5 Proven Methods To Grow Your Retail Business
Realizing the opportunities via e-commerce, I ran a very successful online store selling customized platforms for high-end home audio equipment. But after a few years, I simply lost interest, despite the exceptional income. The problem was that I had no connection to my customers other than an occasional email. There was no engagement, no interaction, and certainly no customer loyalty. I quickly learned that e-commerce could never replace the personalization, enjoyment, and experiences of working on Main Street. Seeing the local stores around me quickly gain more success (and happiness), I realized that owning a local business is still very, very possible if done with the right methods. One of the best ways to get your sales moving is through the use of a proper POS system for retail businesses.
Chapter 1: Compete By Not Competing
After consumers have done their research on the product the want to buy, they’ll go into a physical store to buy their product. There are two reasons why they’ll go to your brick-and-mortar store instead of buying online: they want to touch the product and they want customer support- an expert who will educate them about their product. Cool information, but how do you act on it? Well, since you know that consumers are more likely to come to local stores to buy their products, you can start by not cutting your prices just to compete with online retailers. Instead of slashing prices and decreasing your margins, use the prices charged by online and big-box retailers as the price point that you can work off of. Think of it this way: consumers are coming to your physical store because they want the hands-on purchasing experience, your expertise, and the ability to easily obtain an exchange or refund. This justifies your higher price. Making use of a proper POS system for retail businesses is a great way to improve your customers’ shopping experience and add value to your store.
Chapter 2: Manage Inventory
Poor inventory management is the fourth biggest killer of small businesses, says the SBA. Knowing exactly what you have on hand, at any given point in time, is a must for retailers. In my experience, I’ll tell you 3 reasons why:
1) Catching Theft Easily
As much as we don’t want to admit it, theft happens. 75% of employee crimes go unnoticed while 10% of employees are responsible for the majority of the theft that happens in your store. You need to know what you have at any given time so that you can identify discrepancies.
2) Having Adequate Insurance
Natural disasters can happen to anyone, whether it’s floods or fires. If you know what inventory you have at any given time, you’ll be able to have adequate insurance to keep you protected.
3) Prevent Getting Over-Taxed
Inventory represents 45% to 90% of all the expenses for a business. Knowing the value of your inventory will prevent over-reporting and provide credible documentation in the event of an audit or dispute. And trust me, when disputes happen, they consume time, energy, and expensive professional services such as attorneys and accountants. You don’t want to go there.
One of the easiest ways to directly address the issues of inventory management is to find a robust retail POS system that can provide the right features and tools to integrate your inventory and point of sale processes.
Chapter 3: Understand Your Customers
As a retailer, you need to know your customers like the back of your hand. You need to spit out statistics like, “The majority of my customers are from women between 30 and 40 years old and live in Town B.” Sure, some characteristics, such as gender, are easy to guess but other information might require some digging around- especially when nobody likes to just hand out personal data. I’ve seen this done very creatively. For example, getting information in return for a one-time discount or offering a loyalty program- these are all ways to get customer information, and can be facilitated by a business POS system. And of course, also ask your customer to follow you on your store’s social media platforms. People love to over-share on Facebook, Twitter, etc. so having them follow you can allow you to get more information on them. You can’t stop at just knowing who your customers are. Once you begin creating your customer list, you’ll need to collect data on what they do and how they behave. You’ll need to know their purchase histories and shopping behavior. Hopefully, your point-of-sale will do this for you, especially if you choose a system designed with retail businesses in mind. If not, this will require a bit of work- however, it will be well worth it in the end.
Chapter 4: Increase Sales
In today’s hyper-digital world, you absolutely need a website; but not just a website for the sake of having one. Your website needs to be an extension of your store’s identify, resembling the same vibe that you portray when someone visits your store. A phone number, email address, location, absolutely has to be on your website. It sounds obvious but I’ve seen so many stores neglect this, partly due to the seemingly complicated process of setting up an online storefront. With Bindo POS however, you have access to an online Bindo Storefront to help boost your digital presence. The last thing I want to say about going online, is that you also need to be mobile-friendly. Hopefully, your point-of-sale system will cover this for you. If not, I can’t emphasize how important it is to make this a high priority. 55% of mobile shoppers take action of their searches within one hour while 70% of mobile shoppers will immediately leave a store’s website if it is not mobile friendly!
You’ll also want to use product reviews to engage with customers. If they are saying something positive about you, thank them! If they are criticizing your product, use this as an opportunity to tell your side of the story in the event that the dissatisfied customer had unreasonable expectations, therefore decreasing the review’s impact. By resolving their issues, the customer may even change their review and re-visit your store because of how much you care. Sounds very ideal but I’ve witnessed this multiple times.
Trying to sell a larger variety of products is always an option when trying to increase sales. However, shelf space has its limits, and inventory is a financial investment that comes with risk. Today’s economy is much more service based than it was many years ago. Considering services that complement your niche may reveal some services that you could offer to generate additional revenue. The analytics and reporting tools provided by a comprehensive retail point of sale system is a great starting point for figuring out these opportunities for growth and expansion.
Chapter 5: Save Money, Time, & Stress Through Technology
Since SaaS is available from the Cloud, you have complete mobility for accessing your store’s data and software. This can save you a lot of time because you are not required to be at your store to run your business. And in terms of reducing stress, using a robust business POS software via SaaS gives you immediate access to your store’s activity, allowing you to check-up on sales, inventory, and even monitor your employees’ activity.
The applications designed for tablets are also super easy to learn and use. Well-designed point-of-sale platforms (like Bindo) mirror the look, function, and feel of everyday applications, virtually eliminating the learning curve. There are no more “special” commands to force your software to work the way you need it too- no more pressing some strange concoction of keys like Alt, Ctrl, F3! Because of the ease of tablet applications, you and your employees already understand how to use the software, even if it’s your first time using the software. This saves immense amounts of stress and frustrations and drastically reduces the time needed to train current and future employees.
More money, time, and stress can be saved with a robust, retail POS platform that handles gift cards, loyalty programs, and credit card processing. You’ll also want a software that can integrate and showcase your inventory online, and is capable of automatically tracking all the data needed to manage inventory, customers, suppliers, reporting, etc.
It is with my highest hope that the information inside this e-book will spark your creativity as a business owner in finding ways to grow your business. This document is not the be-all and end-all, nor is it a simple recipe that can be followed to magically grow your bank account. Instead, consider these tips, ideas, and recommendations as a foundation to evaluate your current business practices, inspiration for what you can achieve, and as a starting point to implement the changes needed so that you can grow your retail business.
Want to have access to more tips and methods to grow your retail business? Download the entire white paper here.