Getting a small business off the ground is the hardest part of any stage of running your own business. There are so many unknown factors and extreme risks that come with the territory. In fact, about 50% of businesses don’t make it past 5 years. So if you’ve made it past that point, way to go!
Which means you may be wondering how to grow a retail business. Once you’re established and feel confident that business is stable, it’s important to find ways to improve. But what is the best way to expand a retail business? It takes a lot of work and planning to set up your business for growth. So let’s look at the best ways to grow a successful retail small business.
- Add New Locations
- Sell on New Channels
- Expand Your Product Line
- Set Up Pop-Up Shops
- Partner with Businesses
- Use Automation
- Invest in Modern Marketing Methods
- Improve the Shopping Experience
1. Adding New Locations
Arguably the most obvious of the bunch, adding new locations to your retail business is certainly a way to grow your business.
Of course, this must be a carefully measured decision; opening a new location requires a massive amount of work and usually a sizeable investment.
Remember that expanding your locations isn’t as simple as just making an exact copy of your existing store. While you want to capitalize on a successful formula, a new location means there will be a new customer base. What worked in one neighborhood or city will not necessarily work in another.
With your operations and store logistics, though, you want to keep them uniform throughout all locations.
Keep your procedures, policies, communication channels, multi-location POS, payroll, customer service, etc. the same. This allows you to easily measure important KPIs from just one store or compare many locations. Streamlining procedures at all locations also keeps onboarding and training more simple and organized.
Adding locations to your business is a surefire way to expand, but make sure you’re doing it right. Waiting is better than pursuing risky short-term gains.
2. Sell on New Channels
Retailers are blessed with having more sales channels on which to sell their products than ever before. And expanding your business to a new sales channel instead of an entire new location is often a safer and less costly way to grow.
- The first place to start is your own eCommerce store. While starting a whole new store may seem like an overwhelming task, getting a simple online business off the ground is easier than ever.
- eCommerce platforms, like WooCommerce and or Magento, make this simple for even the most tech illiterate. Just make sure that your eCommerce platform integrates with your point of sale: you need to make sure sales and inventory are recorded under one system.
- Online third-party marketplaces are even easier. Like a consignment shop, they take a cut of each sale, but if you don’t have the time or marketing power to start your own, selling on channels like Amazon, WalMart, Etsy, or eBay makes it easy to get started without making it a massive investment.
- Finally, social media has quickly emerged as a fast-growing sales channel, especially if you already have a large following and established brand presence on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.
- You can link your eCommerce store to social media posts, or sell directly on the platform itself. Additional services have made this even easier that further facilitate the buying process, taking nearly all of the burden off the seller themselves.
3. Expand Your Product Line
Expanding what you sell is another great way to grow your retail business. As long as the growth is in line with your established brand image, it’s wise to introduce new products or services.
Think about additional related products that a shopper at your store might also like. Also consider who the shopper might be shopping with or shopping for. Below are a few examples:
- A liquor store sells ice, mixers, and hangover “cures” in addition to alcohol
- A department store adds some last-minute impulse purchases aimed at kids who are with their parents shopping
- An outdoors store focused on environmentally friendly product lines
These are simple examples but you get the idea. Remember to sell to as broad of an audience that still makes sense for your brand.
When you do expand your product line, remember to test every item that’s added and measure its performance against existing products. You can use a retail POS system to make this easy. Detailed product reports make it simple to measure the success of each new product and allow you to make an educated decision on what’s best for business.
4. Set Up Pop-Up Shops
Pop-ups are a fun way to build brand recognition and get shoppers excited about your store. They’re also relatively easy and affordable to get started. And they come with a handful of other great benefits for retail growth:
- Pop-ups allow online merchants to interact in person with shoppers.
- They’re an easy way to get some basic media attention from influencers and local outlets.
- You can test a new product to see how it sells.
- They allow you to move through slow inventory to clear out much needed warehouse space.
While a pop-up alone may not be considered true growth of a business, it’s a great first step to take towards larger retail growth. To learn more, check out our post on opening a pop-up shop.
5. Partner with Businesses
For an even safer introduction of a new product, service, or market, partner with another established business. This means you get to bypass the majority of the initial investment. The partnering business already has the resources and infrastructure setup to reach your target market.
If you sell children’s clothing and were thinking of expanding into young adult, find a local business that already sells clothing to young adults. Ask if they would carry a few of your test products and see how they do.
Partnering with other local businesses is another great way to build your brand within a neighborhood and community. It shows that you’re invested and a part of the area where your store is.
6. Use Automation
Many day-to-day tasks can now be automated with affordable services. This frees up more of your time to focus on big picture ideas instead and help your business grow.
Automated business tasks have become vast. Below are a handful of the most popular:
- Social media posts – use scheduling apps to queue social media posts so that you don’t have to worry about it every day.
- Sales and product reports – a great point of sale can seamlessly generate detailed reports and metrics on your store’s performance overall, as well as individual product performance.
- Accounting – integrate your accounting service with your POS and suddenly taxes and payroll becomes a breeze.
- CRM – gone are the days of punch cards. Use an automatic loyalty program to ensure that more customers use the system.
- Email marketing – email lists and databases are managed by simple apps that make sending out promotional emails much easier.
There are MANY more ways that small businesses can automate small daily tasks, but those are a few great ways to get started. You’ll notice the change immediately.
7. Invest in Modern Marketing Methods
There are a few new ways that retailers should be marketing their business in addition to some of the more traditional types of marketing. Together, they should help your small business expand.
- Build a great website. Getting more organic search traffic through basic SEO best practices is a great way to increase your reach. Optimize all landing pages and write a blog to make sure that you’re content is reaching your potential base of customers.
- Start paid advertising online. There is an incredible array of paid advertising options available. Start by setting up accounts on Google, Bing, and any relevant social media networks. In combination with your SEO efforts, this will greatly boost your online visibility.
- Kick off an email marketing campaign. Start building a database of customer contact information so that you can easily reach them with promotional information. Emails are the easiest way of doing so. They are generally unobtrusive and extremely cost effective.
- Set up your Google Business account, too. It’s free, and makes it easy for shoppers to find out basic information about your store and how to contact you.
8. Improve the Shopping Experience
With consumers having more choice than ever, it’s critical that your business stands out in some way. Creating a great shopping experience is still one of the best ways of doing so.
- Start by instituting uniform training programs so that each of your team members knows exactly how to provide excellent service. With a great training program in place, you’ll leave no room for miscommunication.
- Focus on first impressions and ensure that each customer receives outstanding service from the moment they enter your store.
- Offer samples if possible. People love to try things before committing to a purchase, especially if it’s a higher end item.
- Optimize your eCommerce store for speed and efficiency. Make it easy to checkout and create a sitemap that is intuitive and straightforward.
- Improve the check out times for a speedy end to the shopping experience. No one likes waiting in line, especially with buy online pickup in store and delivery options available for many products.