Retail business growth doesn’t just mean expanding inventory or opening new locations. It involves embracing technology to help you scale and meet changing customer expectations.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to retail business growth, there are tried and tested methods.
Whether you’re just starting out or have been in the game for a while, taking a fresh look at your growth tactics is always a smart move. Here we'll delve into 11 proven ways to amplify your retail success.
11 ways to to grow your retail business
- Analyzing your retail business
- Understanding your customers
- Effective inventory management
- Improving in-store experience
- Expanding retail locations
- Leveraging ecommerce for retail business
- Adding a new product or product line
- Marketing strategies for retail business growth
- Loyalty programs and customer retention
- Using data analytics in retail
- Leveraging automation in retail
1. Analyzing your retail business
The first step to growing your retail business is understanding your business’s current state to determine the next steps you can take to reach your goals.
You need to get a broad perspective of your business as well as have a more in-depth analysis.
Here are the main areas every retail business owner needs to focus on:
Take the time to review your cash flow.
- Total sales: Measure monthly, quarterly, and annual sales.
- Sales by category/item: Identify high performing and underperforming items.
- Sales by location (if multiple locations): Determine which outlets are most profitable.
- Sales trends: Track sales growth or decline over time.
Review these key metrics of your operations to unlock opportunities for improvements.
- Inventory turnover: Work out the cost of goods sold and average inventory.
- Inventory management: Check for stockouts, excess stock, dead stock, and inventory holding costs.
- Supply chain efficiency: Assess lead times, supplier reliability, and procurement costs.
- Employee performance: Evaluate sales per employee, customer reviews, and overall staff productivity.
- Customer traffic: Use foot traffic counters or web traffic tools for online retailers.
- Conversion rate: Out of the people who enter your store or website, how many make a purchase?
Your customer metrics can offer key insights into where your business is falling short.
- Customer satisfaction: Use surveys, feedback forms, or face-to-face interactions.
- Customer retention: Track repeat customers and determine retention rates.
- Customer acquisition: Understand where new shoppers come from and the cost to acquire them.
- Customer segmentation: Identify different customer groups and tailor strategies to each segment.
New competitors enter the market all the time. Take a moment to analyze your competitors, and see how you compare.
- Competitor benchmarking: Compare your metrics against key competitors.
- SWOT analysis: Identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats relative to other businesses.
- Mystery shopping: Send individuals to assess competitor services and products firsthand.
Ensure you’re following your business strategy and keeping track of your goals by reviewing:
- Business goals and objectives: Are you on track to meet them?
- Key performance indicators: Monitor KPIs related to sales, customer satisfaction, and inventory management.
By digging into inventory turnover or studying sales trends, you uncover invaluable insights about your current retail business performance and where you can improve.
Analyzing your retail business is an ongoing process, so build it into your schedule. Make time to check in on your business’s metrics on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis.
2. Understanding your customers
Every successful retail business has a solid understanding of its customer base. Deeply understanding your customers goes beyond recognizing their buying habits; it means digging into their needs, preferences, and behaviors.
Retail analytics help you understand the challenges your customers face and how your business can solve them.
Start by tapping into data from the following sources:
- Point-of-sale system: Your retail POS provides plenty of data on sales, customers, and products to understand consumers better.
- Email analytics: Platforms like Shopify Email help you understand order rates, products purchased, and CTRs.
- Foot traffic analysis: Foot traffic counters like Dor let you see how many people visit your store. You can then compare this to Shopify POS data. This data will help you better understand why and when customers come to your physical store.
Retail analytics can tell you more about why customers choose to shop with you and what else they may need or want from your business.
Once you’ve gathered customer data, sort and segment them by grouping your customers based on similar characteristics or purchasing patterns. This allows you to tailor your retail marketing efforts and product offerings more accurately.
Start by categorizing your customers by:
- Life stage (single, married, retired, etc.)
- Shopping frequency
- Average order size
Customer segmentation helps you create more personalized experiences and a better overall customer experience.
Segmenting customers allows you to:
- Upsell and cross-sell products of interest
- Create targeted marketing campaigns that resonate with customers
- Choose the best type of communication for specific customers
- Create personalized loyalty programs to boost customer retention
- Find ways to improve products or customer service
Tapping into customer data helps you better understand what potential customers and existing shoppers want and need from your business. From there, you can use that information to make strategic changes to improve the customer experience and better target your most valuable customers.
3. Effective inventory management
A retail store’s success is often tied to how well it manages its inventory. Effective inventory management is essential to retail growth, serving as the bridge between supply and demand.
When managed properly, inventory ensures product availability and reduces overhead costs associated with excess stock or emergency replenishments caused by a stockout. Well-managed inventory can help you save on storage costs and improve fulfillment, while also contributing to your business’s cash flow.
