Over $2 billion was turned over, around Australia, on Boxing Day*. Up about 5-6% from the sales figures in 2012, the experts in the field are saying this is pointing to a strong year of retail trading in 2014.
This is good news for independent retailers, who have had it fairly tough over the last couple of years. However, this is no time to rest on your laurels. Have you made a New Year’s Resolution for your company? Here are suggestions to consider if you haven’t yet:
Perfect Your Team.
It takes effort for a manager to help people evolve as employees. This year treat employees as investments, and watch your sales grow. Motivate them to be better at their roles and to reach higher goals. Your retail employees are the ones on the front-line every day and should be trained to reduce shrinkage, improve customer service and increase sales opportunities.
A good team will remove weight from your shoulders. Instead of stressing over the purchasing, merchandising or advertising, rely on others to help you with the endless list of retail. Hire support when needed or simply ask questions from your trusted team. With a good team, you don’t have to do it all, this year.
Where you can, cut operating expenses. Look around your shop. Could buying instead of leasing save money? Is there a money or time saving piece of technology you could implement in your store this year? Are you outsourcing what you could easily do? When selecting a supplier, have you considered shipping, terms of sale and other factors to determine the vendor with the best value? These small details often erode a retailer’s bottom line.
Decide that 2014 is the year to stand out!
Choose a different marketing medium from all your competitors. Target products specifically to customers in a consistent and memorable way this year. Reflect the personality of your store and your brand. If you don’t spread the word, no one will know you exist.
Publicity awaits those who are different from the crowd. Plan your marketing plan to be different and unique. Local media are consistently looking for new stories. Your story could be their next pick… they just need to know about it.
Control Inventory to Reduce Shrinkage
Employee theft and shoplifting may not be a problem in your business, but simple pricing mistakes can also lose you money. Improve inventory management. Many struggle to manage their inventory, leaving them understocked on key items, overstocked on almost everything else, and with a poor cash flow. Buy to a carefully considered sales plan, focus on faster turning items and buy closer to need. Look to increase inventory turnover and increase sales.
The start of something new?
Customers get bored with the same thing. While it’s true that some products are proven consistent best sellers maybe it’s time to refresh others. You may need to have a clearance sale of your older stock to make room for new things. Don’t be afraid to be adventurous, based on customer trends, demographics or requests. Very few retailers have ever improved sales by stocking the same old-same old. Customers are prepared to pay more for things that are on trend, distinctive, and of higher quality. Careful testing is the essential process of identifying the most compelling NEW!
Increase Sales Opportunities
Take advantage of every possible opportunity to sell. Whether you’re up-selling to a single customer or planning an expansion, explore growth opportunities. Growth can come in different ways. Consider opening additional stores, or expanding the existing store in size and/or range; even something as simple as rethinking the design of your current store to enhance merchandising will pay off dividends.
Listen To Your Customers.
Take the time to listen to what your customers want, don’t want and need. Talk to them. Train your employees to do the same. While you are at it, put customer service on your resolution list and intensify the focus on it this year. Ensure your customer service stands out from the competition and it won’t go unnoticed. Listening to customers will make them feel valued, and they will reward you with increased loyalty. Customer loyalty is one of your most valuable assets.
Finally, remember that resolutions get broken when they are too impractical. Be realistic about your goals, to give them the greatest chance of success.