Every retailer wants to finish the final trading period of the year with better results than last year.
While every retailer is different, and every store has it’s own demands and goals, there are some actions, processes, and practices which are implemented by all successful retailers.
Here at RMS, we’re committed to helping retailers achieve their success goals.
To this end we’ve been gathering wisdom from those clients who have been achieving success post Brexit on what actions, processes and practices have helped them.
So in this Blog, we’re offering eleven tried and tested tips which you can implement to help ensure you are also celebrating a successful 2016 on the 31st of December…….
Whether your trading performance thus far in 2016 could use a lot of improvement, or you have done extremely well and want to break your own record for the last quarter, the suggestions below will definitely help finish the year with a flourish.
1. Get the best tools for your business.
• It you were a tradesman using outdated tools you couldn’t reasonably expect to be able to compete with your competitors. In that vein, ask yourself, are you using the wrong tools for today’s retailing?
• It makes total sense to bring in your EPoS hardware and software provider to carry out a ‘Free’ Audit on your EPoS system and procedures to ascertain if any of them could use an upgrade. If you find that your EPoS tools are outdated, take steps immediately to ensure you have the latest version available. This could mean installing the latest software update or purchasing new equipment. Upgrading your EPoS software isn’t about having the smartest looking tools. It’s about reorganising your operations in order to improve your customers shopping experience and your profitability through improved business efficiencies and customer services.
• If you are still using a slow mechanical cash register, you should consider transitioning up to a Cloud-managed POS system that’s faster and more powerful. Modern POS systems such as OpSuite come with features which enable you to track inventory, monitor sales, control customer loyalty programs, and integrate your eCommerce outlets all from one place. If you have wondered how your competitor seems to have an edge on you, then here is the answer; You can be certain they will be using a POS system to run multiple aspects of their business from one place.
2. Are you still using Excel spreadsheets, or even worse, pen and paper to track your finances?
• If so then take advice on moving up to modern accounting software that can automatically sync sales, reconcile accounts, and more. If you are already using accounting software, then keeping it upgraded is critical to maintaining security.
• Older programs can be easier to hack into, so keeping those software updates in check ensures that you have the latest security measures in place.
3. Your Website is your shop window to the world.
• Is your website mobile-friendly? It takes just three seconds to lose a customer! Online performance is — or should be — a top priority for you. With the majority of the public now using mobile devices to surf the Internet, Google now penalises those website which are not mobile friendly with poor search engine results. Today’s consumers are also approaching a zero tolerance level for web sites that deliver less than near-instant gratification. So how fast is fast? Well, consumers want sites to load literally twice as fast as they did three years ago — 47 percent expect pages to load in two seconds or less, according to a Forrester Consulting study reported in Internet Retailer. Perhaps the most ominous finding of all in this study: four out of five visitors are less likely to return to a site that’s left them hanging, and more than a quarter are less likely to visit that retailer’s brick-and-mortar locations! So, the message is clear; ensuring your website is ‘responsive’ to mobile devices is an absolute must if you want to have a good search engine ranking results and consequently, maximum sales.
• Are you implementing the latest data security measures? Ultra-strong passwords, firewall, antivirus and anti-malware software, daily data backups, and safe online habits training for employees are all essential measures which you should using for the protection of your business and its customers.
• Evaluate your online selling efforts and see if you need to update anything. The lines are increasingly blurred between digital and physical shopping experiences, and the 24/7 shopping culture of today’s generation means that your business should never be sleeping when you are. It is imperative that you utilise every digital marketing tool at your disposal to its absolute maximum.
4. Introduce additional sales channels.
• Omni-channel shopping (In-store, E-commerce, Amazon, E-bay, Telephone sales, etc.) is where everything is happening in modern retailing. It is important to your future success to have multiple sales channels in place so that shoppers can buy from you no matter where they are or what device they’re using. In fact, if shoppers see a disconnect between your in-store and online presence, they are likely to abandon your business altogether and shop with your competitors.
• It is not as difficult or expensive as you might initially think to set up Omni-channels. It’s very possible you will have a son, daughter, nephew, or niece in the 15 – 40 age groups who are already well versed with the phraseology and technology, and who with a little encouragement could guide you through the setting up of your additional sales channels. It also doesn’t need the Bank of England behind you to set up these additional sales channels. There are a multitude of platforms like Wix and Weebly that offer simple template websites giving you the possibility to set up an online store for a monthly cost less than what you would spend on a night out.