To improve your inventory management, adopt best practices such as:
- Regular stock audits (including physical inventory, spot checking, and cycle counting)
- Leveraging inventory management systems for real-time tracking
- Maintaining a balanced safety stock and understanding par levels
- Understanding seasonal trends in your market
- Forecasting demand accurately
- Keeping an organized stockroom
- Maintaining relationships with suppliers
Adopting these best practices can make the difference between a missed opportunity and a sale. In the retail world, where profit margins and customer satisfaction hang in the balance, a solid inventory management system is not just a best practice—it's a necessity. Improving your inventory management could be the key to growing your business.
4. Improving in-store experience
The physical space of a store remains a cornerstone of retail success. A thoughtfully designed store layout does more than just showcase products; it shapes the customer's journey, dictating the ease of browsing, the flow of foot traffic, and the likelihood of impulse purchases.
For example, research shows shoppers usually look left first and then right when they enter a store. Customers also like to move right and walk counterclockwise around the store space.
It helps to start observing how customers currently interact with your store layout. You can monitor the customer flow, keeping an eye on how many customers come into the store, where they stop, how they behave and how much they buy.
This can help you identify areas of the store that get the most attention and sales, and those that are avoided.
As you think about adjusting your retail store layout, consider how you can optimize these in-store elements to increase customer flow and sales:
- Store layout
- Window displays
- Product placement
Great store design appeals to you customers in a variety of ways. It:
- Has an engaging window display
- Avoids key products at the entrance where shoppers will miss them
- Incorporates breaks or stopping points
- Displays the right amount of product and leaves enough space to browse
- Uses cross merchandising
- Regularly updated displays
If you want to drive engagement with your brand, try creating memorable shopping experiences with experiential retail.
Some 35% of customers shop in-store because they enjoy the experience, so tap into the desire for better physical shopping with these engagement ideas:
- Host masterclasses
- Create seasonal pop-up shops
- Hold community events
- Host interactive workshops
- Showcase relevant exhibitions
Alongside this, retail management and excellent customer service play a pivotal role in growing your retail business.
Knowledgeable staff who can assist, advise, and answer questions make shopping more enjoyable. Friendly team members have the power to turn potential returns into exchanges and hesitant customers into confident buyers. Invest in training your staff so they are confident and knowledgeable about your brand, products, and policies.
By optimizing store layout and investing in stellar product and service offerings, retailers can elevate the in-store experience, ensuring customers leave not just with products but with positive memories.
5. Expanding retail locations
It's not just about having multiple retail store locations but ensuring each one resonates with its target market. Before diving into expansion, you need to assess whether there's a genuine need for more new stores.
This involves understanding:
- Market saturation: Has your product or service reached a maximum level of consumption? Or is there still room for growth in the existing market?
- Regional demand: Is there enough demand in the geographical location for your product or service?
- The logistical implications of branching out: Can your business reasonably scale without hindering other areas of growth?
Successful retail expansion relies on thorough research, understanding local demographics, and adapting to market changes. You need to consider the different types of retail location and what will suit your business. Types of locations include:
- Brick-and-mortar retail
- Mall space
- Shopping centers
- Business parks
A strategy to consider when opening a new store is choosing a location that can also be used for fulfillment. Consider a location with more storage so it can additionally be used for in-store pickup of online orders, local delivery, and in-person returns. Likewise, you can consider a smaller location to use primarily as a showroom where customers can experience your products, then place orders online.
Another approach to reducing risk is to test demand with pop-up shops. These temporary shops can gauge customer interest and sales potential without the commitment of a full-fledged store.
For example, direct-to-consumer beauty brand Glossier tests out new retail stores with seasonal pop-up shops. In 2020, its London Covent Garden pop-up shop was so successful (100,000 customers came through the doors over two and half months), the brand decided to open a permanent store there.
Previously, Glossier opened seasonal pop-ups in cities like New York and Los Angeles before opening permanent year-round stores.
6. Leveraging ecommerce for retail business
What began as a convenient in-store shopping alternative has morphed into a primary shopping channel for many consumers worldwide.
For brick-and-mortar retailers, it presents a golden opportunity. In 2022, US online sales hit more than $1 trillion, while the only other country to reach the trillion mark that year was China. Retailers who don’t tap into this demand for online shopping risk losing money to their competitors.
Successfully integrating ecommerce into a traditional retail business requires a blend of strategy and adaptability.
- Optimizing mobile platforms for online shopping
- Ensuring consistent branding across all touchpoints
- Creating a seamless user experience that mirrors in-store shopping
Using tools like integrated inventory systems can help manage stock across both online and physical storefronts. By embracing ecommerce, retailers aren't merely staying in the game—they’re reaching customers in new markets and tapping into the vast potential of the digital marketplace.
7. Adding a new product or product line
Adding new products or product lines gives customers more choices. Think about how you can better meet different customer needs and preferences with multiple options. Sometimes it isn’t about developing a brand new product from scratch but reworking a current offering to meet shoppers’ needs and provide more value.
For example, bath brand Happy Hippo Bath Co. lets shoppers choose between purchasing one unit of its product or a five-pack for less. Customers can also choose to subscribe for even greater savings.
This might mean adding a new variation to your existing product line. Instead of selling just red shirts, you might start offering blue shirts in the same style, or expand your sizing options.
