6 Things To Know About 2015 Before You Plan 2016
Contributed by Mary Romeo of Bee Business Smart.
You made it through 2015….congrats! Virtual high five!
Hopefully your holiday season and your year ended in success. You hit your sales goals, your staff stayed intact throughout the season, customers were happily buying and your merchandise sell-through left you with very little for the sales table. And, if you were really lucky, you had some time to spend with family and friends to celebrate the season. YEAH! Isn’t that what we all wish for in our stores?
So it’s a New Year and we start the process all over. A whole new round of markets to go to, merchandise to buy, things to clean up and goals we want to accomplish (and if you’re on the east coast, a doozy of a snow storm to clean up from).
Before you start planning your 2016 though, let’s look at what we did (or didn’t) accomplish last year, how it really turned out and what we might want to change about it for this year. Who was it that said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results”.
STOP THE INSANITY
Is that what you’re doing? Whether it’s in your merchandise buying, your social media strategy or managing your store and your staff we can all get stuck in the quagmire of doing what we’ve always done and “hoping” it will turn out differently.
So, let’s make a plan to up the ante. Plan that 2016 will be about growth, getting control, understanding your true financial picture and dealing with the pieces of running our stores that are keeping you from the success you deserve.
BUT, before you can start planning 2016 we have to look very carefully at what happened in 2015. What worked. What didn’t. What were the factors that made it work or not. And especially the numbers. Your numbers–not just sales–but margins, average sale, customer counts are the meat of what makes your plans for 2016 meaningful.
6 THINGS TO LOOK AT IN 2015 BEFORE YOU PLAN 2016:
ONE: MONTHLY SALES CURVE
Knowing your monthly sales curve for the year let’s you plan your buying—and your selling—more accurately. Go to market armed with your open-to-buy numbers and dates for shipping so that you’re armed with the information to get your merchandise delivered at the right time to create those display stories that will sell the merchandise
TWO: SALES BY CATEGORY
What were your top 3 merchandise categories by sales? That’s probably something you know instinctively. But do you know which categories have the best margins? They may not be the same. Extra points if you know your sales by category by month. If you don’t have this information for 2015, put a system in place moving forward so that you have this information. It’s invaluable for planning.
THREE: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MARGINS
What were your average margins for 2015? When computing your margins did you add in shipping charges and any packaging costs? Did you take into account what you put on sale which reduced your margins. Remember, pricing is an art and a science and profitability is in maintaining your margins and controlling costs not just about increasing sales.
FOUR: SHOW AND TELL TIME
What in-store promotions (i.e. book signings, trunk shows, food samplings) did you create last year? What outside events did you do (a pop-up shop, a holiday bazaar, a speaking engagement). What worked and what didn’t work? And why? What could you have done differently. How many events will you plan for 2016. Remember you can’t just wait for your customer to find you…sometimes you have to go out and get them!
FIVE: MARKETING WINS
What marketing wins did you have in 2015. Did you rock Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? Did you become a pinner’s dream come true on Pinterest. Did you sell your merchandise online? What’s your Social Media strategy for 2016? You don’t have to be on every Social Media platform. Pick one and learn to be great at it.
SIX: STAY IN TOUCH
No matter how good your Social Media is, there’s always a chance you could lose your customer connections on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. Always, always be building your email list. Email is where you create a real relationship with your customers on a platform that you own and won’t ever lose. If you don’t have an email list started make that a priority and then make sure your use it.
HOW HONEST CAN YOU BE?
Be honest with yourself when reviewing 2015… then be realistic when planning 2016. Create clear and measurable goals. From your goals, build your strategies to reach them and then tackle the individual tactics (basically the to-do list) that will support your strategies.
So let’s take a look at an example. If your goal is to build your email list to 1000 names, your strategies might be 1) create a monthly goal and in-store contest among your staff to see who can generate the most emails and give a prize 2) create a monthly giveaway for customers to register to win with their email 3) send an email to your current list with a special offer for them and their any of their friends who sign up for your list.
A great strategy for hitting your goals… think of them in 90 day segments. It keeps them manageable, fresh in everyone’s mind and reachable. Good luck and have a great 2016!
Contributed by Mary Romeo of BEE BUSINESS SMART, a retail resource website for brick and mortar retailers offering tips, tools, resources, information and inspiration to take the overwhelm out of the everyday. Romeo is a 23 year retail veteran who created this on-line business to connect, inspire and work with retailers. She understands the 1001 hats that a retailer wears every day in running their stores, managing their staff and building their sales and created BEE BUSINESS SMART to be the resource for them to turn to. Mary is also a featured speaker at the Independent Retailers Conference at the ASD Show in Las Vegas, February 28-March 3, 2016. Be sure to see the 9 TOP TOUCHPOINTS OF EVERY GREAT RETAIL STORE at www.beebusinesssmart.com.