Wednesday, November 26th0.1°C
Ignite Innovate Impact - Geoff Mintenko

Zombies and the death of your business

The sad reality is more and more brick and mortar retailers, large and small, will cease to exist as the comfort and ease of online shopping grows leaps and bounds in popularity daily.

Those retailers turning a blind eye to this evolution of how consumers are choosing to shop, will soon enough be turning their open sign to closed - permanently, if they don’t embrace online shopping as a viable addition/option to their businesses.

To those old fashioned retailers that feel consumers will never buy a sofa, clothing, eye glasses, etc online without trying them all prior, you’re dead wrong. I can tell you from personal experience, my wife and I have bought all of the above online without ever stepping foot in a store to see, touch or feel the purchased products.

We are part of a growing consumer base that is tuning out bad service at retail outlets and shopping by mouse in the comfort of our own home. In the past two weeks alone we have encountered less than good service from three independent retailers.  We are very easy to please and wish to do our part, however we won’t be going back to any of those local shops.

There are many factors why online shopping has become such an attractive way to purchase worldly possessions. One factor of course is price. Lower overhead in operating expenses allows profit margins to be significantly different than those of a brick and mortar store.

No doubt about it, price is not everything to everyone. When I was a retailer, I made sure energetic proper staff, superior customer service and very specialized product lines priced at appropriate market value, made pricing objections very uncommon. Customers gladly paid top dollar for products, guided by genuine, personal interactions with knowledgeable staff that were truly into their jobs.

So if it’s not all about price, what else has online shopping got going for it over the total in store touchy, feely experience? Good question, it’s actually what it doesn’t have going for it that is having a very positive effect. It doesn’t have what I will call “Retail Zombies”.

Many consumers including myself will continually fade away the shop local experience if the retailer or business doesn’t offer the genuine customer experience of professional service from its staff.

Enter the “Retail Zombies”. These are the front line clerks or sales people that are literally the walking dead. These people have no business dealing with your limited customer base. They are tuned out, communicate poorly, have a genuine uninterested attitude in what they are doing and are very poor listeners. They have no business in your business.

These “Retail Zombies” are costing you money and may be the complete downfall of your business if you don’t make some changes. The most interesting fact in all of this is, the “Retail Zombies” are your fault. Oh, have I touched a nerve? Good, it’s easy for you to blame not being able to find the right staff on so many different variables. That’s a story you’ve created, it’s a story of personal convenience and mindset. Change your story, change your mindset.

If you have not dedicated the time to ongoing proper training, coaching and mentoring your staff to excellence, you are contributing to the zombie problem and demise of your business.

If you have not handpicked people that are truly excited to work in your personal culture and can’t wait to show it every day, you are contributing to the zombie problem and demise of your business.

If you are paying low wages and solely basing your pay structure on performance, you are part of the zombie problem and demise of your business.

Don’t let “Retail Zombies” be the demise of your dream. I and many others would love to come and shop at many of your stores again - but we won’t, unless you take action.

Remember this; online shopping is “Retail Zombie” free, 24 hours a day.


Questions, comments? Come over to my Retail Evolution Facebook page and start a discussion.


Business survival - a checklist

Profitable and enjoyable retailing in today’s economy relies on you sparking innovation, igniting positive change and taking direct action.

Fresh idea generation, improved experiences and new blueprints for success are three key elements equating to strong ROI in a rapidly changing retail landscape.

I’ve developed a popular checklist used by many of my business clients in the USA and Canada. This checklist helps business owners set a course for personal business success and positive growth. Below is a sample of what the checklist has to offer. If you wish to have the entire checklist, I offer it free to all those that are interested. Just go to and follow the instructions – it will be sent to you instantly. Use this checklist to help navigate a course of happiness, profitability and longevity for you, your team, your customers and company.


  • Do you agree and understand, your entire way of life depends on the success of your brand?
  • Have you created your own unique, personal, honest, meaningful clear position in your industry?
  • Is your branding reflected consistently across your social media platforms?
  • Is your business truly remarkable at what it does?


  • Are you continually reviewing your marketing strategies? Even if it’s worked for you in the past, it may have zero relevance to your current consumer base. Be prepared to stop using certain modes of advertising. This may be uncomfortable due to lengthy relationships with advertisers past, get over it, you’ve got a business to run. The past does not equate the future.
  • Are you marketing you company in the most effective ways possible? Your business may have a face for radio or it might be TV pretty. No matter what you personally believe, you must have a strong online presence. It doesn’t matter what your business is, if you don’t have a strong social media and online presence your future world (or city) domination will be extinct before you know it. It’s all about being social in today’s consumer centric world. Today’s customers review, shop, purchase and comment online about everything, get used to it and become a part of it.


  • Does everyone on your team fit your brand? Your brand is a promise that has to be fulfilled. Your brand will live and die with the actions of every employee. Are you igniting the passion in those that live and breathe your brand? Are you releasing those in a quick and effective manner that don’t serve your image?


  • When filling your sales floor, do you focus on faster selling and higher profit items to show and go?
  • Are you continually liquidating everything over 90 days? This inventory represents cash. You must get over the bad decision you may have made in purchasing some lines that didn’t perform well, clear out the stock and move on. Let it go.


  • It’s a brand you world. Are you coaching and mentoring your team to excellence in delivering the top notch level of service you wish to convey?


  • Do you lay awake at night worrying about your company’s financial health?
  • Are you just getting by and concerned at times you won’t have enough cash on hand to pay the bills, payroll and other unforeseen expenses?
  • Do you want to know how you can provide for future investment and growth in your company?
  • Have you convinced yourself that there’s no profit in retail like the old days?
  • Are you unclear on how to enhance and grow the profit in your business?
  • Do you question why you went into business in the first place when you look at your bank statements at the end of the month and wonder where all the money went?


