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5 action steps to set up your retail business for success in 2019

The start of the year is the best time to reflect on your business, set up new systems, and take steps that will establish the foundation of your success in the next 12 months and beyond.

So, before you jump into “business as usual” for 2019, take a bit of time to do the following tasks. You might just come up with ideas and actions that’ll propel your retail business to new heights.

1. Get to know the latest retail trends

Knowing what consumers are into and how their tastes are evolving will help you determine the direction in which to take your business. If you’re a fashion retailer, for example, then knowing the latest runway trends will help influence your buying decisions.

It’s also important to keep abreast with trends that are affecting the retail industry as a whole. Keeping up with retail technological advancements as well as the changing behaviour of shoppers will allow you to continuously cook up ways to stay relevant.

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of resources that you can tap into when it comes to retail trends. Many thought leaders, trade publications, and solution providers release their retail forecasts this time of year, so grab a retail trends report (or two) to educate yourself on what’s going on in the industry.

2. Update your business listings, website, and other customer-facing collateral

Go through your business documents, listings, and other materials (particularly customer-facing ones such as signage, marketing collateral, and your website) and see to it that they’re updated for the coming year.

Swap out any mentions of 2018 for 2019, and take this opportunity to update the content of your website, collateral, and docs if necessary. If you opened a new store, changed your phone number, won any awards, worked with new partners, or did anything noteworthy in the past year, include that information on your website, online listings, or even your LinkedIn profile.

Remember, people often rely on the content you put out there to form impressions about your business and ultimately decide if they want to buy from you, so it’s essential that you keep them up-to-date.

3. Analyse the previous year’s data

The start of the year is a great time to analyse your store’s performance over the previous twelve months. Set aside a few hours and generate sales and inventory reports from the past year.

We recommend looking at the following reports:

  • Product Performance Report – This report gives you an overview of how different products and categories performed over the past 12 months. Such information can be valuable when it comes making ordering and merchandising decisions.
  • Sales Summary – This report sheds light on your sales for a given time period. Your sales report should also show your cost of goods sold, gross profit, margins, and tax, so you can have a better idea of how much money went back to your business in 2018.
  • Sales Report Per Customer or Customer Group – Who are your VIP shoppers? Which customer groups or segments are the most profitable? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you refine your marketing strategy and messaging to ensure that you’re reaching the right customers. What’s more, you can use the information from this report to personalise the shopping experience of your customers.
  • Sales Report Per Employee – Being aware of how each employee is performing can help you make key staffing decisions. When you know who your top performers are, you can reward them accordingly. On the other hand, if you know that certain team members aren’t performing up to your standards, then you can find ways to train or encourage them to set up.

Note: most modern EPOS software should have reporting capabilities that can provide you with the above information, so check if your retail platform has these reports. If not, consider upgrading to a system that has more robust reporting features.
And that brings us to our next point…

4. See if your tech can use an upgrade

If you’re still using manual processes or legacy software, your new year’s resolution for 2019 should be to upgrade your systems.
Why? For starters, outdated software can hinder your growth. Manual systems and legacy software often don’t have the capabilities that modern shoppers expect from retailers. Services such as click-and-collect, online ordering, and personalisation, are quickly becoming table stakes in retail, and you can’t offer those features using outdated technology.

Security is another big issue. Solution providers typically stop offering support and updates for legacy systems, which means they’re not equipped to handle new methods of hacking.

Security breaches are incredibly expensive and they’ll cost you more than money. Research has shown that 70% of consumers will stop doing business with a company after a breach, so you’ll likely lose a good chunk of your customers if you ever fall victim to a security attack.

Avoid all that by keeping your retail tech up-to-date. If you’re still using manual or legacy software, then start looking into modern solutions (like cloud-based apps) that can replace those outdated systems.

If you’re already using modern software, always install and run the latest version to ensure that you’re caught up with new features and security updates.

5. Recall why you first got into this business

Last but not least, do a bit of reflection on why you’re in business. Often, entrepreneurs get too caught up in the hustle and their day-to-day tasks that they lose sight of their “why.” If you find yourself in this situation, then take a few hours — even a day or two — to remember why you started your retail shop in the first place.

Did you establish a store because you wanted to share your passion for art or fashion? Are you on a mission to provide people with well-made items that they can cherish? Go back to those roots and reflect on them.

Depending on where you are with your business and how it performed, taking this step may prod you to make changes. For instance, if your business isn’t living up to its original mission, then you can brainstorm ideas on how to correct course. Or, if you find that your aspirations have changed, then you can work on refining your strategy so your business can evolve.

Whatever the case, the only way to generate a plan of action is to sit down and reflect on your business. So, put some time in your calendar to do just that.

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