Wednesday, December 31, 2008


During the past year we have discussed Loyalty Programs, Gift Card Programs, PCI Credit Card Compliance Issues, Social Web Sites, Web Optimization, Various In-Store and Outside Marketing Opportunities, Your Customers, Our Customers, Technology and Video Surveillance. All of these are very important topics when reviewing your business past performance and future plans. But what if you are simply unsure of what is the 'most important' in terms of how to survive and thrive in this turbulent time? Is there one area that is more important than others? Unfortunately, they all require some of your time and each will pay it's own dividends over time.

Is there really any such thing as an 'Industry Expert when we are talking about your specific business type or model? I would be inclined to the argument that you understand your particular business better than any 'expert'. However there are standard processes that can apply across many models and insure added success beyond the basics of daily routines. Many times as business owners we are so involved in the daily operations of our business - i.e. paying bills, making out orders, selling to customers, handling payroll etc. that we feel there just is not enough time in the day to do anything else. This is where the experts might be able to assist us in finding the 'focus' that can help our business 'survive or thrive'.
I would be the first to admit that I am no business guru with all the answers. Even after more than 10 years in the technology field and 3 decades in retail and hospitality, there is more I don't know than what I do know. New processes and procedures, new technologies, new marketing avenues are arriving faster than I can keep up with them. So I read the tech journals, industry journals, newsletters, email promotions and sometimes I see something that may help YOU!

Shari Waters writes a column on for Retailing and has a list of 'Top 10 Ways to Better Your Business' that I thought was worth sharing. Each subject has a link to learn more about Shari's list in more detail. I strongly advise taking a moment to review it.

Top 10 Ways to Better Your Business
By Shari Waters,
Retailers all have the same basic path to success. That is, we must increase sales and reduce expenses in order to improve profitability. The goal is the same but how we achieve each milestone may vary. Take a look at the following ways to better your business.
1. Reduce Shrinkage1You may believe employee theft and shoplifting aren't a problem in your business, but simple pricing mistakes can also cost retailers quite a bit. The average shrink percentage in the retail industry is about two percent of sales. Learn to identify and reduce sources of shrink.
More: Retail Loss Prevention2
2. Increase Sales Opportunities3Whether you're up-selling to a customer or planning an expansion into a multi-channel environment, retailers should learn to notice and take advantage of every possible opportunity to sell.
More: Turn Returns into Sales4
3. Improve Customer Service5One easy way to better your business is to improve customer service. Retailers should develop customer-friendly policies, train employees to provide outstanding customer service, and learn how to create customer loyalty.
More: Customer Service in Your Retail Store6
4. Add New Products or Product Lines7One way to keep customers returning to your shop is by offering new and exciting products. When adding new products or expanding product lines, keep in mind that not only should there be a demand for the item, but it must also be profitable and something you enjoy selling.
More: Choosing Products to Sell8
5. Buy From Vendors with Best Value9The vendor who sales an item at the lowest price isn't necessarily the vendor you want to buy from. When selecting a supplier, consider shipping, terms of sale and other factors to determine the vendor with the best value. These small details may erode a retailers bottom line.
More: Buying Wholesale Merchandise10
6. Increase Marketing11How often have you said you can't afford to advertise right now? Maybe once business picks up you'll place an ad. Or maybe you're holding those advertising dollars until the holiday shopping begins. Either way, you could be losing potential customers right now. Begin tailoring your marketing efforts to your target audience. If you don't spread the word, no one will know you exist.
More: 50 Marketing Ideas for Retailers12
7. Lower Expenses13To better your business and return more profits to your bottom line, learn where you can cut operating expenses. Look around your shop. Could buying instead of leasing save money? Are you outsourcing something you could easily do?
More: Reducing Retail Business Expenses14
8. Get Out of the Store15Attend a trade show or other retail expo. These conferences are developed in order to give retail owners, buyers and managers the opportunity to meet existing suppliers, conduct business meetings, network with others in retail and investigate new products.
More: Tips for Trade Shows16
9. Add One New Time or Money Saving Piece of Technology17Every time we invest in a new piece of technology, we're always amazed at the results and wonder how we lived without it for so long. Find one new money or time saving piece of technology to implement in your store this year. For example, if you are using manual cash registers, consider a POS system.
More: Retailing Equipment & Technology18
10. Provide Training for StaffOnce you've determined how to best implement the nine ways to better your business listed above, pass that information on to your staff. Your retail employees are the ones on the front-line every day and should be trained to reduce shrink, improve customer service and increase sales opportunities.