Being a small business retailer isn’t easy. You’re competing — not just against the Big Box players — but also against other small retailers. You need every advantage you can get. Here are 10 things you need to be on top of in order to compete effectively.
1. Smart Signage
That hand drawn sign isn’t going to cut it if you want to get the attention of passersby. Invest in good signage that is visually appealing and professional looking. The good news is you don’t have to go overboard in hiring a designer to get good business signs. Online sign companies like Store Signs provide customizable templates that fulfill many retailers’ needs, without the cost of a fancy designer and printer.
2. Scalable POS
If you have plans to grow your business, you need a point of sale system that will grow with you. These days, it’s all about cloud. Cloud based POS helps retailers get instant updates and keep their information synchronized across all systems. MerchantOS is a good example of a POS company catering to small biz.
3. Interesting Products
If you haven’t updated your inventory with new and exciting merchandise in a while, I’m willing to bet you’ve seen a slowdown in sales. If your regulars come in only to see the same products you had displayed the week before (and the month before), you’re not giving them reason to come back. Mix it up with new and innovative products.
4. Happy Employees
There’s nothing that will kill your business faster than a glum cashier. Make sure you’re hiring the right people that greet customers happily, rather than snarling and going back to their iPhones.
5. A Solid Manager
If you’re not acting as the manager, make sure you hire someone with a ton of experience, who lives retail. This is someone who will be vested in the success of your store.
6. A Good Location
Never underestimate the importance of accessibility. Before you rent space in a strip mall with a hard-to-enter driveway, consider how easy (or not) it might be for customers to get to you. Aim for areas that get a lot of foot traffic, such as one by a restaurant.
7. Rabid Fans
You’re not alone in marketing your store. Your repeat customers, those rabid fans that jump on Facebook to share their latest purchase from you, will help as well. Cater to them and acknowledge them for their efforts.
8. A Plan
Where do you want your store to be in a year? Five? Ten? Consider what you want your business to look like in the future. Do you see additional locations opening up? New product lines? Write it all down and set goals to get there.
9. Profits Back into the Company
It’s tempting to take the profits for yourself with your retail business, but do put some back in for that “to do” list you’ve been putting off, like getting new carpet or placing larger orders to cut your per-unit costs.
Just like with any business, you need patience to see success. It won’t happen overnight, and it will require a ton of elbow grease from you. But you can find your niche and succeed with your retail business. Just give it time.
Photo: Phil Manker on Flickr