The Day Manufacturers Killed Retail

The Day Manufacturers Killed Retail

We’ve dealt with them all.  Some manufacturers are willing to work well with retailers and some are not.  Everyone wants a piece of the business pie and manufacturers are at the top of that heap.  Are they killing business for retailers?  I believe they are.  Here are a few reasons why product manufacturers are killing retail businesses one by one.

Sell On Their Own Sites/Stores – Business is about percentages and retail focuses on profit margins.  A common question is what are your sales and what are your margins?  Since the entire retail industry is based on margins, manufacturers want the best possible margins they can get.  How can they get great margins?  By selling their products themselves on their own site or at their own brick and mortar stores.  Let’s say I’m interested in purchasing some t-shirts from Acme T-Shirt Co.  The t-shirts have a list price or MSRP of $20 each.  If the manufacturer is selling to you at keystone pricing level (MSRP divided by 2), you would pay $10 for each t-shirt.  That means you can sell that t-shirt for $20 or whatever price you would like providing they don’t have rules or MAP pricing (see my next reason “Extreme Rules For Retailers” below for a better explanation).  The very big downside is there is a very strong chance that manufacturer is selling that same t-shirt on their website.  Since they manufactured the product and they are selling at MSRP prices, their margins went from 50% to 75%, possibly higher depending on how low they can get their cost down.  What this means is they have far more play in margin than you do in terms of the price they want to sell at.  Most likely they are selling those same t-shirts at MSRP, however, if they wanted to clear the product out and include on a sale, they can mark the product down 25-30% and still have great margins.  What does that mean to you?  It’s no fun, I’ll tell you as I’ve experienced this many many times before.  You buy a bunch of t-shirts and wonder why your stock isn’t moving.  After some investigating, you realize the manufacturer is selling the same t-shirts for a 40% sale and still making money in the process.  You would not be making a profit if you marked down those same shirts at 40% off.  How can you compete?  You can be creative to combat this or many times the manufacturer will sell out of a product and will have the advantage if you still have that product available.  Manufacturers that sell on their own websites or have their own brick and mortar stores are a big reason why they are killing off retailers one by one.

Extreme Rules For Retailers – MAP pricing is a killer.  I call it the “Apple Syndrome”.  MAP stands for Minimum Advertised Price.  This has been argued by many for many years.  A retailer should be able to sell the item at any price they want, right?  Not so fast.  When you create an account with a manufacturer to buy and sell their goods, they include contracts, and many of those contracts will have a MAP policy.  The only way they will do business with you is if you abide by their contract and agree to sell at MAP prices.  How strict are they to enforce this policy?  Most are very strict.  Where does this apply, online or in-store?  My experiences with manufacturers is their concern for online selling.  They want their prices to be the same across the entire internet for any retailer that is registered by them to sell their products online and you will have signed a contract and policy agreement before they allow you to sell their products.  You have to abide their rules or they simply won’t give you an account.  What if you agree to their policies but decide later that you will sell at any price you feel is necessary?  Wrong again.  Many of the bigger companies have people or software that scours the internet to make sure every authorized retailer is selling at MAP prices.  If not, they will notify you quick.  What about brick and mortar stores?  I have not had an issue with manufacturers monitoring prices at which we sell our products at.  Their main concern is online.  This is where brick and mortar stores win!  Why do I call this the “Apple Syndrome”?  Around the time the first iPhone was launched, Apple sold their products themselves.  They sold them in their stores or on their own website.  They felt they wanted to control everything they were doing including their prices.  When the iPhone took off, Apple decided to open it up to more retailers other than themselves.  They carefully chose electronic and computer stores and allowed them to sell as long as they abided by their rules.  Apple would not and still does not budge much from their list prices.  They believe any dip in product pricing is compromising their brand integrity.  I say, make a great product, the best you can possibly make and that is your brand’s integrity.  The price will hold strongly if you make a great product.  Just another reason manufacturers are killing retailers one by one.

