So it’s 2018! Christmas has come and gone and it was good, bad or indifferent for retailers depending on which analysis you read.
How was it for your business? Christmas Eve falling on a Sunday made for an unpredictable trading pattern. The usual last minute rush didn’t seem to appear as the shops were strangely calm on that day – except for the off licences which were manic! Most people finished work on Thursday or Friday so the rush was spread out over 2-3 days. The queues for Brown Thomas on St Stephen’s Day showed that the thirst for bargain hunting was alive and kicking from 5.30am for when the doors opened at 9am.
Now step back from all the seasonal madness and take a longer view of your business. The New Year is a good time to take stock of your business, look at what you didn’t get around to in 2017 and set some new goals for the year ahead.
Here are five changes to make in 2018:
1. Revamp your shop layout and merchandising.
Take a hard look at your layout and think about when you last made any serious changes. You are very familiar with it and so are your regular and loyal customers. So change things around:
- What does the customer see when they walk in the door?
- Have you got any focal points?
- Do your focal points work?
- Where are the upcoming trends in your business and are you promoting them?
- Make better use of the fixtures you have
- Declutter your layout as you squashed in more ranges for Christmas trading
2. Reward your loyal customers
Pareto’s 80/20 principle shows that 80% of your sales will come from 20% of your customers. Think about rewarding that 20% with something special – a loyalty programme, a preview of new stock, a special shopping event, discounts when they spend over a certain amount or incentives if they introduce a new customer to your shop. You’ll probably think of more that will suit your business.
3. Update your online presence
Get into 2018 by updating your website and make sure it’s mobile friendly. 70% to 80% of customers will access your website from their mobile phone so make sure yours looks good. Is your social media up to date? Take a look at the analytics for each platform to make sure it’s delivering for you. Concentrate your efforts on one or two that work for you and delete the other accounts. Can your customers find you? Look at registering with www.pointy.ie the app that makes it easy to find things in local shops.
4. Implement some new technology
There is a bewildering array of technology out there for retailers large and small. Start with looking at what you have and whether it still serves its purpose. Look at where your knowledge gaps are and what would make your life easier and more profitable. Sales recording and stock control are two big issues for any small business. Look for solutions specific to your type of business and don’t be intimidated by the tech speak of the sales people! Develop a plan for your business, one small change or new piece of technology could make a big difference to your business.
5. Update your skills and learn some new ones.
Take stock of your skill set, think about those courses you meant to take in 2017 but you were too busy to do. Here are a few headings for you to consider.
- Layout and merchandising
- Growing your sales
- Know your product, your market and your competitors
- Customer experience
- Communications branding, marketing, promotions, social media
- Managing yourself and other people
- Buying, pricing and profitability
I’m developing a pilot online training and consultancy learning tool that fits in with the busy lives of small independent retailers. It is full of tips and up to the minute information for your business and includes worksheets so that you can apply the knowledge in your shop straight away. Included in each module is a one hour individual consultation (either online or face to face) to support you in making the right changes for your business.