Thursday, December 4, 2014

Top 5 Mistakes Brick-And-Mortar Retailers Make That Hurt Their Business

By: Donna Knight, Business Analyst
By now, most retailers know that an increasing number of shoppers are buying online. Does this mean that offline businesses should be afraid? Of course not. There are places where you can still see shopping malls with full parking lots and lines of people at the register waiting to check out. The prevalence of online shopping simply means that brick-and-mortar businesses cannot afford to continue running their business the same way they did 10+ years ago.
As a point of sale consultant, I have worked with retail businesses for 15 years, and I still see old and new businesses making the same mistakes other businesses did over a decade ago. Some of these mistakes include:
  1. No Internet Presence: I am always surprised when I come across a well-established business that does not have a web site. Even if you don't want to sell products online, you should at least have a web site that touts your address and phone number, what products and services you offer, and pictures of your store. Many people, like myself, research brick-and-mortar stores online before they actually travel there. And if you don’t want to sell online, you might want to consider whether there are people in other states who are looking for what you sell. They may not have products like yours anywhere near them. You could be leaving money on the table by not selling online. No matter what you decide, you should at least have a simple web site to let potential customers know you’re right there in their neighborhood. 
  2. Using Outdated Cash Registers: The fact is cashiers can make more sales in a shorter period of time with a computerized point of sale system than they can with a traditional cash register. In addition, the reporting functionality of cash registers, if they have any, are no match for those of even the most basic point of sale system. 
  3. Little Or No Security Measures In Place: I’m sure your employees appreciate the fact that you put complete trust in them, but no one knows who is dishonest until merchandise starts disappearing without sales receipts to justify their absence. There are multiple security measures you could be using, including:

    1. Installing security camera systems that not only show you what a salesperson was doing behind the counter, but also what receipt the salesperson was working on at a specific moment in time.
    2. Assigning an individual username and password to each employee so you can track their sales or other activity when using a computer.
    3. Exercising strict control over what employees can do in your business software.
  4. Not Collecting Customer Information: One of the things that successful companies do is follow up with their customers. I recently bought a new car. I got a survey from the sales person who sold the car to me and from the car manufacturer. This company clearly cares about the quality of their service since they follow up after your purchase in multiple ways. The best source of future sales is not new customers, but existing customers. You might consider offering a coupon in exchange for your customer’s contact information. If you don't collect any customer information, you have no way to encourage them to come check out your newest merchandise or your latest sale. If the customer didn’t find everything they wanted and doesn’t plan to return, you’ll never know why if you don’t follow up. Building customer relationships should be an important part of your business. It will help increase your bottom line.
  5. Waiting Years In Between Physical Inventory Counts: How can you be sure you’re not overstocking poorly performing merchandise or underselling due to shortage if you don’t have an accurate count of your merchandise? You should perform an inventory count at least once a year. The largest companies do cycle counts of certain departments more frequently. For example, you might want to keep better track of your best-selling departments so that you can order more merchandise before you run out.
The good news is that all of these mistakes can be corrected. Even if you start by just correcting a few areas, you may see a measurable increase in your sales or decrease in shrinkage. Once you start making small improvements, there’s no limit to how many new insights you can gain into what factors are hurting your business.

Donna Knight has worked for One Step Retail Solutions for 15 years and has been doing training and consulting for 13 years. She is certified in Retail Pro, CounterPoint, QuickBooks Point of Sale, LightSpeed Point of Sale and Retail Teamwork. She has been troubleshooting computer problems for over 20 years, starting out by building her first computer in the 1990s. Donna manages One Step Retail Solutions Knowledgebase. Since she began managing it, the Knowledge Base has gone from 250 articles to 3,071 articles.