If your retail business is struggling at the moment, you certainly aren’t alone. Tough financial times and the cost of living crisis have made people more cautious than ever when it comes to spending, with some reducing their spending completely and others more particular about who they spend with and where.
As a retail business, this level of care from a customer’s point of view can make selling and maintaining a business a tricky thing to do. Keeping up with changing times and ensuring that you are carefully managing your business, customers and assets can help set you apart from the rest and become the go-to store in your industry – But what needs managing, and where do you start? Here, we’ve compiled some of the most common areas that retail businesses struggle with, and some solutions you could try:
Changing Customer Expectations
As the world changes around us, customers are constantly evolving their needs, wants and demands when it comes to the brands they choose to shop with. Customer demands can change rapidly, sometimes even on a week-by-week basis, and often due to changes in the world as a whole. Whether it’s the products they want to see, where they’re shopping (online or in-store) or even what they expect from their experience, keeping on top of these changing demands is essential to ensuring that you maintain good standing in the industry.
The best way to keep on top is to study not only your consumer’s habits but also customers in the wider industry you operate within. Learn their habits and behaviours, and adapt your business accordingly where you can. Surveys and feedback can be great ways to do this, but online tracking such as Google Analytics and Search Console can offer similar benefits online.
Not Protecting Your Business
It can be easy to overlook key things your retail business could benefit from when money is tight, and that includes making sure you have the right insurance policies in place. While some are mandatory, others can be additional benefits that help protect you and your customers in case things go wrong. In a time where health and safety are strongly on our minds following the pandemic, Public Liability Insurance is a must. It can offer you financial support in cases where a third party is injured or falls ill as a result of your business activity, offering both you and the customer peace of mind in these unfortunate circumstances.
Similarly, Shop Insurance protects your business’s premises against damage, malicious damage, theft and more. Goods in Transit insurance can also provide protection if you deliver your products to the local area, or are transferring stock between stores.
Poor Brand Loyalty
If you’re finding that your existing customers aren’t returning to you after a purchase, you could be struggling with your brand loyalty. People are more impatient in today’s society and less likely to forgive bad experiences, so it’s more important than ever before to not only improve your customer retention strategies but also to handle any negative experiences more efficiently. However, this particular issue could also work in your favour – where stock can still be low following the struggles of the pandemic, customers are seeking out smaller brands and businesses that offer the same or similar products faster and at better prices.
Doing some research into your market to work out where you can fill a gap could put you ahead and encourage loyalty from new customers. Whether it’s better pricing, good loyalty schemes, faster shipping or even just a better and more personalised experience overall, you can undercut and improve on big chains and gain customers that might have had a bad experience elsewhere.
Just like customers are willing to leave and shop somewhere else, staff are becoming more and more likely to resign from jobs they aren’t the right fit for and move elsewhere. Competitive pay rates, poor staff support and worsening mental health states are making it harder for people to stay in one place and for a business, this can often lead to high staff turnover and hefty costs in the meantime or, in some cases, understaffing. An understaffed business isn’t likely to be efficient or be able to manage high customer volumes, so it’s crucial to find ways to hire the right staff and maintain them. To find the right staff, you should look for hires who:
- Have values that align with your businesses
- Are happy to communicate what they expect from the job, including how it aligns with their career profession
- Have the right skillset for your company, so they don’t go in overwhelmed and underqualified
Once you have the right staff on hand, your next job is to ensure they remain engaged, content and comfortable in the job in order to ensure they stay on for longer. Some ways you could do this include:
- Offer training and upskilling opportunities
- Offer competitive salaries and benefits where possible
- Keep training and staff communication engaging at all times, not just at the welcome meeting!
- Adopt a positive and compassionate work environment
- Offer mental health support that staff can use
- Train all staff on mental health and how to handle both colleagues and customers who may have additional support needs
By creating the right environment at work, you can create a place where staff want to come and work. There will always be days when some staff members may not be at their best or the most efficient, but if you can foster the right attitudes and values, you can help to encourage and support them and ultimately improve your business’s success and atmosphere when customers come in!
For more help with your retail business and how insurance can help you protect your assets, we are on hand to help. Get in touch with Ashburnham Insurance for more information on 0800 1696137.