The reason they come to me is whilst they usually have passion, drive, enthusiasm and resources (time, investment funds etc) the one thing they lack is the expertise/know how to get started…Well that’s exactly what I can add!
So, what are the key ingredients to becoming a scalable retail enterprise?
1. EPOS with a Retail Management System
One thing clients quickly learn is that a decent EPOS system is the key to so many processes that enable them to better understand the performance dynamics of their business, and therefore what actions need to be taken to replicate success.
EPOS typically provides all product information set up, stock and financial postings and transactional reporting / analytics. It also, usually comes with a BIG capital investment…but it doesn’t have to.
2. E-commerce capability with full integration to EPOS
The second thing we tend to uncover is either the missed opportunity of not having any online transactional capability OR that the website is not delivering as much as it could.
In this day and age it is practically inexcusable for anyone serious about retailing NOT to have a decent ecommerce capability. I’d also suggest you should select an ecommerce product which offers full synchronisation with your EPOS. I am a great believer in reducing manual intervention and duplication of effort – so an ecommerce that was based on EPOS would be ideal – enabling a single central source of product data as well as all pricing, promotions and stock availability information.
PS – be mobile enabled…
3. Quality branding – across all customer touch points – online, in store and on shelf!
Smaller retailers tend to shy away from investing in quality graphic design – even though the visual merchandising and product presentation both in store and online can make the difference to conversions.
Whilst it may seem unlikely at the beginning of your retail journey your brand could at some point in future be a household name – remember Mr Marks and Mr Spencer started out with a penny bazaar… if you can create a quality brand identity, your business’ fingerprint, that makes your business instantly recognisable to your customers, online or in store, it will add value to your business and help your customers to remember you!
4. Being easily found for what you sell where you sell it…
There is only so many customers you can attract from passing trade, so there will be a time when you need to focus on your marketing. Search marketing is probably the most cost effective, if undertaken properly. Search marketing enables you to attract new customers – because if a consumer has to search for a product they don’t naturally consider your retail business as the place to go for their needs (yet!)
Your search marketing approach can be implemented at the local level – leveraging your store locations and the natural catchment area and also at the national level (assuming you offer nationwide coverage for your online sales…). The two critical ingredients would be local internet marketing and ecommerce SEO…
5. Going Social – getting loyal customers to talk about your brand, to review your products and recommend you to their friends…
Finally, you cannot afford to ignore the power of social media and social networks. Consumers are influenced by peer group review considerably more than they are by advertising or marketing messages. Make it easy for consumers to engage in a conversation with your brand – deal with negativity swiftly and appropriately, thank people for good feedback.
A retailer should be taking advantage of facebook, twitter, blogging, YouTube, Foursquare and relevant review sites to name a few.
Clare will be speaking at this year's Entrepreneur Country Forum. To register please visit http://www.entrepreneurcountryforum.com or register below: