5 Ways Retailers Can Control Costs
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create challenges for retailers, entrepreneurs are re-examining their business models to see where they can better control costs while continuing to drive operational efficiencies. From my personal experience as a Yahoo Small Business advisor and brick-and-mortar store co-owner, I’d like to share my top tips for how retail owners can use their budgets effectively to drive the most business impact.
1. Hire Supplemental Staff
For tasks that are outside your purview or the expertise of your current staff, consider hiring specialists, freelancers or contractors. Hiring on an as-needed basis can span simple or complex tasks such as accounting, cleaning services or financial advising. Bringing additional staff on board will help enable you to focus on what you truly love — growing your business and developing your craft — rather than the operational aspects of keeping your business running.
2. Engage a Website Expert
This year, you'll likely have some customers that are shopping online for the first time. With this, it's essential to have a mobile-friendly, easy-to-navigate website to keep consumers informed on your latest company updates and inventory. Engage a trusted partner company that can help set up your website for success and advise you on strategies for customer engagement. As a retail owner, you play many roles and likely wear many hats, but you don’t have to do it all. In fact, you shouldn’t even try. Working with a partner company to develop or manage your website, or even maintain your e-commerce platform, can be key to your success. A robust online presence has never been more important with the uptick in consumers staying home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. Analyze Customer Data to Make Data-Backed Decisions
Working with a partner company on your website and marketing strategies can help your business in more ways than one. First, promoting your business is a great way to collect consumer data; you don’t know what works and what doesn't work until you try. While trial and error is sometimes necessary to build the right strategy, it’s important to look at your sales and marketing data to make informed decisions. Identifying who is buying your product, when and through what channel is also key. This will help you avoid overspending on marketing and ensure you’re reaching your target audience.
4. Re-Evaluate Manual Processes
Look at your day-to-day business management and processes. If you’re doing a task manually that can be automated, it’s time to consider making a change. For example, are you entering credit card data by hand, or manually sending marketing emails to your distribution list? If so, implement technology to avoid wasting time and energy on something that could be automated. This will also reduce possible human errors, which in turn will save you and your business money.
5. Update Your Systems
Consider implementing an order management system that’s equipped with shipping management. Using one system that includes essential services, such as inventory tracking, shipping and delivery, is key to streamlining operational efficiencies. Not only will this help you manage all data in one place, but it will also decrease the risk of things falling through the cracks, which can unfortunately happen when you’re juggling numerous tasks.
Set Yourself Up for Success in 2021
2020 was a year like no other, as it presented incredible challenges for the retail industry. Retailers must ensure they're set up for success as we begin a new year. Effectively using budget is a key way to prepare for success today and in the future, and following a few top tips can help.
Maria Melo is a senior business advisor at Yahoo Small Business. She has been working with new and established e-commerce merchants for over 20 years to help them grow their businesses.
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Maria Melo is a senior business advisor at Yahoo Small Business. Maria Melo has been working with new and established e-commerce merchants for over 20 years to help them grow their businesses. Maria has also spent over 14 years working with her family in their brick and mortar retail store and is part owner of her own retail wine shop with her brother and sister.