There are many things we have learned during our six years in business. Lessons we have learned the hard way and things that have worked from day one. So here are our six tips―one for each year in business! Hope something resonates with you and helps you build your business (no doubt we have lots more to learn as well).
1. Invest in a good point of sale system. The visibility of our analytics has totally changed the way we do business. We use Vend and love it. It has been one of our best business decisions. We are able to view best-sellers, worst sellers, what stock we have left and average sales per day, amount of average sale, etc. For a small business that has grown quickly and at times had multiple locations, this kind of information has been imperative to growth. Figures don't lie.
2. Change up your displays frequently. We have always believed in changing up the fixtures and visuals in our store frequently. Not to mention re-merchandising every week or two weeks to change up the store for regular visitors. Not only is a refresh good for you and your customers but also your staff and keeps fresh eyes on product that isn't moving or is slow.
3. Pick one social media platform and do that well. Most small businesses can't afford a dedicated social media role―someone who handles all the marketing and social media. So if you're like us and social media is one of the many hats you wear, then you should just pick one platform and do that well. Better than trying to do it all and not do it well. We love Instagram as it’s a visual medium that suits our business. But we deleted our twitter account a while ago as we couldn't keep up with it all.
4. Be lean and nimble. We realised that cash flow was an issue twice a year (after each key buying season) and we also realised we sometimes backed product that just wasn't resonating with our customers. So we decided to start buying more frequently but less volume at a time. This means we can react to product quickly and back best-sellers and move on from slow sellers.
Some items are indent (like most kids clothing and shoes) but a big portion of our business is about regular orders. We place restocked and new orders each week. It's more admin and more work but better for cash flow and has kept us lean and nimble so we're not losing money and not holding onto slow sellers.
5. Reward customer loyalty. We have a big return customer base and as a result, our loyalty program ‘Amigos’ is a very important part of our business. We reward new customers with money off next time they come in and for their birthday as well as rewards that are really attainable for regulars who spend a lot. They get free product as well as money/percentage off when they reach different tiers. We have had a great response to this and found it has retained even more loyal shoppers.
6. Know your product. We pride ourselves on good advice and gift giving help. We train our staff on all aspects of the brands we include in our brand family. Important information on if they are organic, fair trade, handmade, where they are made, how they got started, features and benefits, etc. Relaying this to customers helps customers feel a part of this story and that they are being conscious consumers in an era where every dollar counts.