Make You Pay In 30 Days – My job as a retailer was to move product and to move it fast.  The longer a product sat on the shelf, the more dead cash sits there.  You need to move that product out the door and turn it into cash.  When you place a stock order with a manufacturer, you are given (2) choices to pay.  They will offer you to pay in full with a credit card or they can put your account on “terms”, which means they will ship the merchandise to you and you pay them in full at a later date.  That date is usually 30 days.  So, that means you have 30 days to pay that invoice in full.  To me, that means I have 30 days to sell all the products from that order, turn a profit and pay off that invoice.  I’m not going to say, “sounds easy?”, simply because it’s not and most people will agree whether they’ve had retail experience or not.  If you go with terms, you can negotiate a better payment term such as 60 days or 90 days.  This helps and you can pay the balance little by little by check until you’ve paid off the balance entirely.  The other route is to pay by credit card.  This is extremely tough.  Why?  For a number of reasons.  Paying by credit card is the same as paying with terms, however, at the end of the credit card’s billing cycle, you will need to pay the balance in full or the credit card/bank will charge you interest.  This is how it can get very messy.  If you aren’t able to come up with paying off the entire balance, you will accrue a bigger balance which will make it even harder to pay off entirely.  Some retail buyers are enticed by reward points as most credit card companies/banks offer credit cards with some sort of reward point offerings.  I would refrain as much as possible from using credit cards to purchase your inventory unless you are way cash positive.  The best way, if you can, is to negotiate the longest term service you can with the manufacturer and make smaller payments every week or every other week to pay off your balance.  Most manufacturers won’t penalize you if not paid in full by the end of the term length.  Most are just happy to be paid in full!  Another painful knock to retailers killing them off one by one.

What I do not understand is why a manufacturer would want to kill off retailers.  Retailers are their biggest fan.  They know the product well and usually help in advertising those brands in their stores and on their sites proudly displaying signs and banners, etc.  It’s FREE advertising for those manufacturers!  Why would you want to kill that?

Your Quick Guide To Retail

Your Quick Guide To Retail

Some may consider the retail industry to be the toughest.  Tons of competition all vying for the sellers attention.  How do you win?  How do you survive?  Many factors are involved for a winning retail business.  If you’ve heard of the term “spinning plates”, all the “plates” need to be up and spinning simultaneously to accomplish a successful retail store.  Let’s look at several “plates” or “aspects” to retail.

Genre – A very important aspect to retail is genre.  Which genre are you getting into, sports, fashion, casual, footwear, accessories, etc.?  Once you’ve pinned down your genre, take a look at your competition within that genre.  What is the competition doing?  Who closely resembles your brand within your genre?  How geographically close is that competition?  These are all questions you are going to need to answer and be able to answer them well.  You will need to dissect and research your genre inside and out.  Do some reconnaissance work.  Visit those closely-resembled stores and take in everything they are doing.  How organized does the store look?  What kind of cash register system are they using?  Which brands do they carry?  Talk to the store employees.  See how knowledgable they are about the products they sell.

Knowledge – Another aspect to any retail store that is often overlooked is product knowledge.  I’m the type of person that will research a product to death prior to purchasing, specifically with a value of $50 or more.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into an electronics store knowing more about that product than the salesperson.  A shopper will be impressed that you know about the products you sell and will feel much more comfortable purchasing from your store than anywhere else.  There are shoppers who appreciate your wealth of product knowledge and will reward you for it.  I’ve received many compliments from shoppers that were grateful we were able to answer any questions accurately.  This is where you can win!

Product – We all know the basic idea of retail, you buy a product at a certain price, then sell at a higher price.  Sourcing your product is one of the most aspects of your business.  Typically, the best source to purchase your products from is the manufacturer.  Purchasing directly from the manufacturer will give you the best price.  Whether you are purchasing a low volume or high, always ask for discounts.  Every manufacturer wants to sell and simply by asking, they can give you discounts.  This can save you thousands of dollars a year.  I live by this motto in just about every facet of my life, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”.  For very high volume retailers, by getting discounts on the products they sell, they can save up to millions of dollars per year.  That’s an incredible savings.  Simply done by asking.  Most manufacturers charge shipping for the goods they sell to you.  By asking for a discount, the money you save would be like getting your product shipped for free.  I can’t emphasize enough the importance of discounts when purchasing your products.  Always ask and don’t settle for no!

