By Gordon Hecht, Serta Simmons Bedding

It’s almost half-past 2021 and it’s business as unusual out there.

You, who are the survivors, have been on top of creative solutions to save and sustain your business. Sure, a few of us have made the mistake of holding on to short-sighted or outdated methods, but the last fifteen months have made us able to overcome any roadblocks that come our way.

Here are two winning retail practices from the first 160 days of 2021. We’ll then follow up on Wednesday with a trio of standard operating procedures that should be put out to pasture.

A Bird in Hand is Worth Two on Sale

Some retailers took the risky leap and ordered inventory during dark times. Others saw the trend last December and figured then that they had better load up. Not many stores have all their merchandise in stock, but almost all have some merchandise ready to go.

The big “A” in retailing today is availability. Having products ready to deliver is the winning edge, more than price, features, warranty, promotions, financing, or salespeople wearing a nice suit and shiny shoes (although I suggest you still insist on the last one). People are trading up to get a product today, and they are willing to compromise on color, size, style and price.

Promote whatever you have as “In Stock and On Sale” and you’ll appeal to the most important factors in your shopper’s path to purchase.

Note to the sales team: If you have merchandise in stock, there’s never a “fire sale”; no need to break price. The merchandise will be purchased, and soon. Your shopper simply has to decide whose house it will go to — theirs or the next shopper.

Buddy, Can You Spare a Bed?

Shoppers planning a major purchase should never wait until the last moment, but not a day goes by in our retail world when a shopper has an immediate need for our products. I was working a retail floor this past week and a shopper needed a full-size mattress, pronto! They had visitors coming that evening (and apparently did not want them to stay too many nights). They weren’t looking to go on the cheap; they just needed something there and now. I was unable to fulfill their need and they left without a purchase.

It wasn’t until the next day that a co-worker suggested that I should have offered a loaner — just something to help them get by.

Whether you sell mattresses, appliances or lawn equipment, with the supply issues we are all facing, it’d be a boon to your business to have a couple of loaners available. Mattress people have it easy; just require that a shopper purchase a mattress protector to qualify for a loaner. And since it’s only a short-term thing, a queen size will work in almost every situation.  

Next up: Three retail practices that are ready for retirement.

Gordon Hecht is Senior Regional Manager/Strategic Retail Group at Serta Simmons Bedding and a regular contributor to YSN. You can reach him at ghecht@sertasimmons.com.