Retail Distribution Made Easy

Your first goal should always be deciding exactly who your target market is. Once you have this in mind, you are sure to notice that other aspects of your business just seem to fall into place. The same should be true of your retail distribution system. If you are planning to offer your products to the retail public in addition to or even instead of the wholesale market then you need to ensure that your system is in place and ready to go before you even open the doors.

While wholesale customers tend to be a bit more patient those who are purchasing in a retail type environment tend to want their purchases immediately. This means you need a strong retail distribution system in place to track all orders, shipping needs and even backorders to keep your customers informed and your business flowing.

Simply deciding that once a week you will package and ship products will likely leave you with a mountain of unhappy customers, an upset shipping company that is suddenly bombarded with packages and you running around frantically trying to locate a product that was ordered. This is never a good idea and will result in either your business failing, or coming close to failing, there is a much better way to handle things which can improve your business and of course sales.

You should first take some time to decide exactly what days you are going to ship on. Then take the time to let your shipping company know so you can schedule pick-ups on those days. This saves you the hassle of having to load up packages and take then to your shipping company. Let them come to you and save a ton of time. Additionally, you need to look at all of your products and decide what you need in order to package and ship everything.

Retail distribution tends to encourage you to use nicer looking packaging since you are trying to make a good impression on your customer. However, never spend too much on supplies since you need to control costs while still providing a nice “wow” touch. As you move along for the shipping supplies, you are going to need tape, labels, boxes, and even packaging materials to protect your products from damage while in transit. Additionally, invoices and packing slips may also be helpful to include so having all of this on hand before you start shipping is helpful. Read more about distribution management at http://www.managementdistribution.com

You need to also work out a specific area where you pack orders. This will allow you to create a flow to your packing that will enable it to go much faster and ensure that all customers receive a properly packed box, rather than their items just randomly tossed into a box. Remember, in retail distribution presentation is a lot of your image and you need to project a good image to customers in order to gather repeat business. From your packing area, you should also be able to devote some space for completed orders that are just waiting on the shipping company to pick them up. The entire process smoothes over your time simplifies your life and improves your business all in a few easy steps.

How Does BPM Feature in the Retail World?

The retail landscape has seen significant changes since the inception of the internet. While retailing in the past essentially meant simply distributing the product in question, that is no longer the case. In order to succeed in today’s fast paced retail world, a business needs to focus on retaining customers just as much as attracting new ones. Aspects that need to be addressed in such scenarios include enabling better communication between the business and its customer base, improving the supply chain, as well as seeing how IT solutions can help simplify the overall workflow.

Various retailers have already delved into the BPM sphere. Amongst the various things that one can expect a good Business Process Management solution to provide include, lowered operational costs and reduced cyclic times. Besides, one can also expect a significant ROI in an investment such as this simply because the operations and the solution would work in tandem, and both would be equally responsible for the outcome of the implementation.

How Can BPM Help?

Retailers now accept that their field is becoming more and more complex, and this is mainly because of the surge in service channels coupled with problems in tracking sales. Moreover, brand loyalty isn’t what it used to be, anymore; and in order for customers to come back, one has to ensure not just the high quality of the product, but high service levels as well. With an effective BPM solution in place, you can provide your customers with various platforms to interact with you (these would include in-store communication, over the phone, emails, chat, etc). Of course, you don’t necessarily need a BPM solution in place to offer your customers these options but a BPM solution would ensure that the interactions that take place through the varied mediums are fused seamlessly, thereby giving the business in question better flexibility, better productivity, better processes, and thereby, better customer satisfaction.

BPM solutions for the retail industry also take into account that having a smooth and reliable supply chain can affect the way the business functions to a large extent. A good BPM solution, when it comes to addressing the supply chain, would be able to send out automatic notifications across the business’ various stores, departments, etc; and the same can also be done when it comes to routing work across different sections/levels. The automation would help minimize errors and would also hasten the entire process.

Also, since the workforce is quite an important aspect in this sector, businesses can also use BPM solutions to track the performances of their employees and the processes through an assortment of tools designed specifically for this purpose. This would allow a business to review, strategize, improve and execute their future plans in accordance.

On the whole, with an effective BPM solution in place retailers can expect to respond to change more quickly, give their customers a better experience, get real time control over the business’ processes, effectively manage the supply chain, as well as look forward to enhanced retail distribution, product portfolio, and campaign management.

Choosing The Right Retail Premises for Your Business, Part II

Parameters for Attracting Customers

In Part I we focused on how to find desirable communities in which to locate your business. In Part II, we’ll be looking at specifics as to how they relate to your actual storefront. Along with these considerations, you will want to develop a strong business plan in order to give your company the best chance for survival. A description of your desired storefront will be in that plan.

Location:

In determining the ultimate location for your retail business, take into consideration:

  • The amount of daily foot traffic.
  • Parking and local transportation.
  • Other retail establishments– those carrying similar products, ancillary items and distinctly different goods are all desirable.
  • Average income of potential customers as it relates to your product.

Note: you’ll want a storefront that has a solid amount of foot traffic. Parking difficulties or an inability to get to the store using public transportation will dissuade business. If you’re opening a clothing store and there’s another such store in the vicinity, that can actually help business. People tend to want to go to areas where they have two or three choices in relationship to the same general product. Competition, as long as you clearly define the differences between your offerings and there’s, is good.

Building:

The building should be attractive and welcoming to the general public. People will judge your goods before they ever get into your establishment by your storefront– a well-maintained, clean façade with a consistency of style in look is important. Here are some essentials:

  • Size and potential attractiveness of the space.
  • Signage.
  • Visibility and accessibility.
  • Age and durability of the premises.
  • Building code concerns.

Future Growth:

Most retailers have visions of their business expanding in terms of clientele and sales. Don’t forget that a growth in business usually means a need for more retail and storage space. It may also translate into renovating the space for new services. If you’re thinking that somewhere down the road along with selling upscale clothing, you’d like to add custom jewelry, it makes sense to find a space that you can easily convert when you’re ready to expand.

  • How long is the lease?
  • Are you interested in purchasing the space at this time or at a future date?
  • Will utilities need to be upgraded if you decide to add a new service?
  • Are there any structural problems or concerns relating to renovation or expansion?

Running Costs:

Basic monthly running expenses need to be calculated along with the amount of sales you’ll need to meet those costs. You must be realistic about all expenditures and income. Account for:

  • All utilities.
  • Employee costs.
  • Expenses related to any equipment rentals.
  • Costs for inventory.
  • Lease and mortgage payments.
  • Insurance costs.
  • Shipping, invoice, duty expenditures and other fees or payments.

Potential income should be based on a realistic analysis of foot traffic, potential sales and earning potential of your average customer. It takes time for any business to catch on and even more time for it to turn a profit. Be reasonable in your estimates.

Renovation Costs:

Will there be any expenditures for renovating the premises, buying display equipment or creating the décor for your store? You will probably extend these costs via a business loan, which means the loan payment will be added to your monthly expenses.

Planning Consent:

You’ll need to acquire the proper permits and licenses as they relate to your enterprise. These should be included in your start-up costs.

Two-fold Process

First and foremost, when it comes to finding the right premises for your retail business, you’ll want to consider both the support you’ll receive from the city or region and then the specific aspects of the potential store as they relate to your company. Careful planning, which includes a well-delineated business plan, is essential to your success. To understand what goes into a viable business outline read our article entitled, Developing a Solid Business Plan–Details You Won’t Want to Forget.

Remember that thinking ahead, detailed research and putting your ideas in written form will allow you to determine your needs, find funding and understand how you’ll foster your new enterprise.