For example, sock brand Bombas sells the same style of ankle socks in multiple colors.
You can also create a new product that fits within a popular existing line. For example, wellness brand Olly creates lines of related supplements that complement one another and support customers’ health.
Some other product ideas include:
- Create a new product line to complement an existing one: Start offering quirky pens to go with the quirky notebook you sell.
- Create a new product in the same vertical: Start selling casual shoes in addition to formal shoes.
- Expand to a new vertical: Start renting out your store space to related groups or businesses as an event venue in the evenings when the shop is closed.
8. Marketing strategies for retail business growth
Social media marketing is an indispensable asset for retail businesses. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest showcase products and craft a business brand's story, build community, and drive instant purchases through shoppable posts.
For example, the homeware brand Jungalow promotes its products through shoppable Instagram posts:
Email marketing remains an effective strategy for retailers. Through email marketing, you can offer:
- Personalized promotions
- Loyalty rewards
- New product announcements
- Brand updates that foster deeper customer relationships
For example, insole brand Fulton shares a discount via email for first-time shoppers who sign up:
By using the combined power of social and email marketing, retailers can craft cohesive strategies across sales channels that drive traffic, boost sales, and elevate their brand in the competitive market.
9. Loyalty programs and customer retention
In the ever competitive world of retail, it's not just about acquiring new customers but ensuring they keep coming back. Loyalty programs help encourage customers to become loyal fans.
Loyalty programs reward repeat business, fostering a cycle where customers feel valued and are incentivized to continue purchasing.
For example, menswear brand Mizzen+Main has a loyalty program that gives shoppers one point, or company coin as they’re known, for every $1 they spend with the brand.
To get customers excited about the potential rewards, the brand highlights what customers can get in exchange for company coins. It offers a variety of features to appeal to different customers, including birthday gifts, free shipping, and early access to sales and products.
Redeeming points or coins means customers must visit your store for another purchase, which increases the chances they’ll spend again. It also builds customer loyalty, as it incentivises them to choose your business over a competitor, as they’ll earn more reward points.
Loyalty programs can help you grow your business when used as a customer acquisition tool. Offer points for referrals, and encourage loyal customers to act as brand advocates by encouraging them to show off their perks.
An effective loyalty program is only one facet of customer retention.
Strategies like personalized offers, consistent engagement through feedback loops, and quality post-purchase support play equally crucial roles.
By intertwining the allure of loyalty rewards with genuine, customer-focused strategies, retailers can create a magnetic pull that not only attracts customers but keeps them engaged and invested in the brand's journey.
10. Using data analytics in retail
Retail data analytics provide a clear snapshot of consumer behaviors, purchasing patterns, and market trends. But collecting data is just the beginning.
It’s key to use this data to make informed decisions. By dissecting analytics, retailers can pinpoint what resonates with their audience, tailor marketing campaigns for maximum impact, and forecast future trends.
Whether it's adjusting pricing strategies, refining product assortments, or enhancing the customer journey, data-driven insights offer a roadmap for growth.
Here are a few places to start with using retail data analytics:
Online retail analysis
- Website analytics: Monitor metrics like bounce rate, conversion rate, and user flow to optimize the online shopping experience.
- Cart abandonment analysis: Identify reasons customers might be leaving without completing a purchase.
- Customer review analysis: Use sentiment analysis tools to get insights from customer reviews and feedback.
Marketing and advertising
- Campaign effectiveness: Measure the ROI of marketing campaigns by tracking metrics such as conversion rates, click-through rates, and customer acquisition costs.
- Customer retention analysis: Understand which strategies keep customers coming back.
- Social media analytics: Analyze engagement, reach, and sentiment on social platforms to refine your social media strategy.
- Sales performance: Analyze daily, weekly, or monthly sales data to identify trends.
- Employee performance: Track employee sales performance to identify training needs or staffing adjustments.
- Churn prediction: Identify customers who might be at risk of not returning and find ways to re-engage them.
- Sales predictions: Use past data to forecast future sales, helping with planning and stocking.
11. Leveraging automation in retail
When you decide to pursue a growth activity, you need to consider how to optimize new product development and production to reduce variable costs while increasing output.
Simple automation is anything that allows you to lower the cost of making decisions. Scaling allows you to increase capacity within a given process while either maintaining or reducing the variable costs of that process.
For example, you might scale your sales by hiring additional floor staff for your store.
As long as those new employees sell at the same rate at the same base salary, your relative costs will remain stable.
You might start ordering your materials in bulk at a wholesale cost. As long as your other production costs don’t increase, your overall cost per unit would be lower because of the discounted rate.
This prevents loss of profit margins, operating at a loss, or increasing waste alongside the increases in revenue and output that come with growth.
Grow your retail business sustainably
Growing a retail business sustainably is not an overnight job. You’ll need a long-term strategy of embracing tech and adapting to evolving consumer behaviors.
Start by thoroughly analyzing your business’s current state and customer expectations. Then, using the strategies in this article, you’ll be on the path to achieving long-term retail business growth.