Retail Marketing I and II: Merchandising For Profitability

Every retailer can follow simple rules to sell more product explained “Retail Success” Author George Whalin in his two-part seminar on day two of the Snow Industry Summit.

A retail Marketing Consultant speaking on behalf of George Washington University, Whalin’s experience comes first hand. In the 1960′s he opened and managed the original Guitar Center on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, CA. He later went on to open Whalin’s Sound City with stores in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Speaking to a captive audience of retailers and manufacturers, Whalin stressed retail is all about having: “The right product at the right time at the right price.”

However, Whalin recognized the challenges associated with the timing and shortened sales cycle of the snow sports business. In the first section of his seminar Whalin urged retailers to learn to write real buying plans based on knowledge from inventory on hand, sales history, inventory budget, sale projections, supplier availability, supplier deals, upcoming store events, and monthly or quarterly analysis. “Retail is the most optimistic business in the world,” he laughed. “The best thing you can do as a retailer is examine all the pieces of the puzzle.”

Whalin also explained a profitable shop has a pricing strategy based on presentation, exclusivity, salesmanship, financing programs, and value builders. “People are going to believe in, and play full price for a product if you build in value,” he says. “Every business has value builders … techs, repair programs, and services you offer will all keep you from having to sell at the lowest price.”

In the second half of Whalin’s seminar he focused on tailoring the layout of a store to increase its sales. He stressed the importance of “plan-o-grams” or diagrams of a stores product positioning to maximize the amount of products customers are exposed to at one time. “Plan walls and floors with the way you sell and they way your customer’s buy,” he encourages. “Eye-level displays should hold products with the greatest margins.”

Using slides depicting ski and snowboard departments from stores in the industry, Whalin explained how to create a dynamic retail environment. In the end it came down to his ten tips to sell more products.
1. Create floor and wall plan-o-grams to get the most out of space
2. Constantly update and improve store layout
3. Get discounted products off the store quickly.
4. Buy smart—have a plan and be the customer’s advocate.
5. Improve inventory turnover to increase profit.
6. Make the best use of manufacturer signage and P.O.P.
7. Update and improve store decor regularly.
8. Create an inviting, unique, and memorable retail environment.
9. Pay attention to details.
10. Make it easy for your customer’s to see and buy everything that you have in stock.

While the information wasn’t something entirely new to most people in the audience it did have a resonating effect on some of the retailers. “I think that Whalin may have underestimated the retailers who made the trek to the Snow Industry Summit,” explained Wes Debow owner of The Boardgarden in Napa Valley, California. “But, that aside its nice to have some back up and reiteration of things that you’ve already implemented or considered.”

The TransWorld SNOW Industry Summit had gathered more than 300 executives from snowboard and ski manufacturers, retailers, and resorts to discuss issues facing the group. Produced by TransWorld SNOWboarding, with partners Mountain Sports Media and SIA, the SNOW Industry Summit was held April 1 to April 4, 2004.