Many small businesses, old and new, find themselves wondering how to stay up-to-date in a market that is constantly evolving. It can be difficult and overwhelming to keep up with various trends in business. Being a small business owner comes with many responsibilities in order to maintain the success of your business. From appearance to credit card processing, upgrading your business can serve you well in the long run.
The best part is that updating and upgrading your business does not have to cost a lot. Elie Y. Katz, president and CEO of National Retail Solutions (NRS), shared advice to help retailers create a business experience both operators and their customers can benefit from.
“The first upgrade I would recommend is a trusted point-of-sale (POS) system. Many small business owners are hesitant to give up their old cash registers. However, a POS system can cause an overall improvement in a business,” Katz said. “A POS system is the heart of a business. It makes transactions easier with customers, which means they will be happier. A POS system can also save the merchant a lot of time. It helps keep a business organized, especially with user monitoring, sales data and inventory alerts. It’s important to do your research before making the switch to a new POS system.”
This is especially important in regards to credit card processing, as many POS companies require that the merchant use their integrated credit card processing plan. “These companies have varying fees, and can have hidden fees which can really bring down a merchant. If you already have credit card processing, make sure to evaluate if it is the best plan for you. Evaluate if a cash discount or a credit card processing surcharge program is appropriate for your business,” Katz said. “If you have any doubts or concerns, don’t be afraid to switch processing plans. The money you’ll save is worth it, even if you have to pay an exit penalty to your current company, to switch away.”
The next point Katz touched on is the appearance of a business. The look and essence of a store can either attract or repel customers. The goal of a merchant should be to make the customer feel as welcome as possible. They should feel comfortable when shopping.
“First, make sure your air conditioning and heating system are up and running. If a store is too cold or hot, a customer will want to spend as little time as possible there. Second, consider renovating old appliances and the design of your store. For example, adding shelving, replacing the fridges, and fixing old flooring with new tiles or linoleum can really improve the atmosphere of a business,” Katz said. “Also, clean your windows and exterior appearance. Don’t focus only on the inside, as the outside is the first thing the customer sees. Think about hiring a company that can get up high and power wash the outside. Make sure your windows are sparkling. Finally, an updated and sanitary bathroom with touchless sinks and soap dispensers is highly appreciated by customers. Try to budget for these important projects that enhance your customers’ experiences. If you are interested in renovating and upgrading but don’t have liquid capital, consider a cash advance.”
The final piece of advice Katz offered is in regards to merchandise. Rent is expensive and every square foot of space in your store should be used wisely. “Freshen up your shelves, get rid of old, outdated merchandise, and add new items,” he said. “Switching up your merchandise can keep your customers loyal and attract new ones. If you have a grocery, c-store or gas station, offering EBT can lift your revenue, but make sure to carefully research the most efficient EBT acceptance plan. EBT transactions can cost a merchant money with each transaction, so if you process a high volume of EBT, you may want to seek out an Unlimited EBT program.”
If you are eager for a bigger change, try rebranding; designing a new logo, or creating a new website. Leverage design and technology to attract new attention to your business, while also keeping existing customers intrigued.
“Upgrading your business is not only good for customers, it is beneficial for you as a merchant, as well. Customers are able to enjoy their shopping experience, which leads to better outcomes for the business owner. Customers are more likely to return and recommend your store to others,” Katz said. “Renovating and upgrading your business is worth the financial outlay, and will invariably lead to more customers, more revenue and expanded opportunities. Customers do not want to shop in a worn down, outdated store. They appreciate a pleasurable shopping experience. Ambiance includes cleanliness, music or relevant audio, climate control, freshness and a seamless, smooth checkout experience. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and explore some of the options mentioned throughout this article. It could really lead your business to greater success in both the short term and long run.”