Every retailer wants to stay a step ahead of their competitors and be the first for that new product, service or sales channel. But how do you do it? Here’s my (short) to do list to help you stay ahead of the curve and a home grown innovation as well as global trends.

First, my to do list.

1. Be an expert in your own business
Know your own numbers. How often do you look at your EPOS reports/sales figures in some detail? Do you just look at the headline figures for sales? Seek out the trends in your own business. Which product groups are growing, which are declining? What are your seasonal trends? Are they changing year on year? By knowing your own business inside out means that you’ll be able to more easily spot the opportunities that you can take advantage of for your business.

2. Know what’s happening
Be aware of what’s going on in the business life of your area, shop openings and closures, new brands; also changes to the non-retail business landscape, companies taking on more people, relocations or new businesses coming into the area. Know what your competitors are up to – both in their shops and stores and online.

3. Improve your work rate!
No this doesn’t mean work harder! In the football sense of the word, improve your work rate off the ball. This means non sales based activity: attending events, networking, trade associations, Chambers of Commerce etc. All this activity needs extra effort but you will be rewarded with vital knowledge of what is going on in other businesses that could affect yours. Use of social media comes into this as it is mainly about raising a level of awareness for your business rather than direct selling.

4. Keep up to date with the latest innovations
You may not want/need the latest whizbang technological innovation but it’s good to know what’s new.

  • Set up a Google Alert which will monitor the web for interesting content based on key words you input and send you a weekly digest.
  • Watch your social media and follow innovators in your field.
  • You Tube is a great resource for innovations as companies love telling the world about them!
  • Follow retail blogs!

So what’s new?
Globally V-commerce is the new technological thing for retail. But this time it will primarily help sales in store. Virtual Reality is ideal for the home improvement business. Holoroom enables you to see the new sofa/wardrobe/kitchen in your own house whilst you are still in the showroom.  You could also wander through your favourite store without leaving your own sofa! More info on this from the LA Times – where else!
Locally Pointy is a new Irish app which makes things easy to find in local shops. It catalogues your inventory so that it is searchable on the web. A Pointy box brings customers to your shop door by automatically displaying your products online and you can trial it for free for 3 months. More info on www.pointy.com
With the demise of another big box retailer (BHS) on the cards there has never been a better time for small independent retailers to get ahead of the curve.

Happy retailing!

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