Your next step? Contact us for more info. or [email protected]

The buying bug

This ”Buying Bug” is easy to catch and has bitten more retailers than you can imagine.

The “Bug” I am speaking about is the habit of simply purchasing far too much inventory than is required for a particular retail store or department within a store.

This common practice has crippled many retailers from having “open to buy credit” or dollars on hand to purchase inventory that is necessary to the successful operation of day to day business. Fact be known, I have personally seen over-buying of inventory sink long term businesses.

When doing strategic planning for brick and mortar retailers, I see this trend of over-buying inventory largely evident in two particular markets.

First, the family owned business, where family dynamics and personal preferences in direction and opinion, mixed with the history of how things used to be done, take a toll on the check book and floor space.

The other dramatically affected market segment is the franchised “popular brands” type of store. The franchisee unfortunately in many cases has little personal say about what may or may not be inventoried on their own sales floors or quantities thereof.

The franchisee is then put in a position of stocking inventory that may not be what the local market is asking for in abundance. This practice takes up valuable showroom real-estate and inventory dollars. My advice to individuals in this position is simple – use your voice. If you have done any travelling whatsoever, you can get a fairly quick indication that trends in Saskatoon, are far different than what’s trending in Toronto or Victoria, Los Angeles or Chicago; all markets are unique. Serve your unique market.

So what can you do if you have the “Bug” and or an excess of inventory? I’ll share with you some tips from my popular “Retailers Cutting Edge Checklist” - these tips are from the Inventory list section. Read them and reap!

First off, this is not the time to reminisce about how things used to be done, or how your father would have priced product to make maximum profit. Consumer trends and buying habits are changing faster than ever. You must live and retail in the present moment, if you want to be a successful business owner.

  • Do you capitalize on current trends and buy your product using “Just In Time” ordering processes? Don’t over-inventory goods; focus on growing the special order niche of consumer demand. Custom is where it’s at for many markets.
  • Have you started reviewing your inventory levels more frequently? Do you drop lines that no longer serve you? Are you listening to what customers are looking for? Don’t just buy from your favorite suppliers because that’s the way you’ve always done it.
  • When filling your sales floor, do you focus on faster selling and higher profit items to show and go?
  • Are you continually liquidating everything over 90 days? This inventory represents cash. Get over the bad decision you may have made in purchasing some lines that didn’t perform well. Clear out the stock and move on. Stop living in personal judgement and stop asking permission – just do it.
  • Clear out your outdated items at cost. Seriously, just get over it. Fresh is best, clear that inventory out. I don’t care how your father retailed or how the franchisee may feel about it. Do you want to be in business or in the unemployment line? Besides, customers will remember the deal they got and always wonder what’s new in your store.

There you have it. Just a quick prescription on how to cure the bug. I travel the world helping cure this virus. Need me to make a house call? Start with your FREE 25 Point Cutting Edge Checklist at

Questions, comments, house call? Come over to my Retail Evolution Facebook page and start a discussion.


Truth or dare

You can learn a lot about your own company, if you have the guts and an open mind enough to appreciate and respect the truth.

Companies that encourage their staff to be vocal and honest with them about how they can improve experiences, have less staff turnover, higher client retention and make more profit. You see, when you allow people to contribute with their minds, you’re contributing to the future, yours and theirs.

When I do on-location custom business reviews for clients, I make sure I’m able to talk with the staff on the front line, it’s where truth lives.

If you’re willing to accept some creative observation from your team, I commend you. If you feel you can handle the truth about how things could improve, I double dog dare you to print this off and have your staff answer the questions attached.

Have them give it back to you when complete. Start a conversation with them regarding their observations. Be respectful and appreciative for what you may learn. This is an exercise in positivity on how to improve and grow – It’s not to be treated as a negative.

Got guts?

  1. In our business, are we the very best at what we do? If not, in what areas could we improve?
  2. Do we continually deliver the best customer experience available? If not, how can we improve?
  3. Are our company’s systems and processes smooth and seamless allowing for an effective, quick and efficient experience for our customers?
  4. Do we operate in complete transparency? Are we transparent enough with our team and our clients regarding important information?
  5. In our business, are we coaching, mentoring, guiding and managing everyone to be all they can be? If not, how could we improve?
  6. Do you personally feel, you could contribute more to our company than we ask of you? If so, in what ways?
  7. Do you feel our customers look forward to seeing us? If not 100% how could we improve?
  8. Is our company keeping current with all the trends and changes that are going on around us?
  9. Do we continually give you all the tools you personally need to develop and succeed in our company? If not, how could we improve?
  10. What would be the one big thing you would have our company change if we could change it right now?

Good job!

Positive communication is key to operating a successful business. The important thing is to never stop asking questions. I triple dog dare you to carry on the conversation from this point on.


Question, comments? Come over to my Retail Evolution Facebook page and start a discussion. 

Read more Ignite Innovate Impact articles


About the Author

Renowned Retail Expert and Strategist Geoff Mintenko is the driving force behind the company Retail-Evolution. Geoff consults and speaks to power retailers North America-wide, sparking innovation, igniting positive change and helping companies thrive is his passion.

Geoff’s real-speak, direct approach attitude to business, has garnered him local and international acclaim. The articles he writes and the keynote speeches he gives are meant to stimulate, educate and frustrate - that’s a good thing, it helps business evolve. Helping companies break boundaries, shift mindset and foster a culture of creativity is Geoff’s specialty. He has helped many companies thrive in this ever-changing economic climate.

You can find him at or [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories

RSS this page.
(Click for RSS instructions.)