Whether for relocation or consolidation, or whatever the reason may be, stores close all the time. But far too many stores go about it in a way that can have negative, and lasting, effects overall. Overseeing and executing a store closing properly can be difficult, but it is vital to both brand image and customer loyalty that things are done right, right from the start. Here are some things to think about:
Managing timelines is crucial. Make sure that you get your inventory in order, think about a discounting plan, come up with solutions for liquidation (if necessary). Keep in mind your deadline for getting out of the building and make sure that racks are down and the store is clean on time. Store managers often underestimate the amount of work and time involved with store closings, so set a schedule and stick to it. Skill matters – if you are thinking about a temp agency, this is generally the worst choice, so make sure to do your research.
Managing inventory. Keeping the stores as well stocked as possible is essential – product won’t sell from the stockroom. Sales are a great incentive to see product movement. If the shelves are empty when customers come in looking for sale items, but those products are in the back, they may not ask for them and just forget the purchase altogether. Devise a plan for shipping inventory to other locations, and ensure that you have the manpower to see this task completed. The store should remain customer-friendly up until the last day, so ensure that procedures remain in place and followed.
Keep customers happy – the brand relies on this. The perception of the store/brand needs to remain high, so maintaining your image is important. Decreased inventory can negatively impact customer experience, so try to ensure that other aspects of the customer experience do not suffer as well.
Employee morale plays a big role in managing store closings. When employees stop caring, their performance levels decrease and providing high levels of service becomes a minor priority (if a priority at all). And then they start leaving. Having a contingency plan in place in key. Make sure to keep the communication levels at a high – make sure they know that the store is closing, but the company is not. If there are other stores in the area, try to get them transferred. Try to help them see the big picture.
If a store closing is in your future, think about the many different aspects that work to ensure the retention of a positive brand image. Manage your closing appropriately using these strategies.
For more about closing a retail location and how to avoid disaster, please contact Storesupport today by calling 1-877-421-5081 or visit www.storesupport.ca.