On the whole, I’m a fairly optimistic person. I believe there is always an opportunity to make your retail business a better business. However, as with 2016, 2017 is already promising to throw a tonne of uncertainty at your business. Uncertainty over Brexit, the Trump presidency and a whole host of other issues which we have no control over will make the New Year an interesting (if nothing else) period. My advice is to keep on your toes, stay agile and be ready to dodge those curveballs.
So how can a business, without the benefit of a crystal ball, stay ahead of the game in 2017? The following five New Year’s Resolutions should give you a head start.
- Build Relationships With New Suppliers: Fluctuating currency values and the costs of raw materials can have a significant impact on your suppliers’ prices and more importantly your margins. Building relationships with new suppliers will help you ensure you can keep your warehouse stocked with profitable product lines if and when existing suppliers let you down or become too expensive to deliver a profit. Remember, too many small businesses fail because they keep all their eggs in one basket – don’t let this be you.
- Build Relationship With New Partners: When margins are squeezed, smart retailers look towards other sources to help them drive efficiencies, save money and protect profits. Your packaging supplier, your logistic partner and your software vendors may all offer opportunities to save money if you keep your options open and are not afraid to switch things around a little. Good negotiation in this area may be the difference between profitability and being a busy fool.
- Test and Track Everything: Are all your marketing efforts working as they should? In this digital age, where everything can be tracked and analysed, you should never be in the situation where you don’t know if a strategy is driving a positive return. Even your marketplace sales should be analysed. You might find some products deliver very little return when sold on eBay or Amazon. Take the opportunity to optimise your profits by optimising what products you sell via individual marketplaces.
- Educate Yourself: Sadly, they don’t teach you how to run a successful online business at school. While there are a number of formal qualifications emerging in eCommerce and online marketing, many successful entrepreneurs are still self-taught. Thankfully, there are a number of great educational resources you can tap into, from great books, podcasts and online training seminars, which can help your lift your game and become a smarter retailer. My best advice is to follow the advice of people who you aspire to be like. However, you’ll also be wise to remember that anyone who offers you an “easy” solution, is probably selling you a “snakeskin oil” solution.
- Find New Routes to Market: The more places you distribute your products, the greater chance they have of being found and purchased. Take care when selecting new opportunities to understand the cost of sale each new sales venue offers your business. Some opportunities might be deemed too risky due to high seller fees or inhibitive set-up costs. If you’re looking for a low cost, high impact opportunity SKU Cloud can help you target new customers via its eCommerce partner network (which includes the UK’s largest independent online marketplace Flubit). Set up is free, there are no listing or final value sales fees and it is fully integrated with a wide range of multi-channel eCommerce software solutions including ChannelAdvisor, Volo, SellerExpress and Linnworks.
How will you ensure your retail business thrives in 2017?