Inventory – Inventory is a crucial aspect of any retail biz.  How much inventory you have, what kind of inventory, and how often you order product is another crucial aspect to focus on.  The idea of retail is to have that product in your store for as little time as possible.  Order it, receive it, put it on the shelf, then sell the item.  This sequence of events is referred to as “cashflow”.  Keeping the cash flowing from start to finish is super important to keep your financials in check.  Of course you’ll need to make a profit on the item that you are selling in order to stay in business.  Some retail stores will actually offer a product at or below cost just to attract shoppers in hopes they will purchase other products, as well.  Beware of dead stock!  The last thing any retail store needs is “dead stock”.  This simply refers to any products that don’t sell well.  It’s almost impossible to avoid.  You place your stock orders with the manufacturers and you think you have selected great products to sell.  However, you learn that some products don’t sell as quick as others or simply don’t sell at all.  Every retail store experiences this.  Some are going to sell well and some are not.  Recognizing this and being active on the issue is how you fix it.  Leaving stock on the shelves unsold is money sitting there.  That stock needs to move and turn into money.  As I’ve mentioned above, it’s impossible to hit a home run with every product you stock.  If you have the ability to pick winners every single time, please move to Las Vegas for a gambling career or allow our store to hire you!

Financials – An easy-to-overlook aspect is the financials.  If you do not like to have a close relationship with your business financials and your business can afford it, please hire a professional that can.  I absolutely cannot stress enough the importance of knowing your financials.  The world is more entrepreneur-like more than ever.  Popular tv shows like “Shark Tank” or “The Profit” question business owners about their financials and some do not know their numbers!  What is your sales on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis?  What is your net profit on those sales?  How much does it cost to operate on a monthly basis?  Since most expenses or bills are based on monthly payments, it is important to know what your operating costs are.  Operating costs include:  rent, insurance, phone, internet, garbage (dumpster), electric, gas, payroll, etc.  Deducting your monthly gross sales from your expenses and operating expenses will reveal your net profit.  The object is to keep your net profit positive and work toward a “working capital” status.  Working capital refers to profit after all of your expenses and operating expenses have been deducted from your gross sales.  This profit can work back into the business.  It’s difficult to maintain a working capital status.

Make no mistakes about it, retail can be a tough business.  However, if you put in the time, and apply all of the aspects mentioned above, you’ve got a great shot at creating and maintaining a successful retail store!

 

 

 

Which Marketplace Is Better To Sell On, Ebay or Amazon?

Which Marketplace Is Better To Sell On, Ebay or Amazon?

There really are only (2) online marketplace giants that have built their marketplace so big, hardly anyone else can come close or touch them.  If you are selling your products online, it’s hard not to look at both of these marketplaces as a sales channel.  They both attract the most amount of targeted traffic and will save you enormous amounts of money in advertising.  You set up your store in either marketplace and the traffic will come to you.  If you open a web store or online store away from both Ebay & Amazon, potentially you will spend thousands of dollars directing traffic to your store with no guarantee in converted results.  One of the many pluses in selling on both Ebay & Amazon is the traffic comes to you.  No need to spend money advertising on search engines with no guaranteed results.  It’s like opening a store with similar stores very close by.  In addition, you’ll be showcasing your brand identity.  Provide great customer service and quick easy shipping and buyers will remember you.  This will help continue to build your brand of retailing.  If you are a big retailer, most likely, you will need to sell on one of these big giants. Which one?  I’ve broken down the Pros and Cons for each marketplace.  From there, you can decide which one may be best for you.

Ebay:

Ebay has been around since 1995.  Buyers who shop on Ebay are very loyal and may choose no other online marketplace to shop.  Listing products on Ebay is fairly easy.   There are many tools to help, most of which are free.  Sellers can offer returns or not.  If they offer returns, they can choose 14, 30, or 60 days.  You can also opt in to their automatic returns policy.  Which means, if a buyer chooses to return an item, Ebay will handle the transaction once the buyer has initiated a return request.  From there, you simply mark the return as “Accepted” when the item has been returned back to you.  Ebay is fair to their sellers when and if any problems arise between you and the seller.  Just make sure you follow their guidelines and protect yourself should any disputes come about.  Just do a good job filling orders, answer  questions promptly and you shouldn’t have any issues. Unlike Amazon, Ebay does not sell products.  They rely solely on sellers.  I believe this benefits Ebay sellers tremendously as their competition is simply other Ebay sellers. One downside, however, people shopping on Ebay are looking for bargains.  If you’re in a competitive market, you’ll need to price your products aggressively or you won’t accrue much sales.

