3 tips for scaling a best-in-class retail business
Our friends at Retail for the People offer their expertise for scaling your retail business to the next level. Check out these sought-after tips from retail consultants that have years of experience growing brands just like yours.
1: Never stop marketing
Don’t underestimate the power and importance of marketing. Marketing helps consumers understand who you are, what you sell, how your products help them, and why you are the best option on the market.
If you are not engaged in marketing how do you expect to scale your sales and your business? 1 in 10 small businesses do not invest in any marketing. Don’t be ‘that guy if you want to grow.
New to marketing? Then start small:
Try direct mail through one of the many companies that offer targeted programmatic direct mail as a service such as–Post Pilot, PostGrid, or Lob. These companies allow you to send and track direct mail in real time and measure the effectiveness of your campaigns even if you are not a marketing professional.
Press releases, for new products, collections, or business anniversaries/announcements. Everyone is familiar with press releases, at least you probably have read some in your lifetime. It is a vital tool in the marketing toolkit for retailers because in just one press release you can expand reach nationally across syndicated tv, radio, print, and digital platforms to over 3k+ media outlets.
Collect reviews. Yes, reviews are a form of marketing and one that must be a part of your strategy to gain trust. Thingtesting is a great platform to use if you have branded products to drive both sales and honest reviews from customers. Never stop working to collect reviews in-store and online. “Spiffs” which is just sales lingo for monetary incentives to store staff for collecting the most reviews over a period of time is a great way to keep the reviews coming.
2: Know your businesses priorities
Your first priority is to solve a problem for your customers. What is the problem your business solves? Have a clear answer. Remember, your reason for being in business is to make their lives better through the product or services you sell. Know what problem you are solving for your customers and share your solution in all of your marketing messages.
Second, you need to know where you are going, then make a simple plan–call it a business plan or call it whatever you like– for 1-2 years on how to get there. “Businesses with business plans have a 30% chance of greater growth.” You’d be surprised by how many retailers want to grow and scale but don’t have a clear 1-2 year plan. Don’t be one of them.
Within the business plan, clarify:
- What does it cost us to solve this problem for each customer?
- What is our breakeven point in dollars and in units sold?
3: Focus on customer retention
Why focus on customer retention? First, let's be clear, you need your customers more than they need you, and secondly, customer retention dramatically impacts your profit. Studies by Bain & Company and Earl Sasser of the Harvard Business School, have measured that even a 5 percent increase in customer retention can lead to an increase in profits somewhere between 25 and 95 percent. (Bain & Company with Earl Sasser)
The emotional connection a customer has with your store is the backbone of customer retention. Gallup's research shows that customers who feel emotionally loyal to a company will spend 46 percent more with the retailer than shoppers without these emotional ties.
If that's not convincing enough of a reason to prioritize customer retention, let's take a look at just a few more stats that will help you see just how vital this is for all retailers:
Current customers are on average more willing to try your new product. “Existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more when compared to new customers.”
The odds are in your favor– “the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is just 5-20%.” After all, sales is a numbers game, so having the numbers in your favor will result in far greater financial success.
Sol Price, one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time, built his entire business (Costco) around the principle that if you advocate for your customers they will be your greatest form of advertising. Emotionally connected, loyal customers will be the public advocates for your company in the good times and the bad.
One customer experience agency found loyal customers are 5x as likely to repurchase, 5x as likely to forgive, 4x as likely to refer, and 7x as likely to try a new offering. (Microsoft)
Sending customers messages via email or SMS is a great place to start building retention, especially when the communication is targeted and personalized, but sending both an email and a handwritten card is even better.
We live in a day and age where we receive many digital messages, so due to the volume, they do not feel as special, compared to receiving a handwritten card. Think about it like this, targeted emails and SMS messages are wonderful but handwritten cards say more than what’s written on them; they tell your customers you care about them and value their influence on your business. We want to ‘say more’ because our retention strategy is to foster genuine relationships and emotional connections with our paying customers.
1. Send your customers a handwritten thank-you card after they purchase any product. These cards show your shoppers you appreciate them choosing your business and spending their dollars with you. You will stick in your customer‘s minds and encourage them to spend with you again.
2. Send another handwritten card on their birthday, including a special store credit or birthday discount. If you don't know their birthday, send a card on the yearly anniversary of their first purchase.
3. When the customer has been absent for 5-6 months, send a handwritten card to let them know you miss them. So often life gets busy and this little, personal nudge is all it takes to trigger the emotional connection.
If you are worried about how to manage writing all these cards, fear not because modern technology makes sending handwritten cards easier than ever before. Record the customer’s birthdays or special dates in each customer’s profile within Shopify, then automate the creation and sending process with a service like Handwrytten that uses AI technology to write and send note cards in your own handwriting. Set the triggers up through Shopify Flows so you never miss an opportunity to build an emotional connection with your customers again.
To summarize, the three tips for scaling your retail business:
1. Never stop marketing
- Direct Mail is still great
- Press releases are necessary
- Collecting customer reviews is key
2. Know your company’s priorities
- What is the problem you solve for customers?
- Have a 1-2 year plan
3. Customer retention is imperative to growth
- It is 5x easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to sell to a stranger.
- Existing customers already trust your store so they are 7x more likely to try new products recommended, making upsells and cross-selling easier.
- With digital communication becoming more common, sending 3 types of handwritten cards are an important way to set your retail business apart and to grow the emotional connection with your customers.
For more retail growth strategies or tips, visit the Retail for the People’s Blog. And if you’re interested in learning how your store can become one of tomorrow’s strongest retailers, book a free consultation today.
Written byKrista & Lantz Starratt, Founders @ Retail for the People