Planning For January

Planning For January

Retail is a dynamic sector where change is a constant. One thing is certain though, Christmas 2017 starts on January 1st in what is a crucial month for independent retailers. Armed with the facts and figures from the Christmas season just past and a fresh perspective on what makes customers and your business tick, it’s time to take a deep breath and prep for the year ahead.

Be Forensic

Ensuring a good 2017 comes down to planning. Poor planning often results in poor performance but January is the time for independent retailers to take a forensic look at all the aspects of Christmas 2016, evaluate what happened and why, and then plan ahead.

Review

Start with what sold. What were the bestsellers? Did you run out too soon? And look at what’s still in the store or in the warehouse.

Beyond product, there are many aspects of a retail business that can make or break the year. Zoom in on elements such as staffing and pick-and-pack productivity. Did you have the right staff, in the right numbers, at the right time? What working hours need to be extended or reduced?

Review promotional activity, customer communications and marketing. Which social media platforms worked? What could you amplify next year? How can you build up relationships with newly engaged customers?

Measure

Measure and understand how discounts and seasonal sales events impacted sales and margins. Black Friday is a relative newcomer to the British retail landscape and as such is still evolving. What that means long-term is unclear but for many customers it’s become a weekend event that kickstarts their Christmas shopping.

Plan

Once you’ve thoroughly reviewed what happened, indies need to plan just as thoroughly ahead. Where things went wrong, how can you ensure that doesn’t happen again? When it comes to successes, are there learnings from one part of the retail business that could be applied to another?

Prioritise

But it pays to be realistic. For indies it’s impossible to do everything, so the review and planning process inevitably means prioritising. Look at what can be achieved with the resources at hand, what are the improvements you can make that will really move the dial for you next time?

Go Buying

January is also the time to start buying for Christmas 2017. Consider not only which product sold well but also what shoppers requested or searched for online that you didn’t have.

For first-time retailers in particular it’s hard to judge what will be a bestseller but a proper and honest performance review will help build up confidence and encourage boldness when buying.

January Counts Too

For store-based retailers, don’t forget the significance of January too. In some locations the January sale can have a big impact on clearing stock and is a chance to attract customers who’ve been away over the Christmas period itself.

Ensure shelves are not empty and windows are fresh. Plan some events for January and update with new stock. It’s a month for introducing new ideas and sowing the seed for the months and year ahead.

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