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5 Best Ways to Excel in Retail in the Year Ahead

By
Nicole Reyhle for Lightspeed

It’s a new year, and with it comes the
opportunity to start fresh with your retail business. Retail sales hit around $5.16 trillion in 2018, and they’re
projected to hit $5.32 trillion in 2019. So whether last year’s performance in your
store could use a lot of improvement – or you had an exceptional year and want
to break some new records – the pointers below will help you excel in the year
ahead.

Increase
Payments Options for Your Customers

In the ever-changing world of modern
retailing, technology gives retailers the capability to accept customer
payments from anywhere and at any time. Yet many merchants are missing out on
sales because they only offer limited payment options to their customers.

Payment options not only improve the
customer experience, but also increase customer retention and encourage repeat
business. A simple way to increase revenue is by investing in the tools and
technology that will enhance the checkout process by providing flexible payment
methods over multiple channels.

Along with mobile paying options like Apple Pay or Google Pay, think about
implementing options like Sezzle
and Afterpay that give customers the
option to “Shop Now and Pay Later” with simple installment plans. This leads to
increased incremental sales, enabling more customers to afford to shop at your
online store; increased basket sizes, enabling your customers to buy more at
the time of purchase; and increased conversions, giving your customers the
peace of mind from paying over time, with no interest charges. In combination
with credit card payments still, this is something modern merchants should
embrace in the year ahead.

Incorporate
Automation Across More Touch Points of Your Retail Operations

From inventory management to logistics to
digital marketing and more, you’d be hard-pressed to find any successful
retailer not using automation and integrations in some form. Whether
it’s brick-and-mortar, e-commerce or a blend of the two, new technologies are
freeing up retailers’ resources to improve the shopping experience.

It can sound intimidating when you talk
about things like AI, but by using a business intelligence dashboard, you gain
insight into how every campaign does, and that information can be used to shape
future campaigns for even more success. When it comes to social media, tools
like SproutSocial and SocialJukebox let you create social
shares that will then be automatically shared on the schedule you set, freeing
up more of your time.

Chatbots are also having their moment
right now, as these digital virtual assistants use artificial intelligence to
interact with customers through messaging apps — no humans needed.
Additionally, there are countless ways automation benefits inventory management
including returns and logistics of inventory. When aiming to strengthen your
operations in the year ahead, be sure automation is among the ways you do this.

Welcome
Loyalty as a Top Priority Among Your Customers

It’s said that it costs five times as much
to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one. That’s why the first
rule of any business is to retain customers and build a loyal relationship with
them… avoiding those customer acquisition costs.

The easiest way to turn every new shopper
into a repeat customer is with a loyalty program built right into your POS
system. This includes a highly targeted rewards program with a branded
customer-facing web-app to track points, automated campaigns via SMS, a
drag-and-drop email builder and customer insights that allow you to track
customer spending habits and the results of your promotional efforts all from
one dashboard.

Not only do you get to know your
customers’ spending habits and interests when implanting a loyalty program into
your business, but you can also use this information to confidently manage your
products, pricing, and promotions. It’s a winning scenario any savvy retailer
won’t want to miss!

Optimize
Customer Communication, Store Operations & More With Analytics

An IBM survey showed that 62 percent
of retailers report a competitive advantage from using information and
analytics. In fact, it’s no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity. It’s not enough
to just collect the data — retailers must leverage that data to gain a
comprehensive understanding of markets, customers, products, distribution locations,
competitors, employees and more.

By knowing your customers’ tendencies and
tastes, retailers can tailor their messages and present the most compelling
offers for that shopper — all through their POS.

Are you keeping the right inventory on
hand? Is your team working efficiently? How often do your best customers shop? Lightspeed Analytics examines your
stock, customer experience, and staff performance to suggest real business
optimizations — all in one place. With retail competition tougher than
ever, leveraging this data is a must.

Never
Stop Learning

It’s not enough just to run the numbers
every day. As retailers, you need to consistently review your operations, react
to changes in the retail environment, and commit to improving each and every
day to help your business grow and succeed.

To help do this, make 2019 the year you
finally sign up for newsletters that distribute important retail tips and
tricks, participate in online trainings for both you and your employees as well
as attend industry trade shows and events where you can make important
connections with others in the industry. In addition, have regular
conversations with your customers to find out what they want — and what
they don’t want — to better understand how you can excel at your retail goals.
Don’t overlook the value of listening and learning from you employees, as well.

The real takeaway here?  To always be hungry for more knowledge that –
along with data – can help you make important and more proactive decisions for
your business in the year ahead.

Final
Thoughts

By doing research, gathering data,
embracing automation and technology, and listening to your customers, you’re on
the path to making sure that 2019 will be your best year yet.

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