Retail is defined in a number of dictionaries as:
The sale of goods to the public in relatively small quantities for use or consumption…
It is a very particular kind of sales challenge with very specific demands. Even so, the definition is in flux. Retail is no longer just a matter of brick and mortar buildings that house goods people can browse in 3-dimensional environments and purchase in real time. It now includes the selling of goods to end users in a virtual space online. While services may be purchasable in real time, goods can take a few days, or even weeks depending on a number of factors.
One might debate what should and should not get the retail moniker. If online stores are considered retail, so should the catalog sales back in the day. IRL is shorthand for in real life. We use it to distinguish things that are done online, such as IRL dating vs. online. But at some point, the distinctions become meaningless. Dating is dating. And retail is retail. If you’re going to do retail, here are some of the preparations you will need to make:
Take as many forms of payment as possible
There is nothing more annoying than attempting to purchase something, only to be told that the form of payment being used is not accepted. For a long time, that annoyance was centered around plastic. The only form of payment for many places of business is still cash and check, mostly cash.
The next frontier is mobile payments. More and more, people are pulling out their smartphones expecting to be able to make a payment. When you say NO, your potential customer is confused about why you don’t accept money. It is among all things possible that crypto currency will be the next battlefield. For now, it will be a major victory just getting businesses to accept all major credit cards.
Checkout.com is one of the available solutions that can help you do just that. You can also convert non-card customers using alternative payment options most relevant to certain geographical regions such as Europe and Asia Pacific. Whether your business is online or IRL, you need to be prepared to take as many forms of payment as possible from day one.
Prepare for high-volume, seasonal sales
Black Friday is just one of the high-volume, seasonal events for which you need to be prepared. Retail is extremely seasonal. It is said that the retail business is almost entirely supported by the sales from a few weeks out of the year. If you are unprepared for those high-volume days, you will be out of business.
Behind holidays, you have to know which items are hot, and when they are at their peak. Do you sell items that would appeal to a tech geek audience? May the 4th is like a holiday. Stock up. Not only does your inventory need to be prepared, but your retail space, even if that space is online. Make sure that people know that something special is afoot when they drop by.
It is common to hear people talking about putting on a marketing blitz. But the war analogy is inappropriate, outdated, and not at all what is needed. A better analogy is that marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes a while to get exactly the marketing you want. Once you do, you have to be prepared to do that marketing over a sustained period of time.
Taking your marketing efforts online does not constitute a shortcut. Even social media marketing takes time. People need to have a chance to absorb the fact that you even exist and have something to sell. Beyond that, they need to have that realization when they are nearing a purchasing decision so that they can decide if it makes sense to consider your product over one that is better established.
For retail success, you have to let the marketing process have time to work itself out. Prepare for high-volume sales events. And be ready to accept just about any form of legal tender a person has to offer.