Shopkeepers may learn good lessons from other shopkeepers who sell completely different ranges. A reason for this is that you are all competing for the attention of customers and today there is an oversupply of things for people to buy. So what works in one store can be adapted in yours.

I bought a copy of the April issue of Monocle because of its cover line: ‘The art of sell: the world’s best shopkeeping and retail stars’. Underneath there was a snappy illustration showing a man about town buying things.

The first time I looked through the magazine at the 25 retail stars I thought that I had been sold a pup. I was underwhelmed. On a second reading, I started to find things that were really interesting.

Firstly, the magazine says that its guide is a ‘celebration of good design, the art of doing the basics well and knowing how to treat people.’ Looking closely at the photographs you can see how these three values interact.

Second, there is a short interview with Bonnie Brooks, president of the Bay, a fantastic Canadian department store. I should know, I went in there once and came out with a suit that I did not expect to buy as a result of great customer service and product knowledge.

She is asked how do you stay fresh? “Relentless drive for the new,” she replies.
How does she overcome challenges? “Creativity: that’s the answer.”

Third, there is a pharmacy in Paris that offers a retail tip: ‘Have a friendly assistant on the shop floor as well as at the counter.’ Think about it – how could it work in your shop?

Fourth, there are three buying tips from Paula Hartness of 192 Books in New York that explain how their strategy of not stocking Dan Brown works. It is worth the price of the magazine to read these. You may know them but they still have a punch.

Finally, there are some thoughts from Masamichi Katayama, the best retail designer, who says that all retailers are looking for two things “a shortcut to greater success and a fast track to make the whole thing happen.”

Mr Katayama believes that retail will survive because while websites are good it is hard for them to “create that excitement and merchandising mix that get you to spend that little extra…”

Heck, that makes me feel optimistic! Does it work for you? You can take a look at a video of the Retail Stars on Monocle’s website.