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Game Of Thrones isn’t coming back on screens until 2019. As we brace for the long night, let’s take a look at some important retail advice that Game Of Thrones offers.

Indeed, epics and sagas have always served as reference points for how we live and work, and GoT is no exception. If you are a retailer just done with binge-watching all episodes of GoT and selling related merchandise, take a moment to reflect on the business lessons it has for you.

1. The Exceptions, Not The Rules, Survive

In all seven seasons, we’ve met some intriguing characters, and we’ve also seen them die. However, if you were to look at the list of survivors, it is filled with people you probably took a while rooting for. Jon Snow, the reluctant hero; Danaerys Targaryen, the breaker of the wheel; Tyrion Lannister, the unexpected favorite; Arya Stark, the girl turned assassin. They survived because they were different. They made choices no one else did.

Do the same with your retail business. Change cannot be achieved by doing the exact same things the exact same way. Do something different- something that no one else in the industry is trying. If you truly understand your audience, these risks will surely pay off.

2. Prepare, Winter Is Coming

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Retailers today face a unique challenge- that of a severely overcrowded market. Name any product, and there’s always more than one retailer selling it. Coupled with the widespread acceptance for online marketplaces, it seems almost impossible for an independent retailer to survive.

So, get on the bandwagon! Certain changes in buying patterns are quite irreversible and using the internet as a way to shop is one of them. If you have the budget for it, your web store with targeted marketing can help establish your brand. If not, let the great wall of Amazon protect you from harsh times. Join as a retailer and explore your options.

3. Breaking Trust Will Come Back To Haunt You

The Red Wedding is perhaps the goriest betrayal of trust in all seven seasons of GoT. It is followed closely by Littlefinger’s deception of Lysa Arryn and Cersei Lannister blowing up the Sept of Baelor, but nothing comes quite close to the bloodiest wedding of the century.

This explains why it is so satisfying to watch Arya Stark go after the Frey family, assassin mode on. That’s the thing about retail too. Products are a very tangible way of visualizing value and spending money, so when people don’t get what they expect, they revolt.

As a retailer, you may not intentionally ship a faulty product or sell defunct items. However, even a simple lapse such as not checking all your inventory from time to time, promising a timeline and failing to deliver or packaging that looks shoddy can get you bad reviews. With social media invading all our lives, these criticisms will be voiced loud and clear.

Avoid that pitfall. Spend more time in auditing your inventory. Check all incoming inventory for damages before you stock it in. Do your absolute best to deliver on sales promises. If and when you do get a negative review, do your best to correct the issue and change your buyer’s opinion.

4. Break The Wheel

Are you still trying to fit into the shoes of a traditional retailer? Are you still depending on spreadsheets to handle inventory, using the same packaging you used a decade ago, and failing to keep up with the digital marketing bandwagon?

It is time to reconsider how you do business.

Businesses that scale quickly and grow manifold in a short span of time must invest in a robust inventory management system. Not only does it work tirelessly, 24X7, it also helps you expand to more channels with ease.

Another aspect we’d like to address here is using digital marketing. Nearly every business today needs a web presence. However, doing the digital dance wrong is worse than not doing it at all. We encounter many brands online every day, yet so few of them make a mark on our mind. If you choose to take your business to social media, make it worth everyone’s while. Stop listening to what your brand must do and start thinking about what it could do instead. The possibilities are endless!

Some excellent examples of social media done right include Denny’s, White Space Studios, Fitbit and Nature Valley. Do it differently, or don’t do it at all.

5. Separate Work And Life

Jon Snow is the show’s most significant character to have died and come back anyway. Yes, his rebirth was not a choice made by him. However, many of the decisions he makes are often impersonal, yet necessary.

The people he executes, the expeditions he leads, the people he banishes- as an individual, he may never do these things, but as a leader, he has to, to survive. This attribute inspires a lot of trust in his ability to lead.

Businesses are somewhat similar. We get attached to them and begin to bring our personal agendas into them. You may stock a very niche product just because we like and use it. Or, you may cut ties with a vendor for very emotional reasons. These decisions are right for us as individuals, but not for our business.

Every time you make a drastic decision, stop and consider if this is you making the call or your company. By separating emotions from decision-making, we can choose only to do those things that help our business survive.

6. Be Unapologetic About Who You Are

We got to point six without making a(nother) mention of Tyrion Lannister, and we cannot resist anymore. A dwarf with an ugly scar across his face, eyes in different colors and a lopsided smile- the first instinct would be to run away from him.

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And yet, very rarely in the series do we find him making an excuse for who he is. Retailers would do well to take a lesson in acceptance from him. It is this ability to accept himself fully that lets him adapt to some bizarre situations (killing his dad, going to a new place, becoming Danaerys’s hand).

Have a mind of your own. Many companies today scramble to find a brand voice and style. What many miss is that all brands already have a voice- often, it closely resembles the founder’s persona. Today, its okay to be brazen, silly, funny, conversational, maybe even a bit of a snob. It is also entirely fine to be business-like, elegant, casual or formal. If you can believe in what your brand stands for, you can pull it off.

One critical aspect to consider- keep this voice consistent. Don’t use a brash tone on social media and offer watered-down descriptions on your site. Your retail stores are an expression of your brand, so find a way to be remembered.

7. Always Plan Ahead

Here’s what many characters on GoT never seem to be able to do- plan well. We don’t blame them entirely (their means of communication includes ravens), but never has this inability to plan done them any good, least of all in season 7.

Take Jon for example. Sure, they wanted to kidnap a wight, but did he ever truly stop to consider the potential size of the night army? His aunt Danaerys is not far off with poor decision-making. She planned a coup to surround Cersei with enemies but never considered that Cersei is both cruel and smarter. And so we had a season filled with deaths, destruction and a dragon that now breathes blue fire.

The best ideas fail to take off when planning isn’t involved. If you think you have a plan already, play the devil’s advocate and think, “What can go wrong here?” By planning not just for opportunities but also the emergencies, you have a surefire way to succeed in retail. At the very least, you won’t be caught by surprise.

2018 is only just beginning. Make plans for your retail business for the whole year. Include important holidays, sales seasons, discount periods, promotions, etc. in your calendar. Begin making sales forecasts now and stock your inventory accordingly. Think about what would happen if you have too much inventory left over, and make the plan B.

As our favorite characters have learned the hard way on Game Of Thrones, it is never too early to plan.

What other insights have you gained from this popular show? Share with your fellow retailers in the comments below.

Armed with a degree and a pen, loves to tell stories. When not telling stories, she also works. Hard to decide which one she likes more.