With big retailers increasingly tapping into the power of technology to create omnichannel marketing powerhouses, the retail landscape is becoming more challenging than ever for small business owners. To survive and thrive, you’ll really need to put your game face on. Below are seven retail tips and moves you should make to prepare your business for a profitable new year.
Change It Up
The thrill of discovery is part of the reason shoppers still head into brick-and-mortar retail stores. Give them something different every time they visit by changing your windows and displays at least weekly. This can be something as simple as rotating different stock to the front rounders or display tables, putting timely posters in the window, or switching what the mannequins are wearing. The goal is to get customers to pause, take a second look and come inside.
Get Ahead of Trends
I know there’s tons of information to keep up with, but it’s crucial to stay ahead of the next big thing. Make it a goal to regularly read industry publications, blogs and websites so you’re current on the hottest trends in your niche — whether that’s children’s toys, women’s accessories or cookware.
Make a Showing
Visiting retail trade shows is critical to staying on top of trends. After all, there’s no substitute for actually seeing and touching merchandise in person. Try adding one new trade show to your schedule this year — ideally, one that exposes you to a new type of supplier or product that you don’t currently deal with.
Scope Out the Competition
It’s easy to check out what your competitors are doing if they have an online presence. However, it’s equally important to check out their physical locations whenever possible. If you can’t make time or you’re too recognizable as the “enemy,” send scouts to mystery shop their stores. What are they selling? How are they merchandising? What’s getting customers inside their stores?
What technological investment would make the biggest difference to your store’s success? Are you struggling with an ancient POS system? Do you need better inventory management software? Or would you like mobile devices to make sales on the run? Talk to your staff. They will be happy to share any frustrations about how outdated tools are slowing them down. Then invest wisely with an eye to systems and products that can grow as your store grows.
Sharpen Your Image
Are your fixtures dated or shabby? Do the walls of your store need painting? Does the storefront look dreary? Image matters more than ever in today’s competitive retail environment. Often we lose sight of how our business looks to outsiders, because we see it every day. If you’re not sure what impression your store makes, enlist impartial acquaintances to visit and give it to you straight. A few coats of paint and some fixtures (which you can often find inexpensively used or at going-out-of-business sales) can make a big difference.
Don’t Forget the Finishing Touches
Upscale is where it’s at these days in just about every industry. Consider how bars sell $15 drinks by upgrading from basic glassware and standard cocktails to creative “mixology” featuring artisanal spirits and fresh garnishes. By the same token, upgrading your retail store with little touches can make customers willing to spend more. Don’t just shove purchases into a blank plastic shopping bag — wrap them carefully in colored tissue and seal them with your business’s engraved logo. Investing in quality accessories such as shopping bags, tissue paper, ribbons or gift wrap pays off by boosting your brand’s perceived value.
You’ll need to go the extra mile to compete in 2015. By taking these steps and using these retail tips, you’ll be well on your way.
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