Common Retail Mistakes to Avoid

September 13, 2021
Young retail business owners frustrated at table with tablet
The retail world is filled with "best practices," but what are some of the most common mistakes we've seen that could be easily avoided? Read more to find out!

Though it may seem simple, the retail world is incredibly complex and multifaceted. There are a ton of things a business owner has to be aware of at all times when opening and operating his or her business. They need to be knowledgeable of local competition, to provide top-of-the-line customer service, and to offer competitive pricing. Pile that on with the everyday headaches of keeping the place going and you have yourself the perfect recipe for stress and burnout. While you can find plenty of articles telling you what you can do better as a retail professional, we’re going to go over a few all-too-common mistakes made in retail that are often overlooked and can make all the difference in the long run. 

1. Responding too quickly to the market

Retail is a competitive sport. If you aren’t providing the best products at the lowest prices, someone down the street will. At the same time, it’s vital that you stay apprised of market trends and have the wherewithal to know when a price dip/surge is just a flash in the pan. It’s a fact that most retailers will respond to increased competition by lowering their prices. It’s also a fact that these tendencies often come back to bite them. When you create an unrealistic expectation for the customer, in this case a nominally low price for a product, they are going to expect the same (or better) the next time they come to you. These unrealistic expectations can lead to business closure faster than you could imagine. Fortunately, it’s not all up to your personal wisdom and market knowledge; there are plenty of price intelligence softwares to help. 

2. Lack of creativity

The idiom “the cream rises to the top” applies to many things, retail included. Simply being a retail store with ‘x’ products isn’t enough to sustain your place in the community for the long haul. This is why retailers need to be creative! If you want people to continue visiting your business, you need to hook them with creative marketing strategies, branding, and even finding ways to involve your business in the community!

3. Not using the latest tech

There’s a comfort of using the old paper ledger, time card, post-it note, and other antiquated models of maintaining business. But they’re not efficient! By transferring your workforce management over to a system (hint, hint, like ours), you’re saving yourself and your business ample time and money. Workforce management softwares allows you to create weekly schedules (and scheduled special events), log and distribute work hours and payroll, create checklists, and so much more. Stop wasting time on dated systems of record keeping that waste time and instead use that time to build up your business and its offerings! 

4. Too Specific, Too Broad

Is it better to be a jack of all trades, or to have complete mastery of one thing? Lots of retail business owners open up their shops out of passion, meaning they are stocking their place with niche items. But is that suitable to their location? For instance, if you’re opening up a baseball shop and sell just mitts, are there enough baseball players to buy up all the mitts? It’s highly unlikely. This is why it’s important for retail owners to not be too specific, so as to have such a small offering that they become irrelevant for shoppers after a purchase or two, and at the same time not be too broad, to the point that shoppers are confused as to what type of products you’re offering.

Where to go from here…

Like we said at the beginning, the retail world is infinitely complex and there really is no one size fits all answer. There are, however, particular things that one shouldn’t do! Don’t react too quickly to market shifts, as they can play out poorly in the long run. Do develop a knowledge of your marketplace and the true value of your products (there are softwares to help you)! Don’t rely on age-old tactics to attract business. Do look for creative ways to approach and market your business to the community. Don’t use outdated and time consuming methods for running your business. Do start using a workforce management system and save time and money. Don’t be so specific in your niche that you are a one-hit wonder. Do approach all aspects of your market to keep customers coming back.

Any other major “no-no’s” we forgot? We’d love to learn about them! Shoot us an email at!

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