January is a great month to reassess your business, to look back on what went well last year and research how you can do things better.
Here are five key things for you to consider at the start of the new year.
1. How fast can customers get your product or service?
Amazon announced that three million people joined Prime, their unlimited one-day delivery service, in the third week of December 2015 alone, showing a need for speed from customers. You want your product or service to be as accessible as possible to potential customers, even those in a rush; what is your delivery time and what is your return policy? For example, is there an opportunity to offer gift vouchers for customers not sure what to buy and can the return policy be extended during the holidays whilst everything slows down? Remember, flexibility is key.
2. What channels do you use to sell?
Whilst we may try and be prepared in our Christmas shopping, many of us still hit the internet for convenience. It’s important to look at the different sales channels you can reach customers through, such as being stocked in a shop but also available to buy online. The Financial Times reported that online sales jumped 15.1% in December 2015, compared to the same time the previous year. The data, from the British Retail Consortium, shows consumers are increasingly turning to the internet for speed and convenience so make sure your business is online and easy to find. Customers want an easy user experience from start to finish. Our blog from website designers, Create, explains how you can make the most out of your website.
3. Gather valuable research and feedback
Use your network of contacts (family, friends, colleagues, social media followers) and get their valuable feedback on what you are selling. Look at the marketing, operations and financials of your business; how did people find out about your business? Do some research into what the latest Christmas trends were and plan to look out for next years.
4. Make the most of the January blues
With credit card bills coming in from Christmas, you may find that customers aren’t as ‘spend happy’ as they were a few months ago. One way of trying to increase your sales is to offer a discount. However, if you’re going to do this make sure you use your Cash Flow Forecast to work out how low in price you can realistically go. If you haven’t completed a Cash Flow Forecast, we have a free, easy to use template.
5. Reassess your business and reflect
It’s important to take time to assess where you are now and where you want to be; your Business Plan should aim to answer this question. If 2016 is the year you want to enter a new market, expand your customer base or offer a new product, the beginning of the year is a great time to revise and update the document.
Start Up Loan recipient Jess Ratty, founder of The Cornwall Camper Company, offers seven top tips on how to get your name out there.
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