The end of a financial year and beginning of a new one can feel like an accomplishment for many retailers, especially after surviving a year like 2020. We already know the retail sector was one of the hardest hit during the pandemic, and it looks like for some parts of the world like Australia, the industry is returning to a more stable environment.
With that in mind, it’s important to remember that even though this financial year is more stable than the last, we’re still feeling the financial impacts of the prior year.
If you’re the type to make resolutions, here’s a few things to keep in mind when setting out your goals and aspirations for the new financial year.
Better company culture
At Zoho, we know that our people and our company’s culture is our strongest asset. This ethos is especially true in retail where customer service can mean the difference between a lifelong customer and a missed opportunity.
With the trials and tribulations of 2020 (somewhat) behind us, it’s important to acknowledge how emotionally draining the past year has been. No matter how much you’re paying your staff, culture plays a pivotal role in their happiness, job satisfaction, which ultimately leads to better customer and business outcomes.
Pay attention to your business’ culture, how it’s changed since the COVID-19 pandemic, and what can be done to better it. Even simple actions like regular face-to-face interactions (when safe to do so), or getting your staff involved with the community, can do a lot to lift staff morale and make them feel valued as part of your organisation.
It’s also important to understand that the pandemic may have changed your employees’ priorities, especially for younger staff. If they’ve been working from home for the past year, they will expect some of the same benefits that environment provided them to carry over into their new environment.
Bring online perks to the storefront
As employees have become accustomed to working from home, customers will also be more savvy when it comes to buying online. Customers have started expecting the same experiences, including customer service and fast fulfilment, from a brick and mortar retailer that they would from an online purchase.
If the nature of your business has changed through the pandemic, it might be time to reassess the space you occupy and how it’s used. Does your floorspace need to be used for retail sales 24/7? Or if you’re fulfilling more orders online, should you dedicate more space to facilitate that? Many businesses are now offering faster delivery times, or “click and collect” options to allow customers to visit a location just to pick up their orders. If you haven’t considered adding more options for your customers to buy from you, this financial year could be the time, but if you have taken this step, you should rethink how your business is set up to accommodate your customers’ buying habits.
There’s no easier way to give your business an advantage than deploying analytics. There’s a bevvy of insights and trends you can identify within your own business by using analytics that you may have never picked up on with the human brain alone, no matter how close to your business you are. Cloud-based analytics engines, like Zoho Analytics for example, can pinpoint problems and solutions by analysing data across your entire business.
Analytics is an obvious advantage for the retail sector, but it’s not the only digital tool businesses can use. Customer relationship management software like Zoho CRM specifically helps businesses to give more insights into their customers, in turn converting more leads and growing revenue. Thanks to Zoho’s app ecosystem, you can even feed data from Zoho CRM into Zoho Analytics for further insights.
Open up to partnerships
While reassessing your business, remember that you don’t need to fulfill every single function yourself. If you’re making deliveries and struggling to fulfill orders, it might be time to rethink your supply chains. COVID-19 has seen businesses invest more in “last-mile delivery”, or the last leg of a delivery when the customer actually receives their order. Take advantage of scalability offered by dedicated courier services, who can not only extend your business’s reach to more customers, but can totally take over all delivery services, giving you back more time to focus on the rest of your business.
Remember that deploying an analytics tool will help you identify areas where outsourcing to a partner will benefit your business.
While the future of retail is looking a lot brighter now than it did in the last financial year, retailers should already know to stay on their toes and keep a close eye on the changing market trends. With uncertainty always rearing its head around the corner, giving yourself as much visibility into your own business with tools like analytics and a CMS could mean the difference between another great financial year or closing the doors forever.
Vijay Sundaram is chief strategy officer at Zoho.