As anyone who has been through the process will tell you, it takes more than simply selling more products to grow your business sustainably and, more importantly, profitably.
As a business leader, there is only so far you can take your retail outfit using your initial systems. Having helped numerous retailers to lay the foundations for their own expansions, Mike Cockfield, managing director of multichannel software specialist Khaos Control Solutions, explains the key considerations that business owners should think about before they take the next steps to growth.
Do your research and check the logistics
What is the purpose of growing your business? Will you be selling new products? Who is your target customer going to be and will you need to look into different commerce channels? Do you want to break into new regions or territories?
Before expanding your business for the sake of it, take the time to think about how it will change your current retail operations and how that will impact on your business. Selling to more people on a variety of new channels is a tempting prospect, but can quickly become overwhelming without the correct systems and processes in place.
Find out how many staff you will realistically require to reach your targets and what skills they will need. Will this expansion mean larger premises or will newer and better equipment be required? Plan a sensible trajectory of continuous growth so that you can balance the books steadily as you go on. There might not be the overnight demand for your goods as you expand, but the more you create, the more channels you can look to sell onto.
Streamline the processes
Inventory control, accounting, orders, purchasing, shipping, payment processing, supplier management, CRM – the multitude of systems involved in running a retail business can be hard to control at the best of times, but an even more formidable task as you grow.
You’ll quickly realise that limited excel spreadsheets and your own website’s content management system won’t let you be as efficient as you need to be. Different staff-members working on a wide variety of programs will also become a real headache – increasing the risk of mistakes or confusion that could seriously harm your business.
Look to invest in Enterprise Resource Planning software that allows you to streamline your processes, supporting you on your journey as you grow. These programs can bring all of your systems together and even automate key tasks – freeing staff up to spend time on more productive jobs. This type of business management software can even be used outside of the office if cloud functionality is included, meaning that you can keep on top of everything wherever you are.
Don’t forget your customer
Building up your retail business is obviously fantastic for you and your staff, but your new strength and size might mean you can offer an even better experience to your customers.
With more efficient systems in place you could look at speeding up delivery times or reduce shipping costs. The increased efficiency, with more robust processes, will enable you to explore multichannel retailing and sell on the marketplaces that give your customers the best buying experience.
As well as creating and supplying high-quality and desirable products, remember to make the process of growth easy and enjoyable for everyone. A good experience for you, your team and your customers is paramount to successful growth.