In the current business landscape, running a physical shop can be a major undertaking and a real challenge to keep going. With competition online, declining footfall on the high street, and an uncertain economic climate, retailers of bricks and mortar shops have to be more innovative and focused than ever if they want to run a shop that is going to be successful.
Diversify Your Income
The footfall on many high streets is falling as more customers turn to online shopping, thanks to the convenience. If you’re relying solely on sales from your bricks and mortar store, find some other ways to make money from your shop to help you maximise your income rates. Set up an online store too, so your customers can browse your products online and order them to have delivered. Offer free delivery if they opt to collect in person from the store. They might be tempted by other items when they come in to collect.
Fit an ATM. People can take cash out to spend in store, and you can earn some money on the surcharges of the ATM. Remember to get your ATM serviced on a regular basis so you can keep it in good working order.
Add extra services that can charge for. You could offer a gift wrapping service if you sell gifts. If you sell electronics, offer an installation service. Offer courses in how to use your products, whether that’s art supplies, or computers.
A delivery service can be a good way to earn a little extra cash and keep your customers happy. If you sell bulky items, or people tend to buy a lot of products at once, offering a service to have it delivered can make a real difference to attracting customers to spend more. Offer same day or next day delivery as much as you can, and make sure your delivery is reliable. To offer this, you’ll need good stock levels, and a reliable delivery company.
Get on Social Media
You need to have a presence on as many social media platforms as you can manage to run successfully. Set up accounts for your store on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Don’t be tempted to post the same content across all your channels though. These different platforms have different kinds of audiences, so make sure you are tailoring the content to that audience.
For example, Instagram is very visual, so use it to share images of your more aesthetically pleasing products and displays. Facebook’s business pages are ideal for sharing information like opening hours, contact details, and a map of where to find you. Use Facebook’s shop tools to create another place where people can buy from you. Twitter is a great place to share offers, deals and sales.
Don’t take on more platforms than you can manage. A badly maintained presence is worse than none at all, so only take on what you can manage.
Focus Your Product Range
It can be tempting to try to maximise potential earnings by stocking as many different things as you can. This is a bad idea, as it makes your store seem confused and people won’t be sure what they should be coming to you for. Spend some time thinking hard about what you want to sell, and edit your product range to a smaller range of items. This means you can make sure that everything you sell is the best it can be, and that you can build a reputation for being experts in the range of products you decide to sell. With a more specific range of products, you can also target your advertising more effectively so your marketing only reaches the right people who are actually interested in what you sell.
Get Good Management in Place
You can’t be in the store all the time. Sometimes, you’ll need a break, a vacation, or a sick day. Hire a store manager who can take care of the store when you’re not there. Make sure it’s someone you trust, and who can effectively manage your team, keep them motivated, and can deliver excellent customer service. It’s worth spending the money on a manager’s salary, so you can take the time off you need to avoid getting spread too thin and becoming burnt out.
Commit to Customer Service
The right customer service encourages people to buy and can help to create a loyal customer base. The trick in a small store is to get the balance right between helping a customer and making them feel crowded. Greet your customers as they come in and offer help to find what they need, but back off to let them browse alone if they don’t want your help. Following a customer around the store trying to help makes them feel pressured to buy and they’re likely to leave without buying anything and then not returning. One of the advantages of having a small shop is that you aren’t being pushed to reach certain sales targets by a central management, meaning you can focus on actually serving each customer and helping them instead of feeling pressure to just make as many sales as possible. Offer a more personal service and you can build customer loyalty, with customers who come back again and again to spend more money with you.
Running a physical store can be a challenge, but there’s with some smart choices, the right marketing, and treating customer service as king, you can make it work. Make sure you are addressing a local need and doing everything you can to offer something unique that is attractive to customers in a way that encourages to spend money and keep returning to your business. Invest in the right marketing to reach your local area and find as many ways as you can to increase the profits of your business. By doing this, you can build a strong reputation locally, and keep your business going strong for many years to come.