Retail businesses have been impacted by this year's economic disruptions, but opportunities still exist for businesses to optimize, survive and thrive. Here are five strategies you can adopt today.
Founder/CEO of TravelerPlus
It has never been easier to start a retail business. Whatever your interests are or whatever the market you want to serve is, a wide range of developments have made it possible to launch a retail business much more efficiently than say, 10 years ago.
First, white label manufacturing has grown exponentially. You can get products of any type made and shipped to you without any branding so you can put your materials on them and sell as your own unique product. If you want to build a completely custom product, you can do that by outsourcing the manufacturing. You can also utilize drop shipping if you’d prefer to focus on marketing alone, which is something that social media and online e-commerce platforms have made very efficient.
But starting a retail business is completely different from growing and scaling one, and the truth is that most businesses will fail after only a short period. As the world economy enters a period of turbulence, that number will likely increase, but retail businesses that implement effective strategies will survive and even grow. Here are 5 tips to help you do just that:
Optimize your supply chain
Supply chain disruption has been a major issue for companies of all sizes since the beginning of this year, as a result of restrictions to transport locally and internationally. Despite that, businesses with more resilient supply chains have been able to remain operational and in stock. There are many aspects you can work to optimize, such as the location where you manufacture or purchase from, the amount of stock you keep on hand, and transportation methods. Review how the current situation has impacted you and figure out where you can make changes to improve your system.
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This applies primarily to your website, but it can also be extended to your physical space if you have a store. What is the user experience like when people get in touch with your brand for the first time? Is it easy to navigate your website, check through the products and place an order? Several studies have shown that the fewer steps needed to take an action, the higher the conversion rate will be. If you have to redesign your website or store (online or offline) to make it easy for people to find what they need and place an order quickly, get a professional to help you out. The results will be worth the expense.
Most businesses have terrible customer service, and most customers take the quality of service into consideration before purchasing from or recommending a store. That’s a clear opportunity to distinguish yourself from your competitors by offering the best customer service possible. The process begins from your hiring practices: Ill-mannered people cannot deliver consistently great customer service. Be sure you give your staff extensive training as well, and ask your customers for feedback so you can identify areas where improvement is needed quickly.
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Every brand is on social media nowadays, and it remains a strong way to get the word out about your business and get traffic to your website. When it comes to actually converting people from visitors to customers though, the best options are e-mail and calls. Both of them have a personal element that is difficult to replicate on social media, especially if you utilize effective marketing techniques. For email, be sure to segment your email list and write highly targeted emails. Targeting is key with phone calls too.
Outdoing your competitors should be one of your goals, but you must not close your eyes to the opportunities that exist for collaboration with other brands. Brands that sell complementary products may find success in working together to cross-promote each other to their respective audiences. A tie brand and a sock brand, for instance, might send traffic to each other's sites because people looking for one item may be interested in the other. Be sure to do this with caution, however, to ensure that you don’t unwittingly promote a potential competitor.
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