The retail industry is constantly evolving and some of the rules that once governed it no longer apply. Here are a few success tips that could be useful for anyone thinking of launching a retail business in 2019 or rebranding an existing business…
Research your competition
The best retail businesses are aware of their competition. By being aware, you can borrow ideas that seem to be picking up popularity whilst also finding new methods to make your brand stand out.
Researching competition has never been easier thanks to the web. By following a company’s social media pages or signing up to their mailing list, you can see what deals they’re offering and what the main message of their brand is. In the case of online retail, it’s also possible to use analytics tools to find out what keywords customers are using when visiting competitors’ sites.
With so many retail companies now out there, it’s important that you find your USP (unique selling point). This will help your brand to be more memorable. Find out what it is that customers want more of from your competitors and aim to deliver this through your brand. You could do this through surveys or focus groups to get an idea of the most common answers.
Embrace digital technology
It’s vital that you embrace the latest digital tech trends so that your company feels fresh. Embracing this tech will also make your business more efficient than some of your competitors, who may still be using old methods.
Accepting card is the most important requirement nowadays – even market vendors are now carrying portable card readers. Ideally, you should look into a card reader that also accepts contactless as this is fast becoming the most popular form of payment. Mobile payment is also on the rise, so it doesn’t hurt to accept this in physical stores. As for credit card, this could be useful if customers often make large transactions.
When considering your payment methods, you should also consider your checkout services. Modern physical stores are now all switching to digital POS systems that can be easily linked up with accounting and stock keeping software, helping to automate these processes. As for online stores, you should ensure that you’re using a secure payment system (the likes of PayPal are popular).
Finally, you should consider using software to help handle the admin side of your business. Software can now automate everything from your employee payroll to your inventory logistics. Embrace this technology to make this side of business faster.
Make it an experience
This applies mainly to physical stores. As online stores rise in prominence and are able to offer cheaper prices due to less overheads, many physical stores are starting to suffer. To survive, many of these stores have started not just selling products, but selling experiences – something that online stores cannot offer.
An experience could include hosting events such as parties or functions. If you own a clothing retail store, you could arrange model experiences or clothes swap events. If you sell food or beer, you could consider tasting events or even cookery/brewing workshops.
Even if you don’t feel confident hosting events you should still try to appeal to people’s senses in some way. Giving out free samples of your product to taste or smell or wear could be one way to do this. Alternatively, you could creatively use lighting or scents.
Online sites can’t compete with these kind of experiences as they are limited to sound and visuals, however some retail sites have been trying new ideas such as playing with AR to allow customers to see what an item of clothing might look like on their face. Some online retailers have also been using videos to give demos of products or tell a product’s history.
The latest generation of consumers cares about the effect their purchase has on the world. Taking an ethical stance could help you to attract more customers, whilst making you and your employees feel good about the positive impact that your company is making.
Ethical ideas could include being more environmentally-friendly – this could include sourcing more organic products, going paperless and possibly running your business of sustainable power. You could also consider only selling fair trade products – these are products that have been sourced or manufactured using workers who are being paid a fair wage in safe working conditions. You may even want to consider getting involved in charitable causes or donating some of your proceeds to charity. You could even get your customers directly involved by donating one dollar from every purchase to a charitable cause.
Don’t forget the admin
You can’t afford to be sloppy with admin nowadays – paying your taxes, paying staff on time, organizing rotas, maintaining stock and keeping diaries of all business processes are all important if you want people to take your business seriously.
If you have no prior experience in business, you may want to consider taking a course such as a distance learning masters in business administration. This could help teach you everything you need to know about the admin side. Alternatively, you could try signing up to a couple workshops or short courses.
This all may not be necessary and some people may feel they can learn enough simply by educating themselves with books and blogs. You can find plenty of advice online in the form of blogs and Youtube videos.
Another option of course could be to outsource your admin. Many retail companies hire an accountant to keep their books in check, whilst others may also hire people to look after HR matters such as recruiting staff and keeping on top of holiday and sick leave.