Red Zebra Business Centre - Management Memos
November 2011 Making Measurably More For Your Business Since 1985! Page 1
When it comes to branding, the issue can get complicated!

Max Williams, Principal Consultant

Our consulting practice has been McNicol Williams Management & Marketing Services for  long, long time. Twenty six years in fact. Then along came The Red Zebra, and after that, everything got complicated. 

The first complication came when the Red Zebra program took on a life of its own. We were called "The Red Zebra", but our invoices were "McNicol Williams"

Even more complicated when regular, fee-for-service consulting got mixed up with the retainer based services for The Red Zebra program.

Then 'The Red Zebra' got to be 'My Red Zebra' because of domain name issues . Now, we have added the on-line shopping portal, 'My Local Pool Shop', and' Highly Effective Marketing'! Very confusing.

So, now some small adjustments will make it clearer ...

McNicol Williams

McNicol Williams Management & Marketing Services operates a consulting practice. Click the image to Meet Our Team.

McNW Mgt & Mktg

Strategic Pathways

Management consulting on a fee for service basis, and managed to a client brief. This service is 'Strategic Pathways'. Click the image to See Our Service Palette.

Strategic Pathways

My Red Zebra

My Red Zebra supports business owners and operators who are so busy, they don't get time to do, well, everything! It's  designed specifically for Small and Medium Enterprises, operates wihtout a  client brief. My Red Zebra is provided monthly and charged on a retainer basis. Click the image to Visit My Red Zebra.

My Red Zebra

My Local Pool Shop

Now, My Local Pool Shop is a new service providing an on line shopping platform for retail pool shops. For pool shop owners who need an online presence, but simply can't get the time. Click the image to Go to the Web Shop.

My Local Pool Shop

Highly Effective Marketing

A service that takes all the worry and time out of making your marketing work! Can save you money too. Click the image to Contact Us through the website.

Highly Effective Marketing

Drive Carefully: Retail is Changing.


etail certainly is changing. There is a fearsome clash between ideologies, as advocates both promote and fight the internet. Here are two stories of modern retailing to give you a look at both points of view. Can you see the common ground?

Customer Service focus creates boomtime for Bunnings
Bunnings has posted a surprising 8.5 per cent increase in total sales in the first quarter of the 2012 financial year. Total store sales rose 8.9 per cent. Store on store growth was up 6.3 per cent (compared with a meagre 0.3 per cent increase in the same period last year).

Bunnings MD, John Gillam, noted that the business had been focussed on:
  • Driving service improvements, 
  • Expanding categories, 
  • Enhancing merchandising, 
  • Growing the network, and, 
  • Reinvesting in existing locations.
This is a handy compendium of advice to retailers finding it difficult to make significant inroads to their growth targets.

1. Driving Service Improvements

Right after Woolworths set out that superior customer service would be the defining "Sustainable Competitive Advantage" for their new 'Masters' store program, Bunnings took out top customer service honours. "Lower prices are just the beginning". Just a slogan? Looks like Binnings really mean it!

2. Expanding Categories

The range reset work Bunnings undertook more than 18 months ago shows how important it is to plan the product range with the market in mind.

3. Enhancing Merchandising

How very important. This includes visual merchandising, and in Bunnings it is of a very characteristic kind.

But it also covers the  whole range of planning, pricing, and promoting your merchandise specials. The basic 'nuts and bolts' of being an "expert retailer"!

4. Growing the Network

More engagement with the target market. More sales to absorb fixed expenses. Now that's not new, but it is mostly overlooked!

5. Reinvesting in Existing Locations

Most retailers seem to get new fit-outs from time to time, often as a result of a flood or storm, and using insurance money. There's not much re-development to add new features and improve staff productivity. Generally, low profitability doesn't allow creation of cash reserves for new fit-outs. That is really where careful pricing is terribly effective in business building.

These things are not easy, but they do relate to the many aspects of business development and profit growth discussed in successive consultations.

Solving the multi-channel puzzle
'New age retailing' is a lot about retailers to immersing themselves in becoming 'integrated multi channel retailers'.

Fundamentally, being 'multi channel' comes down to being a "cross channel" retailer - expert and practised at all the channels. These channels include:
  • the physical store, 
  • your online presence, 
  • addressed direct mail
  • email, 
  • smart phone, 
  • social media channels, and 
  • your Customer Relationship Management program.  
All of these must connect seamlessly with the customer at any point of location or time.

Easy to say of course, but how does a retailer become a cross channel retailer? Here are some imperatives for developing a successful cross channel strategy:

Change the cultural thinking

You need to place the customer at the centre of every conversation with your brand. In cross channel terms. More demanding than before.

Integrate information systems

The classic error is to build information 'silos'.  A better response to the multi-channelling challenge is to implement a truly integrated information system, able to connect with all data seamlessly.

Get the right people

You need quite different skills from what you have had before. Be on guard against the temptation to look at an existing staff member who is "really good at computers", or really "cool with the internet"

Integrate your customer contact systems

Customer contact has usually and largely been by way of advertising and in-store contact. 'Customer Relationship Management' programs get in the way of handling real live customers in the store.  Now you need a better system!

Plan Carefully for order fulfilment

It's one thing to have someone take it out of the store, or have it delivered by your service van.  It's quite another to have something ordered overnight on your webshop, and deliver it cost effectively and in a timely manner.

And all  that needs planning!

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McNicol Williams Management & Marketing Services is a Small Business Advisor listed with the Small Business Victoria, and has presented The Red Zebra program under its auspices. This listing requires that the first hour's consultation is always free. So when we say "No charge or obligation", we mean it!