March 13, 2019 @ 12:37 AM

by Michael Satterfield
Keeping brick and mortar stores in the black is becoming harder each day, as more consumers shop online or shop at big-box retailers. But remember your store has an advantage over the internet retailers and corporate megachains, your store has you. The passion you (and your team) have for the products you sell and the unique experience that they can only get at your store is what will make or break any independent retailer.
Many small retailers focus their training on the functional side of the business, teaching most employees the basics, how to process an order and restock the racks. Expanding into sales and product training not only makes your store more professional but can increase sales by as much as 10%, according to a study by Market Source. Many times brands have free product training available either online or in store.
Performance Reviews:
If you are going to be investing in training you should be measuring how well your employees are doing. This can be a time to correct small issues before they grow out of control as well as a positive time to celebrate individual team members for their success. Set goals, both a reasonable one, and a stretch goal, and make sure to set a goal for yourself. Accountability is a good thing and regularly having reviews will help keep everyone, including the owner on track.
Merchandising and Branding:
Sometimes boutiques and smaller retailers can get overwhelmed by years of collecting, or just over decorating, make sure your store is welcoming, clean, and easy to navigate. Sometimes less is more and allowing people to see less product well merchandised as opposed to overcrowding a space and result in more sales. If you are in doubt do some secret shopping of retailers that inspire you and take some time to audit your own space. 
Loyalty Programs:
From punch cards to private events developing a loyalty program customers are looking for an experience when they shop.  A 2018 IRI Consumer Connect survey showed that 74% of consumers choose a store based on a strong loyalty or discount program. Hawk Incentives Research found that 79% of consumers look for deals in loyalty and reward programs before making a purchase. If you aren't offering a special program for your most loyal customers, you are leaving sales on the table.