailers will turn an economic downturn to their advantage. Consider starting with a customer survey using a mix of open- and closed-ended questions to gather both qualitative and quantitative data on preferences.

Inspiration for this post comes from the Harvard Business Review’s Five Rules for Retailing in a Recession. Check out Rule 5: Retool Core Processes for more information on customer research.

If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to Creative Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Branding Ideas


Keeping up with branding is time consuming, but it can help you to get the work you want. Check out these ideas for a place on where to begin.

Research your favorite brands

Do you subscribe to newsletters that you love? This is a great place to start. Figure out what it is about them that you love and incorporate that into your material. Do they include a list of what they’re reading/watching/listening to right now? Include a section in your newsletter for your customers as well.

Also ask yourself what they do well. Is their information informative? Have good design? Help you find new products? Think about areas you can improve on, and areas you’re skilled at. Then align this list to both sides and see how your online engagement changes.

Look at other businesses’s branding

By other business’s we mean businesses you want to be or businesses want to work with. Check out their social media and replicate what they do with an original idea. By the time you do outreach to them, they’ll look at your work and think the same thing when you visited their page (“Wow! I want to do that!”)

This is also a good time to evaluate if you need to improve on what you know. If you discover you have to brush up on certain areas (video for instance), watch a tutorial or buy a book so you’ll have the knowledge in place when you try to expand your offerings.

If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.

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A Guide to Copywriting

A Guide to Copywriting

Copywriting may seem easy on a surface level, but the best copywriters spend hours trying to come up with the perfect line.

So what is copywriting? Copywriting is the art of writing copy (or the words that go on your website, products, advertisement, etc.) that make your services compelling and initiates your customers to take action.

Sales people reach customers one at a time, and a copywriter reaches them all at once. Although it may just seem like words on a paper, copywriting is a critical part of your business.

Understand your product or service

You should know your product or service inside and outside. If you don’t spend some time with it, researching it, using it, and whatever else you can do. This sets up the baseline and gives you the sales advantage; you should be the service expert so anytime someone asks you a question you know more about it than anyone else.

Create your product/service description

A good way to start this is to answer these questions:

  • What makes the product or service unique?
  • How would you describe the product or service?
  • What benefit does the product or service provide?
  • Is their pain the product or service alleviates?
  • What are the product or services features?

By knowing your product or service better than anyone else, answering these questions should come easy.

Know your customers

Knowing you customers, and what they want, can take some trial and error. One thing that will make this trial and error easier is through research. Here are some questions you should find the answer to:

  • Who currently buys your product or uses your service?
  • Who would you like to buy your product or use your service?
  • What does your typical customer look like?
  • What do they love?

Knowing your customer means you can cater your copy to make it more compelling. Remember, copywriting should be unique, specific, and convey urgency. The combination of these may not seem easy, but with a little work you can become persuasive in 20 words or less.

If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.