Retail is constantly evolving and you should be tweaking and improving your shop floor and your website all the time.

However that does not mean you need to makes changes without thinking.

Before any change, you need to ask yourself:

  • why are we changing this?
  • what are we hoping to achieve?
  • how will we know it was the right decision?

Change for the sake of change is not clever business.

Customers are proud of what they build themselves. This goes for essentials such as a flat-packed bed or bookcase and is also true for non-essentials such as plastic model kits.

Having to put some effort to get a finished item adds to the perceived value for the person who built it.

You can benefit from this bias by offering items which have to be put together by the customer. Everytime they look at or use the item, they will value it more than if they had not build it themselves.

You can try to guess what customers want and to some extend you are going to be successful. However this will never be as good as asking customers for their opinion.

It is not because they do not buy something that they do not want it: they may simply buy in bulk elsewhere.

Do not be afraid to ask, you will be surprised as to what you will uncover.

If you sell on an online marketplace, it is very difficult to make your brand and your name recognised.

Most people when asked where they bough an item will say “I got this on eBay” but will not be able to say the vendor’s name.

If you are trying to build a reputation and grow your customer base, you need to find ways to bring your customers to your own website, to your own shop and deal with you direct.

Keith Richards famously said “I do not get paid for the two hours I spend on stage, I get paid for the other 22 hours”.

In the retail world it is the same: ringing up sales or getting the email from your online platform is the easy part. It is everything you do before and after that matters.


Word of mouth is probably the cheapest form of advertising: you simply let your customers do all the selling.

However in order for it to work you need to implicitly give a reason to your customers to talk about you.

The best reason you can give them is to exceed their expectations. Give them a reason to tell their friends about you: what can you do today that is worth talking about?

Customers are usually shy but sometimes they take the courage to ask whether you carry a certain item.

It may be tempting to act on those requests and quietly extend your ranges.

However you need to be careful and stay focused.

Is there a real demand for those items or was it just a random request?

The only question that matters:

Why should someone buy from you rather than from someone else?

Are you:

  • closer
  • faster
  • better
  • different
  • knowledgeable
  • cheaper
  • credible
  • reputable
  • convenient
  • extensive
  • specialised

Whatever the reason, you need to use it to sell more.