Pros

  • Can earn 10% off final value fees
  • Paid quickly
  • Easy to list and many 3rd party listing tools available
  • Fees are less than AMZN
  • Expect higher total sales

Cons

  • Buyers could be relentless with issues
  • Margins for sales won’t be as good as you’ll need to list prices lower
  • Invoiced at the end of every month
  • Costs $$ to list each product

 

Amazon:

Probably isn’t a person on the planet that hasn’t heard of Amazon.  Amazon’s marketplace is almost impossible to ignore.  With a Pro Merchant account ($39.99/mo), you can list as many products as you want.  Amazon makes it fairly easy to list products as most products are already built into their database.  You simply match up the product’s ASIN number with the product that matches yours.  You will need to be careful, however, as the pre-built product must match yours exactly or buyers will expect a product potentially different from yours.  I’ve found that although sales were much lower than Ebay, your profit margin will be higher selling on Amazon as buyer’s trust shopping on Amazon more than Ebay.  In turn, you can command a higher asking price than selling on EB.  Keep in mind, though, that Amazon is also a seller.  If they sell the exact same item you are selling, it will be tough to beat them in many facets.  A very disappointing feature of Amazon is that it allows sellers to use third party tools that will automatically adjust their prices based on the market offering.  If you decide to lower your price by $.50, a seller using an auto-repricing tool may have his price automatically lowered below your price (set by that seller), only to have beaten you in price.  The fact that Amazon sells too (Ships from and Sold by Amazon) and allows third party tools for sellers to auto-reprice is the reason why sales will be lower as compared to Ebay.

Pros

  • Margins will be higher
  • All fees are taken out immediately, no need to pay Amazon at end of month
  • Free to list products (with Pro Merchant account)
  • Easy to list products
  • Messaging between you and buyer very easy

Cons

  • Pays out every 2 weeks
  • Favors buyers tremendously
  • Returns aren’t as easy to handle
  • Amazon is also a seller that will be competing with you
  • Allows sellers to use auto-repricing

 

If you are selling on any of these sites (Amazon, Ebay, Shopify, BigCommerce), you will need this profit reporting software.

SalesChannelReports.com

Looking For A Retail Location Location Location?

Looking For A Retail Location Location Location?

You’ve taken the plunge.  You’ve decided to open a retail store selling products you love and know a great deal about.  Whether you’ve already run an online store and are complimenting your brand by adding a brick and mortar store or you want to open brick and mortar store followed by opening an online store.  Either way, both are important to your brand.

A retail location is just as important as an online presence.  Why?  See my other article on the importance of brick and mortar retail locations.  A retail location is necessary to bring brand awareness to your location.  Choosing your location is the most important aspect of your retail store.  Chances are you will be leasing the retail space and may be locked into a multi-year deal.

Geographic Location

What is your genre?  What do you sell?  It is extremely important to choose a location that will help your sales based on the products you sell.  For example, if you’re opening a surf shop, you may not want to open your store in colder climates.  A surf-type shop is seasonal in those cold climates which means you would only generate sales for a few months out of the year.  Your surf shop should be in California, Florida, Hawaii, etc.  So, choose a geographic location where you know you will generate sales 12 months a year.

Traffic

The next important aspect in selecting a great location is traffic.  You’ll need to choose a store location where there is a lot of traffic.  Traffic comes from all different methods.  Whether it’s people driving by or wandering in because they were in a near-by store.  The most important traffic is targeted traffic.  The more targeted traffic you can get, the better.  If your retail store sells women’s clothing, you wouldn’t want your store next to an auto parts store.  Most women are not going in and out of an auto parts store which could drive that traffic to your store.  However, moving next to a boutique would definitely help drive traffic to you.  This is what I call spill-over traffic.  Spill-over traffic is very good and you will get plenty of it when close to a store that will compliment your offerings.

Competition

Competition is huge in nearly every market.  There’s just too many people in the world to think you are the only person selling the same type of products as you are.  When I say competition, we are talking another store that sells the same products or the same type of products that you are selling.  When selecting your retail location, you don’t want your competition next door.  You’re going to need to do some research, or as I like to call it, reconnaissance (recon) work.  Find out who your competition is and how close or far they would be to your potential store location.  Most shoppers stay within a 10 mile radius to their homes, so stick with a 10 mile distance from the nearest competitor.

