A retail consultant is an individual or agency that helps determine a retail strategy for stores or other types of retail businesses. Usually, the goal is to increase sales by driving more people to the store and attracting them to products once there. Someone in this position may deal with promotions, merchandising, store design, location and even some personnel decisions.
Being a retail consultant may seem like a very focused task, but in reality it is not. Marketing and promotions are much different than human resources or store design. Merchandising is also a specialized area. Therefore, many may believe the best strategy is not to hire one consultant, but rather several consultants that may have specific areas of specialization. Many consulting agencies may offer this as an option.
For those who are opening a new retail business, hiring a retail consultant will require some additional expense. However, the rewards may justify the expense. Setting up a retail business correctly the first time could be the difference between success and failure. Further, it is cheaper to set up stores correctly the first time, rather than having to remodel or significantly change things later on.
A retail consultant can also help with the geographical location of the store, as well as product placement inside the store. He or she is well versed in product placement and consumer behaviors that many may not be. For example, grocery stores often find it better to place milk in the back corner of the store, knowing it is a product nearly everyone will need. Therefore, making customers walk past other merchandise on the way there may encourage more sales.
Further, a retail consultant can help with staffing issues as well. Consultants understand how and when the busy times will be and know how to staff appropriately during those times. They also better understand what skills are necessary among the staff to be a success. For example, the skills required for a hunting store may be different than those that are required for a women's clothing store. Of course, some of those skill sets will also be the same.
When choosing to hire a retail consultant, there are a number of important things to keep in mind. First, asking for what results have been achieved by a particular consultant is warranted. Second, choosing a consultant with a great deal of retail experience is important. While it may or may not be necessary to have a degree, an applicant should have plenty of knowledge and quantifiable results to back up their desire to work for you.