Retailing: 5 ways to improve your business


Retail is a fast-moving sector with great rewards for innovative businesses, whether focused on the local market in Northern Ireland or beyond. Spotting market trends is important to stay ahead of the competition and provide products which customers want to buy.

It's hard to stay successful in retail by standing still, so be on the lookout for ways to improve your business - here are five ideas to get you started:

  1. Get smarter at marketing. Traditional advertising forms - print, billboard, broadcast media - are important, but may not provide a good, measurable return for your retail business. Social media marketing, done well, can be a powerful way of capturing new sales. You might be able to partner with other businesses for mutual marketing benefit, or perhaps opening a pop-up shop in a new location or with a new product could drive customer interest - see marketing options for retail businesses.
  2. Refresh your in-store merchandising. You've convinced potential customers to come to your store - what is the experience like? Have you maximised the opportunities of your window display? Are your products arranged in an attractive way? Is your layout designed well? Have you thought about different pricing tactics in different areas of your store - see visual merchandising for retailers.
  3. Is it time for a change? Keeping your finger on the pulse is a skill, but taking a decision to radically change your retail business can be daunting. New products bring new opportunities, and customers' needs are always changing - can you boost your profits by diversifying your product range, or partnering with service businesses to improve your offering to customers? See how to explore new retail opportunities.
  4. Think about selling online. The internet offers a chance to rapidly expand your retail sales and gain valuable insight into customers' needs both at home and in new markets. But you need to have the right products, the right sales pipeline (online marketing, a good website, secure online payment options, robust order fulfilment systems, excellent customer service) to have the best chance of success - see advantages and disadvantages of online retail.
  5. Find support in local business networks. One of the best ways to boost your retail business reputation is to get involved in local networks, whether through trade associations, enterprise agencies or charity work. These are also great places for informal advice and support on business issues, along with seeking more formal training schemes and financial support offered by government and business support organisations - see retail business networking and support for growing a retail business.

If you're interested in working for yourself in the retail sector see how to start a retail business. You can find lots more guidance in our new section on retail.