A new year signals a fresh start. For many people, Jan. 1 offers a chance to assess the past year while looking ahead at the next 365 days. It’s an opportunity to set some goals, whether it’s getting fit, finally taking that career leap, or traveling more. So, while you make a list of personal New Year’s resolutions, why not do the same for your business?
According to a 2015 study conducted at the Dominican University of California, writing down goals and sharing them with others significantly increased the likelihood of achieving them. An impressive 76% of participants who wrote down business goals, set actionable commitments, and sent updates to friends reported reaching that goal at the end of the study. Comparably, only 35% of participants who kept their goals to themselves achieved success.
“My study provides empirical evidence for the effectiveness of three coaching tools: accountability, commitment, and writing down one’s goals,” said Dr. Gail Matthews, who led the study.
Setting New Year’s resolutions for your retail business not only forces you to think about how you want it grow, but also requires you to consider what steps you need to take in order to get there. It’s a chance to look beyond the dollars and cents on your year-end report, and take actionable steps to making your business dreams become reality. And it’s a simple step to take when you’re already doing business planning for the year ahead.
So with that in mind, we outline 10 new year’s resolutions every retailer should consider making for 2017.
1. Join Social Media
Image Credit: Yesmail via AdWeek
It’s never too late to join social media, and if you’re not using it to promote your brand and connect with customers, you’re losing out. According to Pew Research Center, more than 50% of adults are on social media and use more than one network. Comparably, 91% of brands use two or more social media channels. While studies have shown that social media drives only a small portion of online sales, there are a number of other benefits to using social media for business.
A presentation by KPMG’s Willy Kruh at the 2016 Retail Council of Canada’s Store conference discussed why retailers should pay attention to Millennials, or those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s.
Eighty-four percent of Millennials don’t trust advertising. They trust their friends, they trust blogs, they trust social media.
Kruh added that most Millennials receive their news and reviews through the likes of Facebook and Twitter.
A social media presence enables retailers to court Millennial shoppers actively. It also allows businesses to receive immediate feedback on products and engage with existing and potential customers. More than anything, it lets businesses promote themselves — for free, for the most part — to the world.
2. Get Tech Savvy
Whether you own an ecommerce business or brick-and-mortar store, technology is a vital component to success. Today’s shoppers use multiple platforms to make informed purchases — from online to mobile to retail –—and retailers that are most successful ensure they’re available to their customers on whatever channels they choose.
According to KPMG, 87% of Millennials use more than two tech devices a day and are driving more businesses to adopt mobile commerce and provide a seamless multi-channel experience. Just when you thought that adding an online store to your offline business was enough, 54% of Millennial shoppers indicated that they would rather pay for a purchase using a smartphone or mobile wallet than any other method. Embracing multi-channel selling is essential to ensuring your business is available to every shopper.
3. Meet Face To Face
When was the last time you met with one of your vendors, or if you own an ecommerce-only business, one of your customers? With all the talk of being on social media and maintaining an online presence, it’s equally as important to forge real relationships with the people that keep your business going.
While simply shooting off a quick email or text message might do the trick, meeting face-to-face with vendors and suppliers allows you to get to know the people behind the product. In turn, you can share their stories with customers in store and give deeper meaning to what’s being offered. According to Marketing magazine, Millennials shoppers are interested in learning about a company, its products and processes, and are more likely to make a purchase when this information is on hand.
If you run an ecommerce business, you may want to consider hosting a few pop-up shops throughout the year to add a human element to your brand and engage with customers offline. It’s also a chance to promote your company to people who don’t typically shop online.
4. Collect And Use Data
Today’s business owners have access to so much data that provides direct insight into what people are buying, who these people are, and how they prefer to shop. Examine customer loyalty program data. Learn about shopping habits and plan ways to personalize the customer experience. For e-retailers, study online and social media behavior, and gather insights into what ultimately prompts shoppers to make purchases.
5. Automate And Streamline
There are so many online resources to help automate and streamline your business these days that it’s unnecessary to do it all – plus, it’s impossible to do it all well. Consider what could run more smoothly, or what you wish you weren’t spending your time on. Then, look for online tools and apps to help you automate the process.
Image Credit: iDatix
One way to streamline your business is to go paperless. For example, if you or your employees spend a considerable amount of time digging through filing cabinets and boxes looking for invoices, timesheets, or inventory checklists, consider converting those documents into digital files. That way, pulling up a document requires only a quick search on a computer, and if you opt for cloud-based storage, those documents can be accessed anywhere on any device.
Another way to streamline your business is to adopt paperless inventory, which is made possible by using inventory management software through your point-of-sale system. Again, this helps you avoid having to print up inventory checklists and taking the time to cross-check the inventory against a spreadsheet.
6. Update Your Website
Regardless of what kind of retail business you’re running, it’s worth refreshing your website periodically. According to a 2015 report by Mintel, 70% of Americans seek out product information and reviews online before making purchases, and when it comes to Millennial shoppers, that number rises to 85%. Having an updated ecommerce site is the easiest way to encourage customers to browse your products and, ideally, make a purchase.
7. Delegate And Take Time Off
Small business owners effectively wear many hats, and often giving some of that up to others is the hardest thing to do. Delegating tasks to other employees not only frees up your time, it allows you to better focus your attention on the things that really count. Giving your employees extra responsibilities also helps them grow in their careers, and then when it’s time for you to take time off work, you can do it with peace of mind.
Running your business solo at the moment? Consider hiring your first employee to take some tasks off your plate.
8. Treat Your Employees And Yourself
Sometimes business owners can be so focused on the numbers that they forget there are people behind all those sales. Get to know your employees. After all, they’re the face of your business. Find time to grab coffee and have one-on-one chats with employees or plan an outing for everyone to join. You never know what hidden talents you might discover that could, in turn, benefit your business.
Remember to also treat yourself. Grant yourself time off, pay yourself fairly, and spend at least a few hours every day focused on something other than your business. Maintaining work-life balance is not only essential to your mental wellbeing, it allows you to re-energize and approach your business with fresh eyes.
9. Support Your Community
A business needs the support of its community in order to survive. Once you’ve experienced a bit of success, consider returning the favor to others. While donating to local charities is the most obvious way, there are other ways to show your support. Consider sponsoring a community sports team or event, or collecting donations on behalf of a cause.
You can also help your community by supporting other local businesses in the area, especially those that are non-competitive. Reserve a place on your website to link to other shops you love, or promote them on social media. If you own a brick-and-mortar store, consider reaching out to online retailers and hosting pop-up shops at your location.
10. Learn Something New
When is the last time you learned a new skill, whether it was relevant to your business or not? Make 2017 the year you invest in yourself, and go after a skill you’ve been meaning to develop. If you prefer to stick with business basics, that might mean taking a web development or SEO course to improve your ability to engage digitally, or perhaps you would like to bring your bookkeeping in-house, and a course could help you achieve that.
In terms of less obvious skills to develop, that might include joining a public speaking club so you can lead team meetings — or even, one day, stand on stage to make a presentation — with greater confidence. The possibilities are endless, and investing in yourself is always worth it.