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5 Retail Thoughts About 2014 You Can’t Ignore

Happy New Year from Retail Minded!

As we settle into the official first full week of 2014, I wanted to share with you some thoughts, reflections and goals for the new year ahead. Here, in no particular order, are my thoughts on independent retail as we kick start the new year.

1. Independent Retailers Need to Recognize They Aren’t “In This Alone”

Time and time again, I hear from retailers who feel isolated and alone in their retail journeys. While online resources such as social media and even RetailMinded.com help eliminate total isolation from other retailers, it’s not enough. I encourage retailers to embrace their communities, nearby retail neighbors, niche market retail associations, state level retail groups and other associations in the year ahead to feel more engaged, supported and not so alone in your retail journeys.

2. Independent Retailers Can’t Do It All 

Among the many responsibilities on your to-do-lists include planning in-store events, managing visual merchandising changes, training new employees, managing part time, seasonal or contract staff, communicating through email marketing, updating social media and much, much more. In 2014, I hope that retailers will accept that it’s simply impossible to do this all alone and instead embrace other people and even outside businesses to help them along the way. Some of our favorite supporters of independent retailers whom we believe can further help you in your retail goals, store management and total sales include SnapRetail, Boutique Vision, Premier Packaging, Boutique Window and Modalyst.co. I encourage you to check them each out to discover what may be best for you.

3. Independent Retailers Should Not Neglect The Power of Websites 

Here’s the deal… we love brick and mortar Main Street merchants and will always work to help them succeed. But neglecting the power of being online isn’t helping your business. If you happen to be one of those retailers, consider that Forrester Research estimates online spending to exceed $300 billion by 2017. That’s a pretty strong number to ignore. And while you may not be able to compete with every sale Amazon or other big box e-merchants make, you don’t want to dismiss the general power of search engine optimization (SEO) and how being online helps your brick and mortar sales, as well. Customers nowadays constantly seek information on products, store locations and other general details about why and where they want to shop. Not including your store as part of their search options hurts you – plain and simple. An easy way to get up and running online is to open a template based website from Shopify.com. Even the least savvy web folks out there can painlessly and easily use their template based e-commerce sites – customized for your unique business – to help gain visibility for your stores.

4. Independent Retailers Need to Continue to Learn 

I’m a big believer in continuing education, though don’t necessarily think returning to school is the only avenue to receive this. In retail, I am pleasantly impressed with the vast range of educational opportunities for independent merchants and encourage you to embrace education in the new year. Among the various ways you can do this include attending education sessions at the trade shows you attend (most have these, and if they don’t you should consider attending another trade show in your retail market that does), signing up for education events / classes / workshops from your local Small Business Development Centers, or by attending one of two Independent Retailer Conferences from Retail Minded taking place in the new year. Even more ideal? Doing all these things!

5. Independent Retailers Should Challenge Themselves to Want to Do Better

So you’re probably asking yourself… “What do you mean challenge ourselves? We do that everyday with a full plate already!”. Well, you’re right. You do challenge yourself everyday as in independent retailer. You also get challenged everyday as an independent retailer. But I believe you can still do more to ultimately help you gain more, save time and – dare I say – “do” less. Here’s the thing… as you become a stronger, more educated retailer, your time becomes better managed and your goals become more easily met. I’d love to see each of you accomplish just that in the New Year! To help you do this, we’ve teamed up with the folks at SnapRetail to create a dynamic and FREE Retail Challenge to help you throughout all of 2014. We’ll provide you one challenge a month with resources, tips, expert insight and more to help you along the way. We’ll also introduce you to a private Facebook chat group just in case you want additional TLC – though this isn’t a must for you to be a part of the challenge. Curious? I hope so, because I’m super excited about this and can’t wait to offer more detailed retail support through this Retail Challenge! Learn more and sign up for FREE here.

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