They say that youth is wasted on the young. Nearly all of us wish we could go back in time to shake some commonsense into our younger selves. This universal desire applies to everything from love to health to business.
It even applies to retail.
Just think of everything you wish you could have told yourself before opening your first store. With an opportunity like that, you could have:
- Avoided a lot of rookie mistakes
- Generated many more sales
After conducting a very informal survey, we compiled a list of five of the most common pieces of advice that retail merchants wish they had received when starting.
1. Establish Your Brand ASAP
Big-box stores invest heavily in their brands. They have the budgets to do so.
Even if you operate a small shop, brand identity is no less important. When you’re starting, it’s critical to define your values and establish your brand as soon as possible.
If you don’t, your competitors will do it for you.
Need tips on how to position a retail store? Here are some suggestions to get you started.
2. The Customer Isn’t Always Right
It goes against orthodoxy — but customers aren’t always right. Even when they are, this doesn’t give them license to be rude.
As a merchant, you can and should be accommodating whenever your customers experience an issue. Try to fix the problem as quickly as possible — while remaining polite. In most cases, offering a refund or a few freebies will do the trick.
Yet, you shouldn’t have to bend over backward to meet their demands. When dealing with truly unreasonable customers, you have every right to “fire” them.
Here’s a list of useful tips on how to deal with super rude customers.
3. You’re Allowed to Break the Rules
Most supermarkets use familiar floorplans. The same goes for shoe stores, hardware shops, and almost any other retail establishment that comes to mind. In nearly all cases, merchants simply duplicate what everyone else does (in their respective niches).
However, IKEA didn’t subscribe to this formula. Instead, it designed a walk-through experience that no one had ever seen in the furniture industry.
Rather than display its inventory on aisled shelves (like most electronics vendors do), Apple started using showrooms where users could “play” with phones, tablets, and computers before buying them.
The takeaway is that you can be creative with the layout, design, and display of your retail store. Break the rules and see what works. You might accidentally stumble upon an innovative formula that all of your competitors try to copy.
4. Launch a Loyalty Program
Starting a loyalty program is kind of like planting a tree. You have to invest some time and effort upfront, and the results don’t materialize right away.
Once your tree (or customer loyalty program) starts bearing fruit, you’ll be happy you made the investment. With minimal maintenance, you’ll be able to harvest larger crops with each passing year.
The only hard part is getting started, but as this article clearly demonstrates — getting started with a loyalty program isn’t that difficult.
5. Payment Security Is a Must
As a retailer in 2019, you already know that protecting yourself from payment fraud means choosing a PCI-compliant processor that understands the importance of data security.
Even before the introduction of these PCI standards (in 2004), payment fraud was a major problem in retail — costing merchants billions in annual losses. This is why the major credit cards began enforcing more rigid data security policies beginning in the 1990s.
Ensuring your payment processor offers advanced security tools, like point-to-point encryption and tokenization, along with the support you need to understand the requirements and maintain compliance, will help minimize the risk of a data breach and resulting consequences like:
- Penalties and fines
- Lost sales and revenue
- Potential litigation fees
What Retail Lessons Do You Wish You Could Tell Your Younger Self?
What you thought was the right decision at the time, may not have turned out the way you’d expected; however, learning from our mistakes is how we advance and grow.