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How To Kickstart Your 2019 In Retail

The new year marks a fresh start for your business, and a chance to outdo your achievements of the last twelve months. Even if your business had performed well in 2018, there is always room to beat your own targets, especially with the increase in online sales. Starting the year strong can give you the motivation to continue on the same level for the rest of the year. Here’s how you can ensure the best possible start to 2019 for your retail business.

Streamline your processes

The “new year, new me” mentality doesn’t only have to apply to your personal life. If office equipment is on its last legs, this presents you with the perfect chance to get new hardware. Likewise, the busy Christmas period should have highlighted if any software or processes need to be updated and streamlined, just in time for new collections to arrive in the wake of January sales.

One way to streamline your business processes is by finding an integrated software package to look after every part of your business, from product manufacturing right up until the point of sale. Implementing an enterprise system for your retail business can help you manage things like marketing, merchandising, and the supply chain in one system. This makes it much easier to complete basic processes like replenishing stock, deciding what items should be included in any promotions, and altering pricing.

SAP systems, for example, are highly customisable, meaning that they can be built to directly suit the needs of your business. However, this can be a complex task, as SAP systems are also highly technical. As a result, you may need to work with an SAP recruitment specialist, such as Eursap, to hire an experienced employee to implement the system for your business. This can either be on an ad-hoc basis, to get the system up and running and teach you the basics, or as a full-time staff member who focuses on keeping your business running smoothly.

Implementing SAP software also provides you with the perfect opportunity to complete a detailed stock-take of all your products, so you know what you have in stock going forward in the new year. By inputting information into the system to automate your stockroom, you can immediately get a clear idea of what you have in stock, and what you need to order more of.

Increase customer engagement to help drive sales

Customer engagement and customer service both work to increase sales in any business. Research has found that excellent customer service leads to a 92% retention rate of customers, while 84% of organisations that improved their customer experience also underwent an uptake in revenue. Take the opportunity to get in contact with your customers and add a personal touch to any interactions with them, to try and encourage more sales, and build up a dedicated base of repeat customers.

If you’ve recently had an influx of new shoppers—perhaps newcomers who discovered your store over the Christmas period—try and turn them into loyal customers by getting in touch with email blasts or newsletters inviting them to shop with you again. If you didn’t manage to get their contact information, the new year is a good time to put a marketing plan together in order to get customer data or implement a loyalty and reward scheme.

You may choose to offer personalised loyalty rewards by analysing how each customer shops. One-size-fits-all newsletters can work to drive customers away as they won’t be targeting what each customer wants. In fact, personalised missives improve the likelihood of a customer opening an email by 26%, and generate a 760% increase in email revenue, according to research by Campaign Monitor. However, this needs to go beyond simply including their first name in the subject box, and could include things like recommending products similar to recently purchased items, or new collections in styles that the customer has frequently bought in the past.

Sending out behaviour-triggered emails is another option you could take to improve customer engagement. For example, a welcome email to a customer when they first sign up to your newsletter serves to greet them personally, and could even include an initial discount code to use on their first purchase, which helps to guarantee that all-important first sale. Similarly, if a customer doesn’t complete a purchase, you may choose to send out an email reminding them that there are still items in their cart, helping to drive the sale even after the customer has left your website.

Consider offering retail as a service

One of the rising trends in retail is to offer more services within your store beyond simply giving customers a chance to buy your products. The rise in e-commerce is shrinking the high street, so more businesses are trying to incentivise customers to physically shop in-store by offering experiences and value. For example, Topshop’s flagship branch on Oxford Street provides additional services in the form of concession stands, such as a hair salon, manicurists, and even food and drink. Small business owners can rent a space in Topshop in order to give their business exposure, which also encourages customers to visit the store as opposed to shopping online.

More flagship stores are offering these little extras for customers in order to increase footfall—Timberland retread boots, David Clulow opticians fix glasses, and Nike now even offer trainer dry cleaning. But it’s not just the big global brands offering this. Shoreditch-based independent concept store AIDA, for example, combines Scandi designs in men and womenswear, as well as homeware, while also including a cafe in the front of the store. This helps to draw customers in and retain them for as long as possible as a method of improving sales. You don’t necessarily have to open a whole cafe, but hosting various experiences in-store throughout the year can help to boost sales.

Despite the ever-building pressure on retail stores to outperform online shopping, it is still possible to start 2019 on a strong foot. Streamlining your business processes, boosting customer engagement, and offering something outside of your core products can all work to encourage footfall and increase sales.

Claire Preece

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