Winning at Retail

BOOK REVIEW
WINNING AT RETAIL: Developing a Sustained Model for Retail Success

by Willard N. Ander and Neil Z. Stern

Ever heard of the Black Hole of Retailing? This is the place where losing retailers go to die. Willard N. Ander and Neil Z. Stern’s WINNING AT RETAIL: Developing a Sustained Model for Retail Success gives retailers who are currently in this category the hope that their death can be avoidable and positively change their business strategies while they still have time. This book provides solutions for falling sales and faltering retailers, and the thoughtful approach to retail differentiation. The authors offer strategies for retailers and chains suffering at the hands of decreased sales numbers. The book covers the customer service, customer/retail demographics, retail strategies and retail trends using case studies from such success stories as Costco, Toys “R”, and Walgreens, mc Donald’s, Starbucks and more. For retailers to survive, they must adapt to the new realities of the marketplace by employing the EST theory for retail success.

EST: A Compass to Avoid Retail’s Black Hole

The EST theory derives from the word BEST.  In the book, the authors explain that a retailer must be best at one proposition that’s important to a specific set of customers rather than attempting to be great at everything to everybody. EST retailers devote themselves with laser-like focus to their core proposition.  One of the best practices in the EST theory is Wal-Mart where everything it does focus on enhancing its position as the low price leader. This retailer wins customers on price.

The book also demostrates that retail can win the marketplace by being clearly best in the five critical areas:

  • BIG-Est: winning with assortment
    Toys “R” Us engages this position by creating stores that dominated in one single product category. In this grouping having more merchandise does not make a retailer Big-Est, rather it is having the right mix of merchandise or products that consumers want to buy not just more products to confuse the customer with.
  • Cheap-Est: winning with price
    Wal-Mart established right from the start that they stood for low prices and that price would be the criteria used for all store operations. Their slogans “Always Low Prices” and “Everyday Low price” positioning define every action that the company takes.
  • Hot-Est: winning with fashion
    Starbucks, Krispy Kreme and Zara know that this positioning transcends product boundaries. They carry the right style and fashion with the right target customer. Hot-Est is the opposite end from the Cheap-Est position and the margins can be high as the customer thinks of price last of all.
  • EASY-Est: winning with solution-oriented service
    Nordstrom demonstrates and differentiates its business by offering superior service in terms of making the shopping experience hassle-free and solving customer problems. Some retailers offer options, innovative ideas and product information to customers for making correct choices easy and trouble-free.
  • QUICK-Est: winning with speed-oriented service
    McDonald’s focus on speed and satisfy their customers’ desire for quick service.  They open multiple and convenient locations, offer easy access to parking, ensure efficient and quick checkout counters.  They know what the customer wants more than ever – they’re running short on time and are willing to forego the benefits of low price, good service or a large variety of products on offer.

The book put the EST to work by citing best practices of best retailers. How they work on the right mix of consumer trends, their competition, their internal strengths and by putting EST with winning ideas and enhancing customer experience.  The bottom of Winning at Retail is that it is essential to keep customers at the forefront of retailer’s decision making. Retailers should know the most valuable proposition for customers.

This book is a must for every retailer.

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