It is very foggy outside today, and for some reason it is reminding me of the foggy world of business these days.

It’s hard out there. Plain and simple. Sometimes I wonder why it is so hard. Competition is one reason, it’s much easier for a small business to look like a big business, and to find a niche and compete. People take shortcuts. Everyone is trying to be the latest and greatest, and quite often the consumer is the one to suffer.

There is pressure on upper management in retail operations to raise profits, so they cut where they can. One of the core places they cut is human resource. Buyers are super valuable assets to the back office of a retail store, yet they are asked to do way more than they have time for, and the ultimate result is that sometimes the best product for the consumer is not the one chosen. The buyers don’t have time to really understand their customers, especially in an environment such as electronic accessories, where the market shifts with each new moon.

So what are we to do? How can we help the buyer? Two basic objectives that a buyer has is to present a product the consumer needs or wants, and to make sure that consumer doesn’t have to get back in their car 5 days later and return the item because it is broken. Knowing what they need or want is part magic, and part sweat. Making sure they don’t have to return it is about finding a brand who pays attention to details. Knowing a car adapter that gets hot during the test is a bad product, and will scare the consumer a day later. Knowing that paying the extra .25 cents in the manufacturing process can mean the difference between a product that is tolerated, and one that really makes the consumer happy. Long term profits over short term profits are the key to a sustainable business, and that is what will separate the novelty companies from the professional companies. The fog is starting to clear.

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