Retail Minded

Do you read any blogs that discuss the business of retailing? I’m looking for more good ones if you’d care to share. I have a few I read periodically, not nearly often enough. My first pick is Retail Minded, she even had a post up about Fashion-Incubator but I can’t find it now. Maybe she took it down after that tweet I sent her saying her blog was so good I didn’t want to tell anyone about it. I was kidding! My mouth buys me more trouble. Anyway, Nicole’s site is broken down into categories such as Customer Service, Inventory, Marketing, Pricing etc. The only downside is one element of site navigation. You click on a category and it feeds you one (full) entry and you have to scroll all the way to the bottom to click through to the next page and repeat. She says she’s in the process of redesigning the site. Now that she has more content, you might find the archives page easier to scan for items of interest. Here’s a few must reads:
What’s in a Buyer’s Packet?
Pitching Retailers – What Retailers Want From You
Wrong Product, Wrong Time, Wrong Market
Do Designers Need “Look Books”?
Retail Terminology

Another site I found after listening to a story on NPR called Level of Consumerism is Out of Control, is Retail Anarchy. I suppose you could call Sam Pocker, Paco Underhill’s acerbic and somewhat resentful little brother. The entries impart lessons quickly with humor, photos and short text.

Speaking of Paco Underhill, he still doesn’t have a blog. Too busy I imagine. He is author of two books I consider to be mandatory reading for DEs, Why We Buy (new edition) and Call of the Mall, both inexpensive. You may also consider reading books he recommends. I haven’t read any of them. See Gladwell’s cheat sheet on Paco if you want the Cliff Notes version. Note to Gladwell: white space is good.

Speaking for the last time about Paco Underhill (promise), KIZER and BENDER’s Retail Adventures in the REAL World™ BLOG (seriously, that ™ is in there) similarly describe themselves as retail anthropologists. Yep, they do. Just for kicks, I looked up Retail Anthropology to see if there was any kind of coursework. Not yet. Anyway, once you get past the somewhat overt commercial bent of this site, there’s some great content, rather generous in fact. One sample must read is Straight Talk about Diversity & Demographics: What works for one generation is Kryptonite to another.The downside of the site is the platform (Blogger) which doesn’t lend itself to facilitated navigation. I suppose in retail parlance, it’d be like opening a high end boutique in a seedy strip mall tenanted by resale and auto parts stores. Seriously, I wanted to find some more selections because the content is really good but it’s buried. I should send them to my site designer. Poke around.

Speaking of my site designer, I found him via Eric Busboom, owner of Retailing Together. As I understand it, Eric is passionate about independent retailers developing online store fronts. If you have a web presence, his site slices matters of particular interest to apparel sellers. In Gallery of E-Commerce Design Excellence, he highlights a site service called ecommr (that is definitely worth a trip!). Stop in and say hi to Eric; he’s also a member of our forum.

Next is No Turn on Red, which since I just found it (via Eric’s site), can’t say anything about is except it appears to be a must destination for online retailers. He analyzes various site designs for navigation, focus and promotion. This could be a good resource to analyze your web retail presence.

An all grown up site for heavy hitters in apparel retail collaboration is VCF. Not a blog, content heavy, with lots of business speak if you’re into that. Here’s a sample:

Welcome to the leading collaborative retail organization facilitating profitable relationships between retailers and suppliers. VCF, in association with Trade Promotion Management Associates (TPMA), is an advocate for retail-supplier trading synchronization and champions initiatives to increase strategic industry-wide productivity, profitability and growth. While still possessing the core values of its large membership, VCF marks a transition to serve more touch points in perfecting retailer-supplier execution to shorten cycle times and drive overall velocity in the supply chain.

I’m not sure how to find content, I’ve found good stuff here before, maybe they archive it into a members only section. The EDI shipping checklist in the side bar (can’t link, javascript) should give you a good idea of their mission.

I suspect the aptly named Retail Blog Marketing has excellent content but the right sidebar just kills me. It is FLUORESCENT RED and I can’t read the entry titles comfortably (I’d settle for not painfully) to point anything out. Hopefully someone who’s color blind can help me out here.

Last of all is this very humble simply designed site, Manufacturers Credit Cooperative. I think Corky’s Coats told me about it. He heartily recommends their service (inside information on which stores pay on time etc). On the left are some links to various categories with some (again) great content. For example, this entry on fraud is a 39 point checklist you can use to avoid selling to a customer who has less than ethical intentions.

This is all I have, if you have other retail related sites you like, kindly let us know.

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8 comments

  1. Leslie Hanes says:

    Thanks K, I desperately need to read more of these and it’s great that you are vetting them so we can pick the best, first. Or at least read a couple before we retire. Anyhoo, I’m reading How to Win at the Retail Game, (I didn’t even know I was in a game) which was provided gratis, from my banker. Guess he hopes I do well. I don’t owe him any money right now, but he’s really hoping I will. I hope I will too…at least that business will get so overwhelming that I can’t self-finance. Right now, I’m just “whelmed”.
    When I’m ready to retire, I’ll probably write the book on what not to do. I tend to be too trusting, and often treat the business like it’s still home-based. Although I’m way past that, I still get away with it a lot, but sometimes my practices come back to bite me…so I’m open to ideas from people who have been there, done that.

    Leslie

  2. kathleen says:

    Leslie, I looked that book up (The Retail Game: Playing to Win) and couldn’t find a single review. I’m intrigued for two reasons. First, your banker recommended it. Second, it’s written specifically for Canadians who are coming in “behind” their larger southern neighbor. Iow, it could have meaning for people who are facing similarly challenging retail environments. I hope you’ll keep me updated on what you think of it.

  3. Claudine says:

    Thanks for these links. I read the Gladwell article years ago, was fascinated by it, then promptly forgot all about it. Today, I got to be fascinated anew.

  4. Lauren Nicole says:

    I have been following Retail Minded for a couple months now and love it! Glad to see you like it, too. Will check out the other links you shared. Thanks!

  5. dosfashionistas says:

    Just what I need!! Thank you multiple and many times over. You are the greatest source of information around, Kathleen. If I do succeed at growing my etail business, especially with stuff I manufacture myself, it will be in no small part thanks to you and your good information.

  6. Ted Hurlbut says:

    Kathleen, I’d like to ask you to take a look at my blog, Retail Perspectives, at http://www.hurlbutassociates.com/blog. I’m a retail consultant who both blogs and writes full articles on the business of retail management, with a particular emphasis on issues affecting small to mid-sized retailers of all sorts. I’d welcome your feedback!

  7. David Sorg says:

    For Kathleen and others who use Firefox for your browser: you can make websites like the above mentioned Retail Blog Marketing much more palatable by going to Tools/Options/Content/Fonts and Colors and hitting the Colors button. There you are given choices for colors for rendering web pages. There is a checkbox there for allowing a website to choose its own colors. Normally one might keep that checked to enjoy the designer’s color choices. But I personally will not spend much time with a site that uses black or very dark for a background and white or bright for type, so will un-check the box to have the site display as my default choices of black on white.

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