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Small Business Success Index 4

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73 marginal
Capital Access 67
Marketing & Innovation 65
Workforce 76
Customer Service 88
Computer Technology 73
Compliance 92
*Index score is calculated on a 1-100 scale.

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Posts Tagged ‘retail’

5 Quick Tips for Boosting Your Small Business’s Holiday Retail Sales

November 26th, 2010 :: mhaubrich

By Maria Valdez Haubrich

Black Friday, Cyber Monday—the Internet is abuzz with assessments of how profitable these crucial selling days will be for retailers this year, and what strategies work best to capture customers. It’s already Black Friday, but it’s not too late to profit from these 5 quick tips and tactics that can help your retail store sell more this holiday season.

  1. 1. Psych up your sales staff. Personalized service is one of the key differentiators a small retailer has to offer. When customers come to your store, make sure they’re greeted with a friendly smile and get helpful (but not pushy) service from your staff. Yes, this can be a tough time of year to be a retail employee—but your employees should be people who thrive on the challenge.
  2. Make it fun. One reason consumers still come out to bricks-and-mortar stores to shop (instead of going online) is for the fun and festive feeling. Make your store a happy place to be with music, décor, or small party favors for children. Host a visit from Santa or an open house with free hot apple cider and cookies.
  3. Be thoughtful. Little things mean a lot to tired and stressed-out holiday shoppers. Something as simple as placing a few comfy chairs around your store (where tired spouses can rest their feet) or making sure checkout clerks smile at customers in line and thank them for waiting can help.
  4. Clarify store policies. Returns are a key concern for holiday shoppers, who want to make sure their loved ones will be satisfied. Figure out a return policy that works for your business during this busy time (it may differ from your normal one). Then make sure the policy is politely and clearly conveyed to customers, whether by in-store signs, on your receipts or on flyers tucked into shopping bags. Customers are more likely to buy—and to buy more—if they feel confident they can return hassle-free.
  5. Give back. Get involved in community or charitable organizations. Give part of the proceeds from a certain item, or sales on a certain day, to a group that customers are likely to care about. Despite the economy, people are more likely to buy if they feel that their purchase is helping a cause.

The golden rule of holiday sales? It’s not all about discounts or deals. Think about how you like to be treated when you shop—and make sure your store treats customers the same way.

Image by Flickr user Kevin Dooley (Creative Commons)

Retailers Plan to Expand Mobile Commerce

October 26th, 2010 :: Karen Axelton

By Karen Axelton

While only 8.8 percent of retailers currently have a mobile commerce site, 75.9 percent expect to launch one, reports a survey by Internet Retailer conducted in August. Of those who plan to create an m-commerce site, 31.9 percent expect to have it up and running in the next six months and 52.6 percent in under one year.

There’s good reason retailers are moving so quickly: According to the report, mobile commerce could generate sales of $23.4 billion in the U.S. by 2015, up an astounding 875 percent from an estimated $2.4 billion in 2010.

“If online retailers haven’t developed a sense of urgency about mobile commerce yet, they need to,” says Mark Beccue, a senior analyst with Allied Business Intelligence Inc.

Sucharita Mulpuru, a vice president and principal retail research analyst with Forrester Research Inc., agrees. “The age of mobile commerce we are in now is akin to the business-to-consumer e-commerce market of 1997,” she says. “These are still the ‘Wild West’ days of mobile commerce and there’s plenty of room for experimentation.”

Building an m-commerce site doesn’t have to cost a lot, according to the report. Only 25.8 percent of those surveyed have an annual mobile commerce budget of more than $200,000. The majority (61.3 percent) expect to spend $50,000 or less building their site.

The research cites one expert’s estimate that if your business already has an e-commerce site, a version optimized for smartphones and the iPad can be launched in 30 days for about $20,000 to $30,000; a mobile app for iPhones takes about 60 days and costs $50,000 to $150,000.

For those who already have an m-commerce site, sales are also modest. Some 64 percent of merchants have annual mobile retail sales of $250,000 or less; of those, 50 percent report sales under $50,000. But 5.9 percenthave annual mobile sales of over $10 million—and as the number of consumers using smartphones to shop grows, so will mobile sales.

Why are retailers planning to add mobile commerce? Their goals include:

  • 39.1 percent of companies want to attract more visitors and generate more sales.
  • 13.5 percent want to increase sales conversions
  • 12.8 percent want to improve marketing and merchandising
  • 12.2 percent want to increase multichannel sales
  • 10.1 percent want to improve customer service

The key to success in developing an m-commerce site? Take time to assess how your customers want to shop. What devices do they use? What are they looking for? What are their key issues?

Says Mulpuru, “Whoever winds up being the next Amazon of mobile retailing will do so because they developed a strategy that’s based on a clear understanding of how their mobile phone shoppers want to interact with [their] brand.”