Business Technology

Five things successful small retailers must track in the digital age

4 min read

24 July 2015

As an independent business owner it is sometimes hard to stay on top of everything. Large retail and hospitality chains were traditionally much better at tracking the numbers. But today this is no longer the case.

In the last few years, technology has leveled the playing field. It now allows small businesses to implement disruptive processes, take back the high street, and create an even stronger backbone for Britain’s economy.

By tracking the five things listed below you can increase your profitability and make sure your business runs more efficiently.

(1) Know who your best employees are, and keep them happy

Workforce management tools allow you to get important insight about your employees. You can track sales by employee to identify stronger and weaker team members, and then allocate the best staff to the busiest shifts.

It’s important to let employees know you appreciate their work and reward them their performance. You can also ask strong performers to help other employees with their sales technique.

(2) How many customers come back

It’s often said in business that ‘it costs five times as much to get a new customer as it does to keep an old one.’ Whilst it’s important to exploit marketing channels in order to find new customers, you should be working just as hard to engage your existing customer base and finding opportunities to ‘wow’ them.

There are a variety of loyalty apps available that function a bit like electronic punch cards and allow you to reward your customers for repeat custom. You could also use an iPad POS system that allows you to collect customer emails, enabling you to track how frequently your customers are visiting, and what they’re buying.

(3) How effective your online promotions are

If you are spending money on promoting your business online (on Google or on Facebook, for example), it’s important to measure whether this promotion leads to actual sales. You can give a small discount to customers who see the promotion and use a special codeword or a QR code.

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(4) How popular is your website

Having an online presence and following is a great tool in driving sales. An excellent website is one of the most important tools available to SMEs today. It provides the opportunity to display the full personality of your brand, drive more customers from the web to your offline shop and perhaps sell your products online.

When choosing a platform from which to create your website, make sure you take into account factors such as simplicity and ease of use, user support, ongoing maintenance and price. Try to avoid abbreviations when selecting a URL, as this has the potential to confuse your customers. Instead, consider adding your business type or geography to your name (e.g theoliveryuk.com).

(5) How well you control your costs

As a small business you can analyse your costs and see how they compare to your industry. If you are spending more on rent than your industry peers, for example, your profitability will suffer as a result. If your employees are more efficient and perform better than the industry average, you will generate more sales. Usually you can obtain data about your peers through industry associations.

Jason Richelson is CEO at iPad-based POS service ShopKeep.