The 3 Key Retail Questions

Mentor in my early retail career gave me these questions to ask whenever I needed to resolve why an item wasn’t selling. I think it’s solid advice even today with all of our data driven decisions we make.

Am I in stock with the item or items?

Don’t just check your inventory system. Check to see if the actual product is on the shelf, as it doesn’t count to have the product only to have it in the back room! It is important to remember that best selling items often have multiple points of distribution, and every single one needs to have product.

Is it signed properly with the price?

Having a sign makes a huge difference in sales. The often used “signs are your silent salesmen” proves true in most cases. Signage includes price or shelf labels and signs to call out special pricing or discounts.

Is the planogram correct?

Sometimes something stops selling because an item gets moved by accident, or is blocked by another product. Both of these situations can negatively impact sales. Have a system of front facing to make sure your top sellers don’t get covered up, and another system to audit your planograms for accuracy.


My current to do list setup

The to do application I currently use is 2Do. I think it has just the right amount of complexity balanced with ease of use. It has several features that are important to my system.

  1. Lists based on a saved search (Smart Lists).
  2. Easy to manage system for tags.
  3. Projects and checklists.

My current list setup looks like this:

  • Inbox – everything gets dumped in here, and processed into the list it belongs in during daily or weekly review (and whenever free time permits).
  • @Work – my work list.
  • @Home – my home list.
  • @Errands – errands and shopping lists.
  • Follow-Up – Smart List that includes any task tagged with ‘Follow-Up’. I use it to get a quick look on items I need to follow-up on.
  • Projects – Smart List that includes any project in any list.
  • Checklists – Smart List that includes any checklist in any list.
  • 1:1 – (Smart List based on tag for each person.) – I have 10 permanent one-on-one lists, and another 4 to 10 temporary one-on-one lists. The permanent lists include my supervisor and my direct reports. The temporary lists I add and delete as demand dictates. I’ll add a list based on need. For example I currently have a construction project going on, and I created a 1:1 list for the general contractor.
  • Drafts – temporary holding place for to do items, projects, and checklists that aren’t finished.
  • Templates – holds to do items, projects, and checklists that I’ll duplicate and reuse as needed.

Weekly review checklist

I use a checklist during my weekly review. (More on my weekly review process in a future post.)

Empty my inboxes

  • -Email
  • -Evernote inbox
  • -Notebook
  • -Voicemail
  • -Collect loose papers
  • -Mental inbox (use the trigger list to clear my mind)

Review my week

  • -Review my @ lists
  • -Review my 1:1 lists
  • -Review any ongoing projects
  • -Review my Follow Up list
  • -Review my Someday list
  • -Review next weeks calendar
  • -Review my Week/Month/Year/5 Year goals

Trigger List for weekly review

The trigger list is an extremely useful tool to use during your weekly review. I use this to remind myself of any missed actions or commitments I made from the past week. It is important that you customize your list to work for you – add items, remove items. I’ve included my trigger list as a starting point to build and customize your own.

Download my customized trigger list document I use: TriggerList.pdf

Useful File Naming Conventions

I use a set of standard file naming conventions to make it easy to organizing quickly find the files I need, and to quickly know what a file concerns without opening the file.
I start all file names of a group of related files with a project name. I keep the name short and to the point, and will use abbreviations if they make sense.
Example project names

LP_ for loss prevention
Q2B_ for 2nd quarter budgets
BR_ business review

I end files with several different tags.

_wc for working copy
_rc for release candidate
_final for final copy

Working copy is used to identify files I’m working on but are not complete – works in progress. Release candidate identifies documents that are complete, but need final approval or proof-reading. Final identifies files that are finished, approved, and ready to be distributed.
Example project names

BR_cover sheet_final.docx - business review cover sheet, final version
NL_may 2017_rc.docx - newsletter for May 2017, release candidate

Folder Organization
File Naming Conventions

Useful Email Subjects

I use the following in my email subjects to improve the clarity of my emails. 

  1. [ACTION] An action or series of actions must be completed. This email should be considered a ‘to do’ item.
  2. [COORD] Coordination by or with the recipient is required. 
  3. [DECISION] Requires a decision by recipient. 
  4. [INFO] For informational purposes only, requires no action or response by recipient. 
  5. [REQUEST] Seeks permission or approval. 
  6. [SIGN] Requires signature. 

For example the subject of an email might be “[DECISION] 4Q bonus targets”. The subject lines now give an indicator to the reader of your expectation, and allows them to quickly process your email. Additionally, the quality of the responses you receive when using these will greatly improve.

I will also use EOM in the subject line if the entire message is contained in the subject. “The flight now lands at 4pm gate 32 EOM” lets the reader know that the entire message is contained in the subject, and there is no need to open the email. 

If the email is lengthy or involved I will often begin an email with “Bottom Line:” followed by specific item, information, or decision I need.  For example I may put “Bottom Line: We need to decrease 4Q budgets to 5% of YOY sales.”, and then follow that with all of my supporting information. This makes sure that I am upfront with what I need when it’s possible my message is long or involved and fear the primary message may be missed.

Simple Project Postmortem

This simple, plain text Project Postmortem can easily be copied into a Word document or the body of an email. It is designed to quickly provide a clear, concise analysis of your project so you better plan future projects.

Use this to analyze your Simple Project Plan Template’s success or failure.

Project Name:
Start date: mm/dd/yyyy
Due date: mm/dd/yyyy
Project success was determined by the following conditions:
1. Condition
2. Condition
3. Condition
The following success conditions were met with the following results:
1. Condition, result
2. Condition, result
The following success conditions were NOT met:
1. Condition
2. Condition
Overall project assessment:
Score the project according to the measures provided below. [4 Outstanding, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Unsatisfactory]
[4/3/2/1] Was the overall project successful?
[4/3/2/1] Was the project completed within by the project due date?
[4/3/2/1] Were all of the success conditions met?
[4/3/2/1] How good was the project planning?
[4/3/2/1] How was the communication between team members?
[4/3/2/1] How was the communication between the project team and the supervisor?
[4/3/2/1] How was the cooperation between team members?
Copy and paste scoring to add any additional questions.
Key Accomplishments
1. What went right?
2. What worked well?
3. What was found to be particularly useful?
4. Project highlights
Key Problem Areas
1. What went wrong?
2. What project processes didn’t work well?
3. What specific processes caused problems?
4. What were the effects of key problems areas (i.e. on budget, schedule, etc.)?
5. Technical challenges
Lessons learned:
1. Item
2. Item
3. Item
Post project tasks/Future considerations:
1. Ongoing maintenance requirements?
2. What tasks or activities still need to be completed.

Copyright 2017 Deran Durant ( PGP fingerprint: 2FDF 77D2 34D4 F621 EDD0 571F B065 8544 331B C43A). License: Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) []