Not only is July the month of Independence Day in the USA, it marks the start of Independent Retailers Month in the UK.
Across Europe, we’re seeing a surge in the popularity of independent retailers, as consumers crave a local shopping experience that offers the kind of character and personalization they feel is not always available to them with larger organization.
However, as any independent retailer knows, going it alone is tough. That’s why iVend Retail has put together some tips to help our industry’s independents maximize their chance of success.
- Right place, right time
Convenience and locality are key traffic drivers for independent stores, but it’s easy to pick the wrong street. Try to balance the need for cost-effectiveness with the attractiveness of the market, to attract plenty of organic traffic. This will cut down the need for marketing, too.
- Spread the word
Although a good location reduces the need for a huge marketing budget, independent businesses have to work twice as hard to gain brand recognition over large chains, because they haven’t got the advantage of having a store on every street corner in the country.The advent of social media has created huge opportunities for smaller retailers to promote their business for a relatively small budget, however, so look for free platforms and tools to set up a promotional strategy.
- Get the price on point
Competing on price often ends in a race to the bottom, so often it’s better for independent retailers to focus on transparent pricing, and then work to add value in other ways. For example, take service to the customer by investing in a mobile POS device. The growth of cloud-based technology has brought the cost of hardware down to a price that smaller businesses can comfortably afford now.
- Be cautious with stock
One of the biggest troubles smaller businesses run into is not their choice of merchandise, but their volume of stock. Be very careful not to get carried away with ordering; it is very important to test new products on a limited run before investing in a full order.Equally, independent retailers with more than one store need to carefully balance supply and demand across their network. Being able to do this rests on having a single view of stock – for more support, read iVend Retail’s 5 tips for moving to a single stock pool.
- Give customers a reason to come back
Not enough emphasis is placed on loyalty in the independent retail community. Incentivizing customers and rewarding advocates cannot be underestimated; the cost of retaining an existing shopper is much lower than acquiring new customers.Consider making schemes extra convenient to consumers by running a mobile loyalty application, so that shoppers can collect points on their smartphone with each visit.
- Be careful with cash flow
One of the foremost reasons that independent retailers go out of business is poor cash flow management. Therefore, make it easy to take money and make money. This might mean investing in card payment machines or switching to electronic invoicing; whatever it takes to speed up cash flow.Don’t forget to forecast either – planning for a rainy day could be the difference between failure and survival.