It’s time to strategize for 2017

Dear 2016, thanks for all the lessons. We’ll be sure to learn from our mistakes and hopefully never make them again.

Dear 2017, we’re ready for you. And to show you just how prepared we are, we’ve created a list of awesome resolutions so your small business can hit the ground running this year.

Look around you – technology is touching every bit of our lives, you have to stop and smell the silicon. The time has come to assess your technology. Does it address your needs sufficiently?Upgrading your programs isn’t about having the coolest and newest tools around. It’s about streamlining your operations and improving the customer experience.

Manage your customers online
Anyone who’s had experience setting up a business or running one on a day-to-day basis knows that keeping everything in order is a balancing act. Make use of the data intelligence your point of sale system offers you and make your notes, reminders and offers based on the reports you have access to.

Build your brand and target the right audience
Take time this year to understand your story and create an overall image that conveys who you are. Once you have a clear brand identity, align your target audience to such and you’re already on your way to a much smarter marketing plan.

Organize events
Bring the opportunities right to your front door! Create a networking event or hold a grand opening to spread word of your business.

Use your calendar
Keep a calendar of national and internet holidays to get in the festive mood. Remember, satisfied shoppers are more likely to return, so don’t shy away from having a blowout sale and offering a killer deal. Have a little fun!

Bring your website to life
Your website is perhaps the first view of your business to a new customer so be a store or a restaurant or a clothing brand, flaunt your talent by showing your visitors you’re totally up to date with the latest design trends.

Stay up to date
It wasn’t too long ago when Facebook was the new kid on the block, boasting a reputation that it was just for procrastination rather than a tool for businesses to take advantage of. Today, Snapchat is the next big thing. But since social trends change all the time and new platforms pop up overnight, it’s best to figure out what channels your consumers are using and bring your marketing efforts to them.

Competition in the marketplace has become fiercer than ever, more and more small businesses are paying attention to detail and treating their customers better. Forward-thinking retailers are upping their game though omnichannel shopping, speedier order fulfillment, and competitive pricing. While automation is great, personal interface leaves more of an impression so ensure that your game plan includes interacting with your customers in non invasive ways. Even a simple, good old fashioned personal note sometimes will be enough.

Open up new sales channels
Get all your sales channels covered by ensuring that shoppers can buy from you no matter where they are or what device they’re using. For a lot of retailers, this could mean setting up ecommerce and mobile websites. And most importantly, if you do use different channels, now is the time to make sure that they’re connected and are able to work together.

Manage Inventory super well
If you haven’t stayed on top of your inventory in 2016, then January is the perfect time to do a physical inventory count. Why? The beginning of the year is usually a period when your SKUs are at their lowest. For best results, get organized by mapping your store and make use of a digital inventory system when counting items. And you may want to implement cycle counting, which is the process of partially counting items on a continuous basis. This helps you stay on top of your inventory without having to close your store or devote too much time counting your entire inventory. Or better still, invest in a point of sale system that manages this effortlessly for you and as cloud based so you can access the information from literally anywhere.

Take care of your staff
It’ll be challenging to achieve record-breaking success if you don’t have your employees backing you up, so set aside some time for a motivational speech. Recognize the great things that people achieved in 2016, and encourage—or even incentivize—them to do better. Why not offer rewards to your associates who bring the most delight to customers? And if you have any plans on how to increase performance in 2017 (i.e. upgrades, new initiatives), make sure your team is in the loop. You may also want to take suggestions and get everyone’s input on how to improve results.

Give back
It always feels good to be part of a greater cause – so get creative and find a charity that you like and share the love. Let people know you’re contributing by adding a strip to your website that announces the charity of your choosing or use a lightbox to grab your site viewers’ attention.

Have a beautiful year, everyone!

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