The just ended Christmas was indeed a peak season for sales for retailers. Retailers from all and sundry made massive sales from selling their own wares and additional seasonal stocks, and have cashed in as much as possible from sales activities during the just ended holidays.
Back to the drawing board, we are grateful to the God for bringing us to a new year with renewed challenges, dreams and aspirations.

As we have launched into 2017, the seemingly “quiet” weeks in January and maybe a part of February should be critical for retailers, and must be used to assess their businesses for the past year with particular emphasis on areas that have the capacity to increase sales. Of course the motive for existence of every retailer is first to gain sales, to maintain and to maximize their sales and profit at all times.
Here are 5 areas of business that retailers can put into perspective, to reap increased sales in 2017.

People
It is said that “employees are the lifeblood of every business” and a retailer who overlooks employee contributions does so at the expense of their own profitability. After sailing through the busy Christmas season, the month of January and February should be used to assess employees’ performance over a period of say the last quarter of 2016. Areas such as punctuality, sales abilities, interpersonal and teamwork capabilities, commitment to work and loyalty, etc. should be considered. With this exercise, you can identify and probably reward deserving employees, identify those who lag behind and their needs for improvement and then get the incorrigibly bad nuts out.

Rewarding deserving employees is a motivational tool to get them to do better than before, it is also essential to get the bad nuts out so they don’t spread their lethargy to pollute the good employees. Secondly employee reviews would enable you to identify training needs that are essential for the growth of the business.

Marketing Strategies
What marketing strategies have you adopted in the past, especially during the peak Christmas period? And how potent were they in reaping in sales? What strategies did your competitors adopt that gave them an upper hand? Going forward what are the strategies you would want to adopt, improve or completely shed off?
These are some of the questions that reviewing your marketing strategies would help you to answer, and the essence is to identify the best marketing mix available for your store. Retailers would normally adopt either external or in store marketing strategies such as video/audio adverts, billboards, LED or other in-store signage, radio jingles, email marketing etc. Strategies should not be adopted in a vacuum, conducting such reviews would enable a retailer identify the most potent to ensure increased sales.

The Shop
How do customers perceive the inside and outside of your shop? What improvements should you make to give your shop a facelift and improve perception?
These are a few of the questions that a review of your outlet would seek to answer, and in so doing identify the internal or external areas in the shop that require improvement. Shop improvement could range from a complete overhaul of the entire premises, to fixing a new single stock shelve. Every little counts, and in conducting this exercise, particular attention should be paid to every unpleasant look or smell that is likely to turn customers, especially the new ones away.

Customers
Amongst others, customer reviews would seek to ascertain the following; the rate of customer retention, and the rate of growth of your customer base, the availability of data on your customers to know their spending habits, as well as the existence and rate of increase of your customer contact list?
In conducting customer reviews, it is important to first have a system that collects customer information. A supermarket can easily take contact information from loyal or even first time customers at the checkout. Additionally sales data from your POS systems can be used to analyse spending habits.

Products & merchandising
What products sold massively during the peak time? And where were they placed in the shop? Were there high expectations of some products which didn’t do so well? What could you have sold but lost the opportunity to sell?
Such analyses can be conducted by analyzing your sales data from POS systems and is essential for your buying and merchandising decisions
A thorough assessment of employees & customers, coupled with enhanced marketing strategies, shop, and products would put retailers in a better position for increased sales in 2017.

About the Author
Amma is a Lead Consultant and trainer with M-DoZ Retail Consultants. For further information or contribution, you can please contact her on 0201196080 or email amma.antwi@ghanatalksbusiness.com

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