So, let’s recap.  When searching for that perfect retail store location, make sure you pick a geographic location that is suitable for selling 12 months of the year, make sure you choose a location where there is plenty of targeted high quality traffic, and make sure your competition is at least 10 miles away.  Follow those 3 rules and you’ve got your perfect store location!

 

If you are selling on any of these sites (Amazon, Ebay, Shopify, BigCommerce), you will need this profit reporting software.

SalesChannelReports.com

How Do Retailers Beat Amazon? 5 Tips To Help!

How Do Retailers Beat Amazon? 5 Tips To Help!

So there you are, you’ve had your retail shop for many years and you’re reading and hearing reports of major retail chains in trouble, closing store locations down that once stood for decades.  You hear everyone talking about Amazon.com.  They’re in the media at almost every turn.  They sell just about everything and their prices are hard to beat.  For an annual fee, they offer free 2-Day shipping on almost every order.  They even manufacture and sell their own goods.  A multi-billion dollar company with enough cash to turn your lights out in a flash.  Should you be worried?  Does this threaten your business?  Possibly?  Maybe?

The question in every retailer’s mind is “How Do I Beat Them?”.  I’ve created 5 tips to help you beat the online giant.

  1.  Sell Products They Don’t Sell – Believe it or not, there are manufacturers out there that give up the greed for their retailers.  Retailers are like an army that support the brands they sell like no other.  It’s free advertising for a manufacturer if a retail store is pushing their products.  They are the cheerleaders for the products that strengthen their brand.  It’s like having your own personal “Street Team”.  As a gratitude, manufacturers won’t sell their products on Amazon, leaving the retailer to sell them in their stores. Selling products that are not sold on Amazon is a sure way to grab marketshare.
  2. Manufacture Your Own Products – It may not be the easiest route, however, manufacturing your own products and being in full control of your own brand, could be the most rewarding.  Designing and creating your own product allows you full control over how you sell your product and to whom you sell it to.  Manufacturers have tough policies for retailers to follow, but, being in control of your brand’s policies is priceless.  Key is, manufacturer a product so great, Amazon will be begging you to sell it on their site.  From there, you’re golden.  High margins + high sales = killer key to success!
  3. Give Personalized Customer Service – Give the best possible customer service your customers could ever receive.  Be personable and include your customer service phone number on everything you can.  Shoppers always like to see a phone number available just in case.  They feel much more comfortable shopping in a store where they know they can call should they have any questions or if anything should go wrong.  What is Amazon’s customer phone number?  Exactly, they don’t want you contacting them.  There are plenty of shoppers that use the phone to ask questions.  Be unique and have your phone number ready and available.
  4. Open Your Own Retail Shop – Amazon does not have any brick and mortar locations.  Plenty of shoppers like to shop at physical locations.  This helps tremendously if you sell apparel.  Shoppers don’t like going through the hassle of shipping goods back they can’t use or that don’t fit properly.  They prefer to shop in-person.  After all, stock images on a website still don’t do a product justice.  Seeing with your naked eye and having the capability of touching a product is still the best way to shop.  Make sure you do all the necessary research when choosing a location for your retail store.  The old cliche “Location, location, location” absolutely applies.  You’ll need a solid location to get the foot traffic you expect and deserve, so, treat this as the number one most important factor when choosing your retail location.
  5. Reward Repeat Customers – Rewarding your loyal customers should be a staple in your retail business brand.  Aside from providing hands-on stellar customer service, shoppers absolutely love perks and rewards they can receive of any kind.  Offer discounts off their next purchase or give them free stuff if you can.  Many manufacturers will send promotional items to give away to your customers.  Giving your customers these promotional items will make your loyal shoppers happy.  They certainly are not getting freebies from Amazon.  Rewarding your repeat customers every time they shop is a sure way to build a solid repeat customer base!

If you are selling on any of these sites (Amazon, Ebay, Shopify, BigCommerce), you will need this profit reporting software.
SalesChannelReports.com

 

Should I Sell On Multiple Sales Channels?

Should I Sell On Multiple Sales Channels?

