Jason Stockwood, CEO at business insurer, Simply Business, offers five top tips to help UK retailers beat the post-January slump
February is a pretty miserable month for retailers. The January bounce is well and truly over, and businesses across the country are feeling the pinch.
Maintaining the momentum can be difficult in the winter months, particularly once the sales have finished. But in this tough economic climate, where every single pound counts, few retailers can afford to rest. We have put together some tips to help you get over the post-January slump.
Don’t abandon marketing
It is all too tempting to cut back on marketing when cash is tight. Many retailers enter a period of retrenchment after January, preferring to hunker down and wait for the worst to pass. But it is important to understand you need to fight even harder for every pound spent at this time – and that requires you to keep up your marketing efforts. Teaming up with other retailers in your area could provide a good opportunity to make your marketing budget go further. Think about how you could cross-sell your products with non competitors or whether you could host collaborative events to draw consumers into your retail area.
Keep up promotions
It is also important to remember price will remain a key factor in purchasing decisions for both consumers and businesses this year. As such, you should consider extending your January promotions – and you should think about further deals to entice customers throughout the year. If you can’t compete on price, you need to make your offering desirable in other ways, for example by offering the very best customer service in your field.
It has rarely been more important for retailers to stand out from the crowd. A strong brand identity and a unique proposition are key requirements for success in the sector. Consider ways that you can differentiate yourself from your competitors – particularly if you are operating in a crowded field. This might involve, for example, providing unique levels of service or quality or strengthening the way you communicate your brand’s core values.
Broaden your horizons
Don’t get stuck in a retail rut. Consider ways you can broaden your horizons – for example by investigating new products. Could you expand or consolidate your market share by offering customers something they can’t get elsewhere, or by incorporating new products into your existing proposition in order to provide a one-stop service? Alternatively, could you strengthen your position by taking on customers from ailing competitors? Analysts expect to see a new wave of retail failures in the coming months – and this provides you with a potential opportunity to expand your customer base.
Finally, the post-sales lull provides retailers with an important opportunity for reflection. Take some time to consider what went well during 2011, and what you can improve on in 2012. Choose a few key performance indicators to give you an idea of how your business is doing. These will help you to determine whether or not your firm is on the right track – in the coming months and throughout the year.