Every retailer wants their business to achieve its very best. Whether your performance over the last 12 months left room for improvement, or you consider it an unmitigated triumph, a brand-new year gives you the opportunity to smash any previous successes and set brand new records for your business. To help you do just that, here are our top retail success tips to make 2020 your best ever year!
Upgrade your technologies
Technology is continuing to evolve at a rapid pace, and nowhere is this more obvious than in the retail industry. There are many benefits to embracing technology as part of your retail business, but these are only as good as the hardware and software that you use. Moving from tried and tested manual processes to technology systems may seem daunting, and they may require you to make a reasonable investment of both time and money. However, the majority of retail technologies available have been shown to increase productivity and reduce operational costs. Many will also add value to your customer experience, helping to ensure that you meet their ever-growing expectations.
Not all upgrades require a significant financial investment. Some retailers don’t realise that simply by downloading the latest version of the software they use, they could be eliminating bugs and glitches and giving themselves access to new improvements and new features that have been made by the developer.
Upgrading your technology is also important for you to maintain the security of your business and any customer information that you hold. Data breaches can spell disaster for your business. Not only will your financial information be at risk, but if you hold any personal information for customers, this could also be hacked and obtained, potentially putting your customers at risk of identity theft. Software updates often include improvements in cyber security for the system, helping to keep your business and customers safe.
Some of the key things that you may need to consider upgrading in your business include:
Your Point of Sale: Modern POS systems such as Hike are sleeker, faster and more powerful than outdated cash registers. Not only do they help you to process your sales, but they also come with a range of invaluable tools that help you to run your business. These include inventory management, in-built loyalty programs and other ecommerce features that enables you to run multiple aspects of your business from one place. They also offer integrations with other helpful software tools such as Xero and Shopify.
Your website: Is your website working for you? Does it respond appropriately when someone accesses it on a mobile device? Are your website transactions secure? Online shopping is a huge draw for many customers, and so you should make sure your website offers the great customer experience that you deliver in your bricks and mortar store.
Accounting: Balancing the books is a crucial aspect of any business, and there are now more tools that can help you with this than ever before. Many brands of accounting software now integrate with POS systems, making the job of crunching those numbers even easier!
Inventory: A surprising number of retail businesses still use manual methods for tracking inventory, but this hugely increases the risk of human error. By upgrading to a modern inventory software, or indeed a POS system that has integrated inventory capabilities, you can streamline the entire process, successfully monitoring inventory even across multiple stock locations.
In addition to upgrading your technologies, you may want to invest in some that you haven’t yet embraced. For example, if you are still using physical loyalty cards you may look to invest in a system that enables all loyalty points to be tracked online. This removes a lot of the frustrations felt by customers who may forget to bring their card with them to obtain their points, or who may accidentally lose their card with no way to prove how many points they had accumulated. By having a centralised loyalty system, you can ensure that your customer’s loyalty is properly tracked and rewarded, giving them a better experience with your store.
Evaluate and improve how you communicate with customers
Your business is nothing without your customers, and with even fiercer competition in the retail world expected in 2020, you must be prepared to push the envelope even more if you are to retain existing customers and attract new ones. Since customer demands are continuing to evolve at an exponential rate, forward-thinking retailers are planning ahead to ensure that they not only meet but exceed these by continuing to connect with customers in personal and relevant ways that add value to their shopping experience.
Some of the ways in which you can do this include:
- Set up email campaigns to turn gift buyers and recipients from the Christmas season into loyal customers themselves. Consider using direct marketing to re-target second time buyers.
- Tailor your marketing approach by segmenting customers based on their location, age, gender and purchase history. This makes your marketing efforts more likely to convert to those all-important sales. One of the easiest ways to do this is to integrate your reward program with your POS, which will help you to ensure that you offer the most relevant pricing and rewards.
- Consider what you can include to make your sales stand out from the rest. Whether you use beautiful, eco-friendly packaging, include hand-written notes or free samples or start to offer click-and-collect, there are many different ways in which you can improve your customer’s experience and make it more valuable and meaningful.