So, you own a retail business and you sell online.  You have your own website and sell all of your products there for all to see.  You’ve spent many hours making sure people know your site and what you sell.  You’ve also spent a few dollars, perhaps, many dollars advertising your site online with Google AdWords, Yahoo Advertising, Bing Ads, and the list goes on.  What you really want is to sell exclusively at your site.  However, with all of the hard work that you’ve put in and the dollars spent advertising, you aren’t seeing the results you thought existed.  After all, you had complete faith in the famous line from the classic movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come”.  Well, the internet is full of online sites and stores just like yours.  The competition is fierce.  How do you get noticed?  How do you stand out from the rest? Well, you can use the aforementioned advertising examples such as Google AdWords, Yahoo, etc., but, you’ll need to be very careful on how you spend your advertising dollars.  Pay-per-click advertising is costly and could cost a lot of money if not handled correctly.  After all, you want a return on your investment (ROI), don’t you?  If you spend $10 in advertising, you expect to make your $10 back and then some.  It doesn’t always work that way.  Most of the time, retailers will find themselves spending a lot more money on ads than what they are receiving in profit.  This will put you in bankruptcy very quickly, which is, obviously, not part of your plan.

One key strategy you’ll need to focus on is branding.  You’ll need to brand yourself in a way that will get you noticed.  Branding yourself is a way to get ahead of the competition.  You’ll need to get in front of your audience with a solid brand that people can trust.  A brand that is not just in one place.  You’ll need a brand that people believe is strong and has something very good going on.   A brand that is seen many different times in the marketplace.  How do we do this?  Selling on multiple sales channels.  You may be thinking, what, why, how?  Selling on multiple sales channels has many benefits.  Keeping your inventory fresh is a great plus and by selling on multiple sales channels, you will be able to turn inventory much quicker than if you were selling on only one channel.  Need another very good reason?  Cash flow.  Cash flow is one of the most important aspects to any business.  Money comes in, money goes out.  If money isn’t coming in regularly, you are definitely going to run into problems.  In most businesses, as fast as money comes in, money goes out.  Having solid cash flow in your business will help keep your business flowing regularly like a solid business should.  Some retailers don’t like the idea of most Sales Channels taking a fee when any item is sold.  No one likes fees, however, isn’t a sale better than no sale?  Again, cash flow and keeping your inventory fresh is the key.  Buyers will return more often if your inventory keeps changing.  Let’s do some quick math to show you how powerful selling on multiple sales channels can be.  Let’s say your site sells $10,000 worth of merchandise every month.  If you open up your inventory to other sales channels such as Ebay, Amazon, Etsy, etc., and you sell $5,000 on Ebay, $2,000 on Amazon, you’re combined sales are now $17,000.  Would you rather sell $10,000 for the month or $17,000?  If you’re like me, you’re going for the $17,000.

You may ask yourself, but, if I’m selling on Ebay or Amazon, I’m helping their brand, not mine.  Not exactly true!  Selling on Ebay or Amazon can strengthen your brand.  Millions of shopper are on Ebay and millions of shoppers are on Amazon.  You can include your store logo on either sales channel and get that logo in front of millions of shoppers, shoppers that are interested in your products.  That’s advertising for you that you can afford!

If you haven’t noticed already, plenty of large retail brands are selling their products on multiple sales channels.  They are completely aware of branding, cash flow, and keeping inventory fresh.  Selling on multiple sales channels is a definite must if you are playing in the retail industry.  You’ll thank me later!

What is the most important aspect of any business?

What is the most important aspect of any business?

e-commerce profit reportsWhat is the most important aspect of any business?  Profit! Knowing what your business is making on a daily basis is crucial.  Some business owners rely on accounting software such as Quickbooks to tell them what their profit is after all expenses have been accounted for.  That’s nice, however, when will you run that report, at the end of the month?  In 60 days when all relevant transactions have been entered and all banks and credit cards have been reconciled?  By that time, it could be too late.  You can’t afford to look at your profit reports 30 days later or possibly 60 or even 90 days later.  You need to know what your profit it is on a daily basis.  You are in complete control when you know your financial numbers.  You can make quick adjustments to your product pricing before it’s too late.  The only way to survive in the retail industry is to beat the competition and know your profit numbers.  Whether you have a retail store or you are the manufacturer, the retail industry is very tough.  Competition is everywhere.  Can you compete?  Yes!  How?  Having great customer service is always a great way to beat the competition.  The other is to know your profit and margins.  By knowing your margins, you’ll know which items you sell are winners and which are losers.  Keep the winners coming and get rid of the losers.  Beat the competition by knowing your profit margin numbers are the key to your retail success!