Free Subscription

  • Access 15 free news articles each month


Try one month for $5
  • Unlimited access to news,insights and opinions
  • Quarterly and weekly magazines
  • Independent research reports and forecasts
  • Quarterly webinars with industry experts
  • Q&A with retail leaders
  • Career advice
  • Exclusive Masterclass access. Part of Retail Week 2021

The retail plunge from mediocrity

business, deal, people, meetingPeople are the soul and heartbeat of any business and no more so, than in retail. Yet we see an orchestrated stifling of human tenacity in many of a corporate quest for sameness.

This compulsion for conformity is nothing other than a guise by ambivalent support offices and ivory towers. A contrived manipulation of process and compliance with little regard or understanding of retail actuality. Sure, these tools have a part to play in delivering consistency that provides a familiarity the customer has come to expect.

Unfortunately haughty collectives pander to the lowest common denominator, the under performer, thus alienating and restricting the bold, intuitive and innovative. Fundamentals essential for auspicious retailing.

Number-crunchers wield percentages and ratios to influence the purse strings and monitor returns on investment. Unleashing audits to instil conformity irrespective of consequence while championing averages to secure objectives.

Administrators create a bureaucracy of procedure in a bid to cover the old proverbial and placate the “more-than-my-job’s-worth” brigade. Check sheets, surveys, peripheral meetings and tedious verification combined with an assiduous disregard for permutation.

Micro-managers enforce routine in a flawed belief of advancement and exploitation without consideration or consultation of those at the sharp end. Policing inflexible procedures with dubious emotional intelligence that suppress the human spirit.

Leave retailing to the retailer – people are their specialty. It is an industry about people, for people, by people.

Retail is unforgiving and lays bare our individual location on the spectrum of leadership, from the euphoria of the inspiring entrepreneur to the cataclysmic bluster of the inept people’s person.

61a7ceb7ff104b039fa8c9ec11d3cd37Is the focus on the customer?

Take the litmus test:

  • Set up two desk-trays or files. Mark one CUSTOMER the second OTHER.
  • Print and file daily copies of all communications and interactions.
  • Careful only to include that which adds value in the CUSTOMER folder.
  • Regularly compare perspectives with those closer to the end-user.

The only certainty is that there is no substitute for one-on-one interaction when it comes to true service. Often, little more than a nod or smile suffices.

Is the focus on the employee?

  • Employees are not a manipulative resource for increased profit, but a mutual investment yielding unequalled benefit.
  • Productivity distinguishes leadership from management. There is no greater force than an inspired team when personal and aggregated trust is employed.
  •  No two people are the same. Celebrate the difference and advocate the positive before indulging the moochers. Every outlet should embrace nuance and personality.
  • Listen to understand. Listen to act. Listen to reinforce.

Rather improve support networks to deliver on time, with the right product at the right price.

Then muster the courage to loosen the grip and revel in the magic of the trader.

Dave Farrell is a retailer with three decades of experience on three continents. He can be reached at

Access exclusive analysis, locked news and reports with Inside Retail Weekly. Subscribe today and get our premium print publication delivered to your door every week.

You have 7 free articles.