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There is no better way to address challenges in a retail business than to touch stock. Too often we encounter business owners and managers who are not hands on with stock. This reduces their understanding and often leads to bad business decisions.

We are often called in to help business turn around or at the very least understand what is wrong. Too often, management is out of touch and the first step we recommend is that they get in touch by touching stock. Seriously. By “touching stock” I mean, selecting a department and working it: putting new stock out; taking old stock off; cleaning the shelves; moving stock.

Every time people we’re working with follow this advice they come back to us with stories of what they have found. One of our clients yesterday told me that after toughing some of his stock for the first time in almost a year he realised that he was buying badly and that it really was time he started to use the technology we provided him to buy rather than his gut feel. His stock was aging dragging the business down.

We have found that business owners who touch their stock and work their businesses in a practical way, are more likely to use our technology better to understand the business’ strengths and weaknesses. Hence our focus on this interactivity as an important step.

I bought a newsagency in February 1996 for this reason. I wanted to touch my business more deeply by walking in the shoes of my clients. The impact has been exceptional. In two weeks time we open a new retail store in a different retail category to further deepen our customer experience.

While there is a place for professional education for business owners and managers, I have found that a good dose of floor walking and stock interaction can break the spell which has caused the business to slump.

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