NFRN CEO Paul Baxter on how to grow sales and improve your business.

At this time of year it is traditional to reflect on the changes we want (or need) to make in our professional lives and, once inspired, to set worthy goals that will enable us to make that new start and transform our businesses.

Retailers everywhere are facing ever increasing costs – thanks to the latest national minimum wage rises that came into effect last October and those planned for 2017, pension auto enrolment and for those who sell newspapers and magazines ever upward carriage charges and margins that continue to be squeezed by publishers even tighter.  Maximising sales at the till is, therefore, more important than ever.

The seven point plan below will, I believe, allow independent retailers to grow sales, have better looking stores and enjoy greater profitability in the year ahead.

So if you only do seven things in 2017 make sure it’s implementing the following top tips!

  1. Replace your tobacco gantry with an overhead solution or under the counter tobacco storage.  To reduce stock losses tailor your range. Introduce an e-cigarette gantry or display solution and use the space where your tobacco gantry once stood for generating new and more profitable sales or to extend your alcohol offering. Whatever you do, make sure this space is reserved for higher margin products.
  2. Take control of your news and magazines.  Review your range, strip out poor performers, increase stocks of volume products and then fix and control your range via Newspro or range management.
  3. Be first with new products and promotions – be they national or local – and make sure you display them prominently.
  4. Engage with your customers and not just face to face.  Use social media and advertise your shop on the internet. That said, why not give back to the community by raising funds for local causes?
  5. Improve your technology. If you have EPoS use it to manage your stock and ranging and if you don’t, get it!  Smaller shops can be vulnerable to crime so beef up your security by upgrading your CCTV. Your staff and customers all deserve to feel safe.  Become a local hub.
  6. Raise your standards. Good store design and product merchandising are crucial to retail success. This should be a basic for you, not a bonus for your customers! Shoppers demand clean, bright and professional looking stores where they can find the products they want quickly, so make sure that what you offer. Visit our Retail Standards page for advice.
  7. Be famous for something.  After all, everyone wants to know why they shop with you.

Whatever you do, relish the challenge and I promise: that throughout 2017 the NFRN will continue to provide Independent retailers with as much help and practical support as possible to help grow sales, reduce costs and trade successfully.

This article first appeared in Retail Express

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