Up your retail game

Friday, March 20, 2015

It’s no longer enough to build a retail showroom and fill it with products, says Maria Markusen, director of operations & development for VGM Retail Services, who will speak at Medtrade Spring. Here’s what Markusen had to say about how retail now means tracking data and more.

HME News: What are some of the fundamentals of retail?

Maria Markusen: Traditional retail has always relied on science, data and analysis. If you aren’t analyzing it, you can’t grow your business. You analyze your competitors, you figure out which products to fold in to get your customers in the door. If you’re not tracking that kind of data, you’re going to miss a sale. 

HME: Why do HME providers need to get back to the basics? 

Markusen: Traditionally, we haven’t had to do this. It used to be, prior to having these changes in our world, that you would build a few relationships with hospitals. You didn’t have to try that hard to get the business. Now, we’ve got a group of shoppers who are very savvy.

HME: Have many providers lost their way when it comes to retail? Why?

Markusen: We’re at this interesting point in the industry. It used to be, you would build a showroom, put products in and you were in good shape. We’re now at a stage where that’s not good enough. Baby boomers, in particular—whether they are caregivers or have needs themselves—they have a different set of expectations when they walk into a retail space.

HME: How can providers keep their retail efforts fresh?

Markusen: People won’t shop in our business if they don’t know what’s available. They’re not going to buy the cover for the hospital bed if they don’t know it’s out there. Customers want the products to move on a regular basis. They want things that go beyond their disease space.