Retail is a sector that was negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many shoppers turning to the internet for all of their purchases. Finding convenience in buying products from home has resulted in the online shopping trend continuing to grow, with 91% of consumers saying they intend to increase online spending.
However, anyone considering a retail startup should not be discouraged by this as there is undoubtedly still a place for independent retail businesses.
The key to running a successful retail business is finding a way to stand out from the competition and the way to do this is by embracing methods that, in your customers’ minds, make you better than your competitors.
There are many ways to make your store stand out for the right reasons:
1. Prioritize safety
Your store should be safe and accessible to all members of the public. It should be clean and fresh, and you should make provisions to allow customers to adhere to social distancing should they wish to and provide hand sanitizer for use where appropriate. Your store needs to be well-lit and ventilated and your choice of decor should ensure customers feel comfortable.
2. Embrace technology
There are so many ways in which you can make your customers’ experience better than your competitors and embracing technology is one of them. By engaging with your customer base through your social media platforms, you can begin to understand their wants and needs and ensure that you are able to deliver them.
You can further excite your customers with digital signage software. You could keep it low-key with a video screen pointed at the street outside rolling through available stock, displaying outfit options, special offers, or advertising your social media feeds. Or you could really ramp it up by refreshing the feed in real-time to match weather conditions or the demographic of passing shoppers to entice them in.
You could even place multiple screens around the store to catch your customers’ attention, prompting them to consider alternative items or directing them to the nearest checkout.
3. Optimize the customer experience
Your staff should all be enthusiastic, friendly, and helpful. They should be entirely committed to your values and promoting them continuously. They should be present but never overbearing and always efficient.
You can further improve the customer experience by ensuring that your POS system is efficient, updating your inventory in real-time to prompt re-ordering of popular items as soon as you hit a low stock trigger level so that you never lose a customer because the item they want is out of stock.
If your customers know that they can always get what they want, backed with a pleasant experience, when they come to you, they are likely to remain loyal.
4. Manage your finances
Your business will only be successful if it remains profitable, so you must invest in purchasing software and accounting software to accurately manage your income and expenditure, help you control your costs, and account for every cent and inventory. This is not only important for tax purposes but it will reduce your accountancy fees if you can present your data to your accountant in a compatible format that aligns with their choice of data management software.
5. Market your business well
By knowing who your customers are and what they want, you can target your marketing and promotions to appeal to the exact type of people that you wish to attract or retain. You could make use of loyalty programs, offering discounts or special offers to regular visitors or attract new customers through competitions, offering freebies, and increasing brand awareness through carefully planned use of appropriate social media platforms.
You could consider collaborating with other businesses or social media influencers to grow your reach and potentially reduce your costs. This method of marketing is often successful at attracting new customers who may previously not have been aware of your brand or values.
Consumers are always keen to support a business whose values align with their own so by collaborating with like-minded businesses or individuals, you can both benefit from the increased reach and influence that this delivers.