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How independent retailers can close the year and plan ahead

by Ana Lopez
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DIRECTOR, National Retail Solutions (NRS). NRS POS, NRS DIGITAL MEDIA, NRS PAY, NRS FUNDING and NRS PETRO: helping independent retailers succeed.

At the end of the year, retailers need to think about preparing their business for the year ahead. This includes researching their inventory and sales stats, as well as observing what needs improvement in the store itself. If sellers aren’t sure where to start, consider these four strategies.

Review sales reports and inventory

The first step to a successful start to the year is to adjust your inventory based on sales data. When merchants use their POS system, the built-in sales report will be able to categorize which items have sold the most and the least. This allows merchants to determine the most popular items to keep selling for the next year. Sellers can also research market trends to see what’s in demand. If the data shows a decline in recent years, they should reconsider sales of that product.

Clearing last year’s inventory

If last year’s items become obsolete, they should be replaced with more popular ones. This may mean discounting or moving old inventory to boost sales.

For example, retailers can offer discounts, such as using a ladder sale, a “buy one, get one free” deal, or bundling items, to create old inventory more attractive to customers. Changing the location of these items is another useful strategy. Displaying discounted items at checkout is one way to make sure customers see them. Merchants can also try creating eye-catching signs, using bright colors and large letters, to alert customers to new discounts.

Renovate the store

The way physical stores are set up is an important factor in improving the shopping experience and increasing sales. When the layout and map to achieve optimal flow can positively influence shopping behavior. There are four ways to structure the store:grid, free-flow, loop and angular– which have their own pros and cons depending on the type of merchandise being sold or the customer experience desired.

A strategy for planning a new or updated layout is using a planogram. This diagram helps visually represent how a store can be structured and where goods should be placed on the shelves. For example, retailers want to set up a display of luxury items in front of the store. Wherever items are placed, make sure there is enough space between aisles and shelves to allow both customers and staff members to move around the store comfortably.

Renovating the store is not just about changing the layout. If sellers notice other factors slowing business down, such as old floors, a cramped entryway, or faulty light fixtures, they should make those changes as well. When done correctly, updating the store can improve the aesthetics and functionality of your store while helping to develop your brand. In addition, studies have shown that remodeling can increase revenue from new customers by 43%.

Update marketing strategies

Whether it’s sharing new deals or showing off a new space, it’s vital for sellers to have effective marketing. Most importantly, they need to consider how their customers would like to be engaged. As regards 70% of American adults shop online, but there are plenty of customers who prefer to see a product in real life. That’s why it’s critical to serve both online and in-person customers.

Having an optimized website and active social media channels have become the standard in marketing. Investing in a strong digital strategy can have a major impact on customer satisfaction and engagement. Considering that over 72% of Americans use social mediaA merchant’s online presence can be an integral part of business success.

However, if sellers find that their brand is not getting enough engagement through their current efforts, they may want to consider alternative methods. For example, they can hire a digital influencer. These online personalities can help attract new audiences or reengage previous consumers with a brand.

Preparing a retail business for the year ahead can present some challenges, but it is not impossible. When sellers invest in the right tools and strategies, they can boost their performance, sales, and customer base. This can contribute to a successful end of the year and a productive start to the new year.

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