Looking to improve in 2021? As you look for new ways to better your store and increase your success, check out this Q&A with Alison Anderson, owner of A. Dodson’s in Suffolk and Norfolk, Va. Here, you’ll find advice on how to work efficiently, cut down on shipping costs and more.
TIME IS EVERYTHING
Q: What are some time-saving tricks you can share to help retailers be more efficient in 2021?
A: Take the time to make sure you’re on a fully integrated POS system. One that has the ability to connect directly to your website will save you days, not just hours. Gone are the days of having to buy a bridge or a connector from your POS to your website.
Retailers go through countless SKUs each year, season and even month. As a retailer, you need to be able to do data entry once and enter your products in one place. From there your data should auto populate to your website, social, email and beyond. At the same time, you need to be able to track those products in your analytics. A fully integrated POS system will do all this and more.
TIPS FOR SHIPPING
Q: What is your best advice to retailers who are new to shipping products to customers?
A: Do your best to negotiate your rates with UPS, FedEx, etc., and do it often. Remember that as soon as you have an uptick in your volume with UPS or FedEx, negotiate again and then negotiate again.
Don’t forget to look at your overall packaging cost. All too often we overlook what it cost to man the shipping and handling operations (payroll) and buy the materials involved. Are you sourcing the best prices in boxes, tape, bubble wrap, mailers, etc.? Try to ship all of your small items first class, surepost or priority mail for cost savings.
Use shipping software such as ShipStation or Shipping Pirate in order to ensure you get the best rates from UPS and USPS, as well. If you have moved to a fully integrated POS system, both of these shipping platforms will work with your POS/online sale with only a few clicks of a button.
Q: Any advice for those new to selling digitally?
A: Take the time to look at your website as another retail store and plan your numbers accordingly. Your website deserves the same planning and marketing time that your brick and mortar gets. At times I would even say more because it is a reflection of your brick and mortar.
WHILE AT MARKET
Q: What should retailers be looking for at the winter markets or while online ordering?
A: Market 2021 is going to look like no other we have seen before. Personally, I’m going to batten down the hatches. I’m going to review and look at my vendors who supported me the most during 2020 and who I think can ship on time in 2021. I’m going to increase my volume with the vendors that I know I can rely on. I don’t see myself taking many chances in 2021 on a ton of new lines.
When going to market in 2021, try to look for companies that are going to be partners you can build your business with in the years to come, for example, companies that are offering free shipping or discounts at a volume level. Try to keep in mind it is a lot more time consuming and pricey for you as a retailer to process 10-20 different $500 orders from multiple different wholesalers versus taking free shipping or a volume discount from a few. Diversification does not always equal success at the cash register.
Alison Anderson is the owner of A. Dodson’s, an apparel, home and gifts store with two locations in Suffolk and Norfolk, Va. She regularly participates in retail panels and gives presentations about digital retail, POS solutions and more at market. Visit her store at adodsons.com.