The National Retail Federation just released its annual report on the projected growth of retail sales in the U.S. In recent years the growth was limited, but steady, which is in keeping with general economic trends. In 2016, the NRF expects retail sales to grow by 3.1 percent. The CEO of the NRF reported that he is optimistic about the coming year and anticipates increased employment numbers to follow along with the increase in sales numbers. This optimism should be welcome news for all retailers and especially boutique owners.
That said, an increase in retail spending does not guarantee an increase in revenue for your store – those who wish to enjoy a piece of this growing pie will need to stay on top of current retail trends and make an effort to solidify their position in the local marketplace. Below, you’ll find three tips on how to do just that.
But first, how will different parts of the country be affected by this 3.1 percent growth?
Retail in America
Across the country, retailers support local economies, and thus together they make up a significant portion of the American economy as a whole. According to the NRF, 98.6 percent of retailers in the U.S. employ fewer than 50 people. And yet the industry as a whole directly contributes approximately 28,984,100 jobs to the American workforce, beating out other sectors like healthcare and manufacturing. States like California and New York support millions of retail jobs, and even smaller states like Rhode Island have hundreds of thousands of jobs in the sector. Taken together, this is all good news for small businesses.
“A larger economy means more competition.”
Your store can benefit from these circumstances, but it will face fierce competition in doing so. A larger economy means there will be more players on the field, thus creating more risk – but the rewards will be higher as well. Gaining a secure spot in your local marketplace means you’ll be able to increase your sales in proportion to the size of the economy.
Why you need to stand out
With such fierce and growing competition, your store needs to stand out now more than ever. First and foremost, your establishment has to compete with the large chains and behemoth online retailers. Those huge companies have massive marketing budgets, supply chains and inventory capabilities. However, small business owners are still in the fight. A boutique store may not be able to beat a chain retailer in inventory variety, but they can certainly beat them in terms of customer service, quality of products and unique offers.
If your store can carve out a niche of its own, it will be much more likely to succeed in the marketplace, especially when in competition with other small businesses. Tools like curb appeal, social interaction, and customer service play huge roles in this arena. Read on for tips on how to make this year great and grab a piece of the growing market.
Tips to make 2016 sale figures the best yet
1. Focus on your brand
As you aim to increase your sales, you should take a serious look at how your brand is presented to potential customers. To some retailers, a good brand is their number one asset. It’s what defines their store and separates them from their competitors. If your brand doesn’t do this – it’s time for a complete makeover. If it does, but you’re still unsatisfied with it, there are few things you can do to tweak your image.
The easiest is to make sure all of your visual elements are cohesive. Everything from your visual displays and mannequins to your pamphlets, fliers and social media pages should look like they follow the same design book. Our C3 custom color mannequins are a fun way to weave your signature color throughout your establishment.
2. Go over your store with a fine-toothed comb
If the first tip was a broad-stroke approach, then consider this one a complete overhaul of the little details. Start in your storeroom and work your way to the front door, checking every small portion of your store for ways that you could improve them. Make a list to help you organize your thoughts. If you’ve never done this before, you may find yourself with a big number of tasks ahead of you – but don’t panic just yet. Prioritize a few of the important ones – or those you can complete quickly – and do those first. The rest will follow.
Check out some of our racks and shelves for ideas about how you could improve the most basic visual foundations of your store. You may even want to consider adding a scent system to your showroom. Scents can play an important role in the psychology of the shopper, and our scent systems fit any budget. Contact us for a sample strip of the scents you’re interested in.
3. Refigure your marketing budget
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, setting a reasonable marketing budget is a great way to increase your return on investment. If you already have a marketing budget in place, take some time to go over it and check your records to see which strategies worked and which did not. Then use that information to make adjustments. If you don’t have a lot of time to constantly monitor your budget, try to revisit it at least once a quarter. Even a few adjustments a year will help to keep you on track and on top of your spending.
All of this comes down to time. If you can invest more time into your store – and do so in a deliberate, self-conscious manner – you’ll be able to see your business grow in 2016. So focus on your brand and look for ways to separate yourself from the competition. And as always, rely on us to serve all of your display needs.