by RJ Horsley
With 2019 coming to a close, it’s important for retailers to step back and evaluate their current situation in order to streamline processes and propel business forward in the new year. Of course, that’s easier said than done without a plan of action. Based on consumer trends and the increasing availability of time-and-money-saving technology, these five tips can help retailers get the most when it comes to improving efficiency in 2020.
1. Set Targeted Goals
Well targeted goals are ones that identify areas of the business that have room for improvement and lay out how to get there. In some cases, these areas might be apparent. Perhaps there was a high employee turnover rate or an excessive amount of customer returns and customer service issues in 2019. In other cases, problem areas may not be as obvious.
In those instances, retailers can rely on their point-of-sale (POS) reporting to identify 2020 goals. This should include a deep dive into sales reports to see which products are selling, which aren’t, which are turning a profit, and which products are leading to losses due to underpricing or excessive returns.
Retailers should also take a close look at employee clock-in and clock-out data, along with payroll reports, to identify any shifts where they are under- or over-staffed and when employees are consistently working overtime hours that cut into profits.
2. Establish Sound Processes
With 2020 goals in place, retailers need to create a plan of action for reaching those goals. A great way to do that is by ensuring that sound processes are in place for each problem area — either by establishing a new process or improving upon one that’s already in place.
Some common areas where creating a sound process can lead to improved efficiency include:
- Return Policies
- Escalation Procedures for Customer Complaints
- Employee Scheduling
- Employee Time-Off Requests
- Responding to Negative Online Reviews
- Store Hours of Operation
3. Automate Operations
Other goals are best attained by automating processes. This is particularly true for repetitive, time-intensive operations like payroll processing. When done manually, it is a tedious chore that demands the attention of a manger on a recurring basis. This process can be automated, however, by syncing employee-level data from the retailer’s POS system to a payroll provider, freeing up the manager to focus on other important tasks and boosting efficiency.
Other areas that are easy to automate with the right software solutions include:
- Low-Inventory Alerts Via POS Reporting
- Online Review Monitoring and Notifications
- Customer Email Capture Via a Digital Loyalty or Marketing Program
- Marketing Campaigns
4. Get the Most from Your Website and Social Media
When it comes to growing revenue, the online world still offers the most potential to reach customers at a low price point. Like all businesses, a retailer’s website is front and center to establishing an online presence.
At the bare minimum, a retail website should clearly state the name, location, business hours, and contact information for the store. This makes it easy for consumers to find the business through an online search. Retailers should also strongly consider having an online store to open a new revenue stream, as well as hosting a blog to improve their ranking in online searches.
With social media, retailers should identify the two or three social channels where they get the most engagement and make a point of posting regular content. This is best done by creating monthly marketing content calendars that identify holidays and special occasions that warrant social media posts, as well as the slow periods within a month where the retailer can get more creative with their social content by posting discounts, deals, contests, and behind-the-scenes videos.
5. Create a Friendly Environment for Employees
As the job market becomes more saturated in 2020, it’s important for retailers to make sure they have a worker-friendly environment to attract — and keep — reliable employees. In many cases, the tips we’ve already discussed do exactly that.
For example, having a fair scheduling procedure in place creates clarity for employees and their work hours. Retailers should aim to go above and beyond that by focusing on simple things like listening to employee concerns and providing growth opportunities, which can do wonders to improve worker morale and retention. Beyond that, retailers should strive to offer additional full-time positions, which are often more desirable in today’s “gig economy” where people are forced to work multiple jobs.
These five tips provide an easy framework for retailers to set the right types of goals and achieve them. At the end of the day, even the most efficient retailers can find room for improvement. By setting appropriate goals and following through these actionable items, retailers can start 2020 on track to be a year of growth and success.