Boost staff morale
The staff are the backbone of any retail business and you will be hard-pushed to be successful without them backing you up. One of the best ways to ensure that 2020 is your best year yet is to boost your staff morale and one of the easiest ways to do this is to make them feel like valued employees. Positive praise and encouragement are well-known and proven methods of creating a happy workforce, but if you can, incentivize your team too. This doesn’t have to be expensive – simple rewards can be just as effective as big ones. How about an employee of the month board where the winner’s photo can be displayed? Movie theatre or restaurant vouchers are always popular and show that you value your employee’s downtime. Even just a simple bunch of flowers of bottle of wine will go a long way to showing your team how much you value them.
Plan your promotions in advance
One of the main reasons why retail promotions fail is a lack of planning and preparation. You need time to decide what offers you are going to have and who you are going to target with them, because, as we know, personalized promotions are far more effective at yielding results.
The main holidays such as Easter, Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Christmas are pre-determined, and this gives retailers the advantage of being able to plan in advance. Pop these into a retail promotions planner and add in any other events that you have either previously run that were successful, or those that you have in the pipeline.
You can also harness the power of your Point of Sale system when planning your promotions as you can use analytics to look back over previous performances and big sellers to help you determine which previous promotions to run again and what offers need to be revamped for the new year. If your POS has marketing integrations, you can then use these to automate some of the promotional processes for you.
Diversify your sales channels
The way in which customers like to make purchases has evolved tremendously in the last decade. No longer do many retailers make the majority of their sales simply through their bricks and mortar stores. Instead, consumers want to make purchases at times and locations that suit them – and unsurprisingly, this means shopping online. In fact, online shopping is growing so fast that the global online shopping market size is predicted to hit 4 trillion in 2020. This means that if your retail business doesn’t have an online presence, you are guaranteed to be missing out on a lot of potential customers.
If you haven’t yet explored the world of ecommerce, make 2020 your year to do so. Selling online is much easier than you might expect, particularly since many Point of Sale systems also integrate with online shopping platforms such as Shopify, simplifying the process even further.
If your customers already have the option of buying online through your website, you may want to diversify your sales channels even further by exploring the possibility of selling via social media. This includes Twitter, Facebook and of course Instagram. Instagram, or Insta for short, is a particularly useful tool for retailers since the platform is based solely around sharing images. You’ll need to pass the approval requirements –
- Complying with Instagram’s merchant agreement
- Set up a business profile on Instagram
- Be selling primarily physical products
- Connect your business profile to a Facebook catalogue
After this, you can tag the products that you feature which enables viewers to find them – and of course purchase them – easily!
(For tips on how to take AMAZING product photographs, check out our blog post!)
Start the year with an inventory count
Start the year as organised as possible by ensuring that you are on top of your inventory. The post-Christmas lull is usually a great time to get a fresh inventory done since more stores are at their quietest and may not have restocked from the festive season. And ditch the pen and paper and make your technology work for you instead. Digital inventory systems, such as those integrated with Hike will take a lot of the stress out of the process for you and ensure that accurate figures are recorded directly into the system. This way, whether you sell in-store, online or anywhere else, your inventory will update automatically. Hike even works across multiple locations meaning that you can keep track of stock across all of your stores, even when it is in transit!
Harness the power of your data
Any good Point of Sale will have powerful analytics that will help you to understand your business better so that you can positively influence your business. Many retailers only touch the surface of their POS system’s reporting capabilities and are missing out on valuable information that you could use to make 2020 your best ever year. Some of the biggest benefits of data analysis include:
The ability to improve your customer’s experience
Customer demands are ever-evolving and if you are to have any chance of meeting them, you need to use real data from your business to make customer-centric decisions. When you know which buyers are buying which products, data analytics can enable you to target your marketing efforts more effectively, improve customer experiences and satisfaction and boost loyalty to your business.
Improved operational performance
When you can monitor demand in real time, you can ensure that your bestselling products never go out of stock. Real time analytics make this possible. They also help you to spot popular items, seasonal trends and forecast for specific events such as Christmas or Black Friday and prepare your inventory accordingly.
With the right tools and technology at your disposal and plenty of time to prepare, you can ensure that 2020 is your biggest and most successful retail year yet! For more information about Point of Sale systems and how they can support your retail business in 2020, please get in touch with us here at Hike to start your free, 14-day trial.