Being a successful brick-and-mortar retailer or online seller isn’t easy. Between setting up a legal structure to deciding what to include in your business plan, small (and big) business details can be mistakenly overlooked or brushed aside.
This year, set yourself up for success by ironing out the details you’ve overlooked while prepping orders and managing your social media accounts. These five retail business success tips will help you establish a strong foundation so that you can spend less time getting things in order and more time doing what you love.
Let’s jump right in.
1. Business Insurance
Business insurance is essential for protecting yourself as a business owner, even if you’re the only person “employed” by your business. The question you may be wondering is: What type of coverage is necessary? According to the guide, What Type of Business Insurance Do I Need, liability insurance and personal property coverage are the most important types of business insurance for retailers.
That’s not all, retailers operating in most states need the following additional coverage:
- General Liability (Important)
- Business Owner’s Policy
- Workers Comp
- Auto Insurance
In most cases, you can get this insurance as one package, making it easy to purchase and manage on an ongoing basis. Compare rates and get insured so you can enjoy a little extra peace of mind.
The dreaded 5-letter word—taxes. No one likes doing taxes or even thinking about them, yet nearly all small businesses in the United States are subject to some form of corporate income or gross receipts tax on a state level.
If this is your first year in business, you may not have thought about taxes yet, so your first step is applying for an Employee Identification Number (EIN).
Next, meet with a tax lawyer and accountant. The tax lawyer can make sure you’re set up for success, with all the right paperwork filed, and an accountant can offer on-going financial management, which is vital for keeping your taxes in order.
Familiarize yourself with your tax requirements of retailers by reading through these two resources:
- Small Business Administration (SBA): Small Business Guide – Pay Taxes
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center
3. Ecommerce Website
Without a proper ecommerce site, it’s difficult to create a smooth and seamless shopping experience from physical to digital for customers. It’s also harder to increase your customer base beyond your local reach.
Investing time and money into getting this service up and running is well worth your time this year. A website is valuable for all sellers, even those who sell exclusively on Etsy or Amazon because it allows you to drive brand awareness—which means, making your brand more recognizable.
When building your website, keep the following details in mind:
- The user experience should be seamless. Buttons are clear, navigation is easy and the check-out process, if you plan to sell on your website, is easy to understand, follow, and is error-free.
- Include testimonials and reviews, which drive social proof. In a 2017 BrightLocal survey, 85 percent of respondents said they trust customer reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- Include a blog so that you can show your expertise to potential customers. Even just one blog post each month will add to your SEO value while showing that you walk the walk and talk the talk. See more about this below.
Also, choose an ecommerce site that can integrate into your POS system like ShopKeep and BigCommerce. This ensures the process of ordering and fulfilling is seamless. It also makes it less labor-intensive for you because you can manage inventory from both channels under one umbrella. It’s also easier to see sales data about what’s working and what’s not; What products are selling the most? What discounts are people using?
4. Get More From Your Blog
Creating content is always challenging for small businesses owners—it’s hard to connect your efforts with concrete profit numbers, not to mention a blog is exhausting to maintain while running a business.
Still, it serves as a valuable tool to drive authentic engagements and brand impressions. Instead of cutting it all together, or accepting subpar results, use these tips to get more from your blog this year.
- Promote more efficiently: There are many ways to promote your content, with a social media marketing strategy being one of the best. If you feel like your posts aren’t getting engagement, drive clicks to your blog posts with a new tactic, like joining group Pinterest boards, FaceBook ads, or publishing on LinkedIn. Track the channels to determine where you’re getting the most engagement from your target market and focus more of your effort there.
- Write and schedule in batches: Instead of making time to write every week, use downtime to create a few pieces of content and then schedule them to go live over the course of the month. Get it all done at once and you’ll have less to worry about and plenty of content to promote. You can even get employees involved and have them create a few posts for you.
- Create blog ads: Use a tool like HelloBar to drive people from your blog to your online store. You’ll be surprised how useful this free tool can be for capturing the interest of readers. The best part, you can start monetizing your blog, which may help you see the benefit of making time for more writing.
5. Online Business Data
You need access to the right data to optimize your business and take it to the next level. For most online retailers, this means using analytics to track essential metrics such as:
- Site traffic
- Top referring sources (where your traffic comes from)
- Total conversions + conversion rate
- Most sold products (annually and per season)
Most ecommerce platforms will have much of this data built-in, making it easy for you access and track. If you’re using your website, connect it to a Google Analytics account to make sure data is coming through and available for you to see. (This video will be helpful if you’ve never done this before.)
Once connected, use a spreadsheet to track progress over time. Spend an afternoon at the end of each month collecting the data and then analyze what you see. Modify and plan based on what the numbers tell you.
Get Your Business In Order
You’ve already done the hard part: starting a retail business. Now it’s time to handle the details, and these five retail business success tips will help you get started.