New and new shopping malls are being opened, in Cambodia, Mexico, Kenya, and in many European countries. In Tallinn, Estonia, three more shopping malls will be opened this and next year: T1 Mall of Tallinn, Porto Franco and Tallink City.
Ektaco has been interviewing Janek Birnbaum who owns ten shops in Estonian and Latvian shopping malls, to get his view to the boom and ask for valuable recommendations how to start a new shop successfully in a shopping centre.
Janek has got more than ten years of experiences in retail business. His company L'Dolcevita is bringing the following brands to their Estonian and Latvian customers: kids garments Okaidi, ladies underwear Change and Bottega Verde kosmetics.
Three new shopping malls will be opened in Tallinn soon. How does it influence the shopping business?
The city is not highly growing in the number people living in it but there are more and more square meters of shopping space added. It is crucial for the shop owners that the people would visit their shops. But in case the number of shops is constantly growing then the customers will be divided among them. Who will be the winners? Nobody.
All is kind of well if leave aside the fact that the number of people does not comply with the growth of shopping space.
The other sad aspect is that we already now are lacking sales personnel that are well suited to work in shops. This problem is even more complicated due to the fact that people are not eager to work in the weekends but the shopping malls are open in Estonia seven days a week.
It is really tough to find new personnel for the shops in the shopping malls. There is just nobody.
I think that these three new shopping malls in Tallinn take the situation to the edge of real crisis. The biggest challenge for the shops is recruiting.
What are your recommendations for a shop owner opening his/her first shop?
Over the years I have obtained a lot of experiences and I hardly get any surprises. I would recommend the newcomers to think through the following five topics:
1. Location and visitors
The three most important questions are:
• Who are the visitors of my shop?
• Where do they live?
• What are their shopping habits and preferences?
Based on this information you can start to choose a shopping centre where to rent the space. It is crucial for your shop that the visitors are already visiting that shopping centre or otherwise you should have a really good vision and plan how to attract them to that shopping centre and your shop. A good magnet can be a larger retail shop that attracts visitors, being also your target group, due to its well-known.
2. Trained and motivated staff
The products selling by themselves are rear to happen. Mostly you need really good sales personnel who know the products and are great in servicing your shop visitors.
Selecting the personnel you should definitely pay attention to the personal qualities that match with the brand of your shop.
In addition to training your employees take care that the new skills and knowledge is applied in every day work situations. Our shop managers pay attention not only to the performance of staff but also their overall wellbeing. There is always an opportunity to talk about your concerns and sorrow.
Personnel are satisfied if they are taken into account and their troubles heard. You can see it right in the sales numbers!
As important as training and listening to the small and big worries of your staff is being a role model to them. It cannot happen that the shop manager does not know how to use a point-of-sale system or cannot serve the customers – it would demotivate the staff at once.
3. Homepage and e-shop
A homepage creates marketing opportunities and helps to raise your brand awareness. Necessity of an e-shop and its payback depend on your product specifics.
For example for Change underwear we definitely recommend customers to visit a real shop where the trained staff can suggest right models and sizes that the underwear would fit as made for you. Through the e-shop it is hard to achieve. But in case of cosmetics customers can nicely choose products in the e-shop provided that there is enough information provided.
One should definitely keep in mind that no e-shop will work just like that. You usually need one or two people to run it.
4. Point-of-sale system and video surveillance
Software and hardware can be called a hygiene factor that always need to work.
We did choose Ektaco to be our partner already in 2005 and they have proved to be nicely flexible and take into account our needs and wishes. CompuCash point-of-sale system is on very good level and competitive, so I truly recommend it also to other shopkeepers.
Choosing suitable point-of-sale software is not a rocket science. If you want to know how to choose the right one for your business, please read more from here.
5. Atmosphere and mood
Customers should feel themselves well in your shop. How to achieve it? On top of well-chosen lightening, good service and nice exposition, music is also important.
Right music influences both the atmosphere and the moos of your staff and customers. We have chosen a happy medium concerning the music: it should be so loud that the noise from the corridors would not interfere and so quiet that the customers can have smooth conversations with our staff.
If you could improve something in the shopping malls, what would it be?
We’d love to have a discussion about opening times of shopping malls. At the moment the shops are open until nine each day, including weekends. It makes it really challenging to hire sales people as they would also like to enjoy their weekends, especially Sundays.
Your sales people are happy when they can spend their weekends with their family and friends.
We’d wish that the shopping malls are open until eight on Saturdays and until six on Sundays. It is well reasoned by the statistics that we have in our shops.