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  • Q&A with Strategic Retail Consultant Bob Antall

    [caption id="attachment_3062" align="alignleft" width="132" caption="Bob Antall of Consumer Centric Consulting "]Retail Consultant[/caption]

     

    "Hey Bob, what's a hot company to look out for this year?"

    "Target...it's going to be huge."

    "Target? Never heard of it."

    That conversation took place ten years ago.

    Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of talking to Bob Antall, strategic retail consultant for Consumer Centric Consulting. Antall is a consultant for such companies like Dick Sporting Goods, Target, Toys R Us and Polo Ralph Lauren. We talked mostly about changes in the retail industry, the merging of technology into sales and hot stores to look out for this year.

    Due to my interest in fashion and technology, I could have talked to him for hours, learning about the various strategic plans each company was using to increase their sales. He was happy enough to take some time and answer some questions dealing with sales and the retail industry.

    Brook Reilly: Are book stores becoming dinosaurs? What other retails products are like that?
    Bob Antall: I wouldn't say that books are becoming dinosaurs, but rather less popular. It was sad to see a company like Borders go out of business, but that's what happens when the retail industry changes. One of the biggest components to the failure of Borders was the digital movement: books going digital and music too. People don't know how big of an impact music going digital had on book stores. Once this started happening, companies started realizing that if music could be sold online, why not books? But bookstores will  hopefully never become extinct, but rather there will be less of them. There are still people out there, like my wife, who hate the kindle or reading a book digitally. They enjoy that feeling of going to a bookstore, buying a book and being able to turn the pages or even that "new book smell."

    BR: How is retailing changing?
    BA: Retail is always changing, but one of the biggest things that has affected the retail industry is incorporating technology into the sales and market strategy. Paying with your cell phone, shopping online, scanning codes for discounts, digital wallets and even finding deals on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Groupon. There are also a lot of companies that are going international, and a lot of companies that are migrating their stores to America. Stores like H&M and IKEA. It's a globalization. You also find those small, not even stores, but stands in malls during the holidays, selling more custom gifts and products suited toward that specific holiday.

    BR: I hear there are incredible apps for stores like Best Buy, where when you walk in, you open your app, and a salesmen comes to see you? What other things are coming down the pike?
    BA: Smart phones and apps are definitely playing a huge role in the retail business. There are apps that let you scan a UPC code for a specific product and that app will give you that product's price for all the competitive businesses. Let's say you walk into a Best Buy and are looking to buy a new TV. You can scan that TVs code and it will list all of the prices for that TV for other stores. But looking at things from the bigger picture, when it comes to sales, strategies and trends, you simply have to go with the flow. You can't anticipate things.

    BR: I love clothes shopping, what are some stores to keep an eye on?
    BA: H&M is definitely a store to watch out for. They are an international store that has done very well in America. They make great looking clothes that people WANT to buy for a very reasonable cost. Other stores to keep an eye on would be Pacific Sun, American Eagle, Rue 21, Hot Topic and Aeropostale. Even the luxurious retail stores like Nordstrom and Tiffany & Co are doing very well because the upper 5% in America can afford it right now.

    BR: What do your clients rely on you for?
    BA: My clients rely on me for three things: retail strategies, incorporating technology into sales and improving operations. At the end of the day, it's all about improving sales and reducing inventory, and asking the question, 'What can we do to improve your sales?'

     

    Bob Antall will be a monthly contributor to our blog, where we will be discussing sales strategies and popular trends in the retail industry. Be sure to visit his companies website, Consumer Centric Consulting.

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