5. Strive to get more personal with your customers and treat them like the individuals that they are.
• Your competitors are becoming more and more focused on success, putting increased effort into attracting your consumers’ attention and pounds.
• Todays’ forward-thinking retailers are upping their game though Omni-channel shopping, fast order fulfilment, and competitive pricing. While you should certainly be implementing the same things in your physical store, don’t overlook the fact that connecting with your customers in a personal and relevant way is still the best way to generate trust and confidence in them for your businesses goods and services.
6. Ditch the one-size-fits-all approach to your customers.
• Most retailers understand the importance of email to their overall marketing strategy and recognise it is still a cost effective way of keeping your company name at the forefront of your customers mind.
• Fewer though seem to recognise that segmenting their customers according to their demographics, location, and purchase history will allow them to send more relevant communications and increase email marketing open rates and sales.
• It’s a simple practise really. Say you were the owner of a sports shop, there’s not much value in sending a promotional email about rugby boots to the local women’s volleyball team members. Sure one of them may have a rugby playing boyfriend, but you are more likely going to annoy them with irrelevant emails.
• So If you haven’t already done so, determine who your various segments of target customers are and send them relevant email promotions. When you combine this with relevant subject lines, you will find that your percentage of opened emails will increase dramatically.
7. Chip & Pin.
• Ensure that your payment processing equipment is PCI Compliant with the latest security standards.
• With the huge current growth taking place in the use of contactless payment methods by the public, serious consideration should be given upgrading to a system that can accept mobile payments such as Apple Pay or Google Android Pay in time for your Christmas period transactions.
8. Give employees a pep talk.
• Unless you are a one-man business, achieving record braking success will be challenging if your employees are not on-board with you goals and business philosophies. Set aside some time for a motivational talk and recognise the great things that your team achieved already this year. Encourage, and even incentivise them to do better.
• Think outside the box. Try offering rewards to your team members who bring the most happiness to your customers in their shopping experience.
• Ensure your team are fully informed about your plans (initiatives, EPoS and system investments, etc.) on how to increase performance for the future.
• Be open to taking suggestions from your team members on how to improve results. When employees see that you value and appreciate their opinions and suggestions, they in turn feel valued and appreciated, and are more likely to go above and beyond for your company and hold themselves accountable for their part of a project. Most importantly, they will be happier in their roles and this will be projected on to your customers.
9. Get a retail promotional calendar set up.
• Building customer loyalty with promotions and customer service is what builds your brand and your customer base. Happy customers lead to more customers! Lack of planning and organisation is one of the top reasons why retail promotions fail. This year, prevent that from happening by creating a promotional calendar. Start by going through a 2016/2017 calendar and marking all the important holidays and shopping events. This will allow you to plan ahead and ensure that your promotions run smoothly. If you are in need of some inspiration, a quick Google search for “retail promotional calendar” will give you a multitude of ideas.
• Control and monitor the results of your promotions through EPoS software such as OpSuite. This will enable you to produce detailed information on what worked and what didn’t, what profit margin you achieved, what type of customer purchased the promotion. With this, you’ll have all the information you need to create even more successful promotions in the future.
10. Schedule an inventory count.
• If you haven’t stayed on top of your inventory during 2016, then it’s crucial to do a physical inventory count now before your Christmas stock starts arriving. Use the results to run a promotion on any slow moving product and create pre-Christmas awareness within your customer base. Combined with your forward order records, the results of your inventory count will also show you where the holes are in your stock holding that will need plugged with additional purchase orders placed with your suppliers to ensure you don’t miss any sales.
11. Update your company information and bios.
• Did you have any special events, receive any awards, or feature in the media for anything during the year (new store openings, new products, etc.)? If yes, then be sure to update your social media and web pages accordingly. For example, if you feature brands on your website, see to it that the hottest brands are included. Or if you got a nice write-up in a newspaper, magazine or newsletter, display it on your site and in-store.
Here’s to a very successful year end, and 2017!
We’ll work with you to build your brand and improve back office performance, leading to increased profits for your business not just for this year end but well into the future.
We look forward to helping you with the future EPoS needs of your growing business.