For the most part, the stresses of the holiday season have passed, and suppliers and retailers can now breath a much-deserved sigh of relief. As with each new year, it is important not to rest on our laurels, and to carry the previous season’s momentum with us into the next. This means looking ahead and making some big decisions for your business. Investing in new technologies, choosing among new marketing and sales platforms, and managing a changing workforce are just a few of the challenges that are golden opportunities for small and medium businesses looking to get an advantage over competitors this year.
So for those looking to start off the new year with a bang, let’s take a look at a few of the very possible retail and management trends for 2015.
1. Smaller Retail Venues
With two of the biggest retailers in the United States, Target and Walmart, announcing plans for small retail locations in cities across the country, suppliers may want to alter their selling strategy a bit.
Take a look at what a Target Express will look like in this virtual tour. Notice anything? It’s 20,000 sq. ft.—Less than 1/5th the size of a traditional target. This means less shelf space, and usually, higher prices. Getting into these locations will be no easy task for suppliers and manufacturers, who will need a proven product and a unique advantage to grab a share of the huge profits these corporations bring in. Here are a couple of ideas to consider before approaching retailer negotiations:
- Smaller Packaging
Less shelf space means less product, right? Not necessarily. Look into a product redesign, and consider offering a mobile or travel size version of your product. Getting your product on an eye-level shelf may not be plausible right now, but prove that you can sell—and sell a lot, and that may change in the future.
- Give Your Product Image More Value
In general, U.S. cities tend to have higher per capita income than their suburban and rural counterparts. If these new retail locations are carrying less product, they will need to make up for it with higher margins. If your product doesn’t already fall into the high-end category, try bumping it up a few notches with some specialized packaging or promotional materials.
2. Teams Go Mobile
The developing trend of workforce flexibility and team mobility really picked up in 2014, and is showing no signs of slowing down. By now, most small business will have at least heard about BYOD or COPE strategies, but implementation of those strategies may have been stalled due to investment apprehension. 2015 will be a tipping point for many employers, where a decision regarding a mobile strategy will be necessary for survival. This goes beyond team management and includes the following:
- Hardware Strategies Evolve
As mentioned above, BYOD and COPE strategies will soon be necessary for any organization with employees working in the field. The ability to communicate purchase orders, retail audits, and client information in real-time is no longer a luxury to be afforded only by the enterprise-level corporations. Affordable Field Activity Management software exists for SMBs, and allows for a whole new level of data collection and analysis. There are pros and cons to each mobile hardware strategy, and while the decision ultimately lies in the hands of the business owner or team manager, implementation will require a company-wide effort.
- Responsive Sites & Mobile Ads
Neglecting your online presence is no longer an option for small businesses, as the resources exist for those with little to no development experience to create their own website in minutes. According to StatCounter, mobile internet usage rose 73% within the United States during 2014 alone. As a new generation of spenders already well-versed in mobile usage and technologies enters the workforce, expect spoils of war to go to those who adapt quickly.
What else do you need to know going forward?
2015 is a time to adapt, and many once-respected retailers will fall deep into obscurity, maintaining tired business practices. RadioShack and Sears are among the many established businesses who have failed to re-create themselves in a generation of change, and who have felt the effects of their apprehension on their bottom-line.
So as we go forward into a new year full of opportunity, embrace change, educate yourself and your employees, and be willing to take risks and invest in new information collection, employee management, and data analysis opportunities.
Cam Garrant is the marketing manager at Repsly. Passionate about delivering quality content and data-driven insights, Cam's interests include SEO, basketball, and bad jokes.