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5 Ways Retail Startups Can be Proactive During a Crisis

Posted by Fara Panah, Vice President on May 21, 2020 7:45:00 AM
Fara Panah, Vice President
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COVID-19 has impacted everyone in the United States personally, professionally, and/or financially. Startups, especially newer retailers, have been hit hard because they do not always have the cash flow, processes and systems in place to handle this drastic of a change.  

The good news is that there are plenty of things new retailers can do during a time of crisis to not only mitigate the damage done by the abrupt change, but also set themselves up for success when it’s all over.

Our most successful retail clients are being PROACTIVE rather than reactive during COVID-19. Unlike their competition, they are investing in their organization by focusing streamlining their existing processes,  finding new ways to provide a higher quality customer experience, and ultimately future-proofing their retail startup so that if something happens in the future, they are ready.

After taking a closer look at what they are doing amidst a crisis, we’ve put together a list of the 5 things you can do to replicate their success:

Be Adaptable
One huge thing to note here is that crisis is inevitable. It may be few and far between, but it is inevitable nonetheless. Whether you’re talking about an economic downturn, a natural disaster, or as we’ve seen most recently, a global pandemic, you need to be prepared to pivot your business and be flexible to change so that you can handle anything that’s thrown at you.

So how do you go about doing that?

One of the biggest things that people struggled with during COVID-19 is being able to get their employees to work from home quickly and efficiently so that their business as a whole does not go on standstill. That means that people across all functions and departments of your organization need to be able to access company information securely from anywhere. Check out how our team is adjusting to working from home.

It’s important to invest some additional time to put together contingency plans for your organization. And why not take the time where working from home is the only thing your business can do, to invest in processes and systems that give your employees extra flexibility in the future as well?

Embrace the Digital Age
Sell online. Digital transformation may seem like a huge buzzword right now, but there is some merit to it as well. If you’ve only sold in brick and mortar stores in the past, it’s time to reach people when they are looking to do research and make a purchase. Having a webstore allows you to service current and potential customers any time, anywhere. Especially now! People are at home and bored. They have plenty of time to do research online and are making all their current purchases online. And it doesn’t limit you to your current geographical location in the future. What better time to make the change?

That being said, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind when considering taking your retail startup online.

  • Make sure your ecommerce of choice connects to your back end systems otherwise you will be giving yourself much more trouble than it’s worth.
  • Spend some time looking for the best ecommerce for you to ensure that you have a long term, sustainable solution
  • Take a look at your current processes to ensure you can handle a higher volume of orders

If you need help in selecting the right ecommerce solution, we’ll be publishing a subsequent blog that will help you with your selection process once you get there. If you’re looking for more immediate help, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Enhance your Warehouse Capabilities
Whether you choose to continue only selling in your brick and mortar store or you decide to invest in an ecommerce solution, you need to make sure you do not have any “waste” in your current order fulfillment process. A lot of that comes down to how your warehouse is set up. Do you have the pick pack ship capabilities needed to streamline your warehouse processes and make sure that your warehouse does not become a bottleneck in the future?

It’s important to also spend some time getting a real understanding of what you have in your warehouse. Having real-time inventory information will help you:

  • Understand how much inventory you have on hand to sell
  • Prevent unnecessary refunds for customers who purchase items you do not have in stock
  • Help you understand how much inventory you need to purchase in the future to prevent overstocking and understocking

Provide a Better Shopping Experience
The experience you provide your customers are lasting. It’s what sets you apart from the competition. So ask yourself, what kind of experience do I want my customers to have when they interact with my brand, my store, the products I sell, and my people?

Once you have reflected on those answers, take some time to really analyze your customers’ buying patterns to see how you can provide your ideal customer experience. There are plenty of software solutions out there that can help you get a better understanding of your ideal customer, potential new targets for the products that you sell, and what they are looking for. If you’d like us to walk you through some options, or if you’d like to talk to a retail expert, we’d be happy to chat with you about your goals and how we can help you get there.

Provide your customers with confidence. That means less mistakes with orders, inventory issues, and if they do call in, providing them with top level service. It’s tough to do that if you are relying on siloed systems in order to provide them with service. Consider having either an integrated ecommerce and back end system or looking for a cloud solution that has ecommerce built in. Either option will help you provide the speed and quality of service your retail customers expect in this day and age.

Reevaluate All Your People, Systems, and Processes
You have the time. Take a closer look at all that you have in place now. What problems are preventing you from growth? Is it a personnel issue that should be remedied, a systems issue that is keeping you from pulling the data you need to get you to the next level, or is it simply a broken process?

It’s the perfect time to take a look at the infrastructure you have in place and see where it can be improved. Ask yourself what you need to do to:

  • Save Time
  • Save Money
  • Use Less Resources
  • Delight your customers

If you need help looking at your business from a wholistic point of view, we can help! Our staff is trained to get curious and understand the root cause of your business challenges and work with you to identify a long term, sustainable solution that will help you reach all of your growth goals. We specialize in helping retail startups run their business as optimally as they can. Contact us to talk through how we can help you adapt to the current environment and set yourself up for success once this is all over!

Let's start a conversation. 

Tags: Reporting, Customer Service, Inventory Management, eCommerce, Warehouse Management System (WMS)

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