Running a small business has many challenges and many rewards. With the competition of online businesses, consumers can easily compare products and prices without ever entering your store. So how do you compete in this climate and make your business stand out?
Our friend Nicole Leinbach Reyhle can help. She is the founder of Retail Minded Magazine – the only trade publication dedicated to the entire lifestyle of owning a small retail business. In addition, Nicole founded the Independent Retailer Conference. IRC is a “pop up conference” within a trade show which addresses the unique responsibilities of indie store owners. Some of the shows they partner with include ASD Market Week, the Craft and Hobby MEGA Show and the Halloween & Party Expo.
A Guide Book for Small Business Retailers
To assist retailers even further, last year Nicole released her book Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business which she co-wrote with Jason Prescott, CEO of TopTenWholesale.com and Manufacturer.com. This book gives you practical advice on how to compete with the big box stores, whether you’re new to retailing or a seasoned store owner. It’s available in hard copy or digital download on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
We were grateful for the opportunity to interview Nicole and pass along her vast retail knowledge to our Nashville Wraps community of independent retailers.
An Interview with Nicole Leinbach Reyhle
Tell us about your background, Nicole, and how you got involved with helping retailers.
Ever since I was a little girl (growing up in Chicago), I loved visiting stores and observing customer behavior. Ironically, my mother was a serious “shopper” who enjoyed strolling through malls, our local Main Street and any store she could discover along the way. However, I was more into the experience of it all versus the actual shopping. Somehow, I think this positioned me well to spend my entire professional career in the retail and wholesale business. My first retail job was with Nordstrom, then the years that followed my college graduation I worked with major retailers that included Sears, Marshall Fields, Macy’s, Adidas America and more. Most were my clients, as I ended up working on the wholesale side in the footwear industry for Franco Sarto Shoes as their Marketing Director. This role allowed me to work with both major retailers and smaller merchants – which I so much enjoyed. I also worked with the media in this role, which I also enjoyed. Eventually, I decided to start my own business to help support smaller merchants, which is how Retail Minded came to life. Since 2007, I’ve been lucky enough to do what I love…which is to help deliver news, education and support to independent businesses.
How is your magazine “Retail Minded” different and why retailers should subscribe?
Retail Minded is solely committed to the unique needs of smaller merchants. Unlike many other retail trade publications, our focus is centered on the operations of running a retail business versus the products you sell. While this is certainly a priority, we know there are many resources available for businesses to turn to for product recommendations, reviews, etc. However, there is limited support in helping merchants successfully operate their small businesses. Through Retail Minded Magazine, our online blog, our free Resource Guide and other tools we offer merchants throughout the year, we hope that smaller businesses won’t feel alone in their efforts to run their stores but instead feel as if they have a trusted resource to lean on.What is the Independent Retailer Conference and why retailers should attend?
The Independent Retailer Conference works with select trade shows across the country to deliver a dynamic learning experience on the show floors of some of the nation’s leading trade shows. We know merchants are busy and it’s often hard to get away from their stores, but attending trade shows is so important for their businesses – which is why we deliver the Independent Retailer Conference as part of a trade show experience. Experts from companies that include Constant Contact, Shopify, Woo Commerce, Lightspeed POS, Intuit Quickbooks and more join us to deliver educational sessions to attendees while also offering one-on-one support to retailers. The best part is this is free to attendees of each of our trade show partners. See IRC’s tradeshow schedule here.
How did your book “Retail 101” come about?
I’ve also had a passion for writing, and continue to work with many other retail publications in addition to producing my own – Retail Minded. With this in mind, I had worked with Jason Prescott – the CEO of TopTenWholesale.com – through some writing projects before, and Prescott had invited me to discuss the opportunity of working on Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Business after his own book, Wholesale 101, came out. It was a fantastic experience that I am grateful for, and I look forward to writing more books in the future, as well.
Share with our retailers some tips from the book?
Tip #1 – Data is gold. Be sure to lean on the data generated from your point of sale systems and other technology that you use in your store. It’s so valuable and can truly help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your business.
Tip #2 – Customer service needs to be strengthened. Running a store keeps you very busy, but the core reason your store stays alive are your customers. Too often, this gets dismissed and customer services takes the back seat. Make sure it remains a priority.
Tip #3 – Being online doesn’t necessarily mean selling online. Many merchants think they have to have an e-commerce site if they want to be online, but this is not always the case. Being online means being accessible in Google searches, social media and more. Your online presence is important – even if you don’t sell anything online.
Finally, what can retailers do now to ensure the most profitable holiday season this year?
A successful holiday begins now. Don’t wait to make your 4th quarter a success. Get your store holiday events on the calendar, and share the dates as “save the dates” to your customers. One event – or date – you can start with is Small Business Saturday – the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This is a fantastic kick off to the holiday season that your store, your customers and even your community can all get excited about. The key is to think ahead in all you plan to do for the 4th quarter. Store holiday decor, seasonal staff, inventory, extended hours and any other detail that will impact your success for the season should be planned now… to help avoid missed opportunities later. (See our Holiday Open House Tips.)
Thank you Nicole for taking time from your busy schedule to speak with us. We know our Nashville Wraps customers will benefit from your many great resources! Follow Nicole on Twitter here. See more Great Reads for Retailers on our Pinterest board.