What can retailers do differently this year to exceed sales forecasts?
January 14, 2014
Retail performance during the most recent holiday shopping season revealed many small and medium-sized companies could benefit from taking advantage of integrated payment systems.
As usual, December was a lucrative month for most businesses, overall. However, recent data from the National Retail Federation cited by Reuters found total sales were slightly less than what was originally anticipated in the U.S. Holiday-related revenue jumped 3.8 percent in 2013, compared to 3.5 percent during the previous year. The NRF had initially projected growth of 3.9 percent.
While that number isn't too far off the mark, retailers could be doing much more to ensure sales exceed expectations in the future.
SMBs must embrace the multichannel experience in 2014
Most store owners know by now that consumer behaviors are nothing like they were in previous years. Specifically, shoppers are now utilizing a wide variety of media to not only browse for items, but to make purchases as well. In other words, retailers can maximize sales by introducing new revenue streams into their operations. A recent report from Experian Marketing Services found tools such as email marketing have already been highly effective in leading to more online transactions. The company said the 2013 holiday season was a record year in terms of the volume of emails sent out to target customers. These trends resulted in a 9 percent increase in the total number of transactions made through links embedded in such messages.
"Traditionally, as email volume increases, performance decreases, but in the 2013 holiday season we saw the opposite," Peter DeNunzio, general manager of cross-channel marketing at Experian Marketing Services, stated in a press release. "An increase in total transactions and revenue tells us that leading marketers have found their stride, sending more relevant emails to each customer based on his or her unique needs."
Advanced technology will help small and midsize retailers prepare for stronger sales numbers in the coming months. For example, tools that allow stores to accept credit card payments online will increase the effectiveness of digital marketing campaigns. Back office interfaces that offer payment integration will also enable managers to seamlessly organize financial information collected from both brick-and-mortar and digital transactions.
Most retailers throughout the U.S. are on the cusp of major growth. Investments in simple tools that boost operational efficiency will provide a valuable extra push in the right direction.