Since my sister and I opened our brick and mortar store, The Salvaged Boutique, we’ve seen many trends come and go. Nowadays, not only do businesses with physical spaces need to keep a pulse on what’s going on in their communities, what will bring people in the doors, and what merchandise is trending, but we also have to educate ourselves about technology and having a strong online presence. Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the top small business trends for this year.
Brick and mortar store owners know how to manage and merchandise inventory in their stores, but these days I see so many shopkeepers trying to figure out how to build e-commerce stores and how to manage them.
Adding an e-commerce store to your revenue stream is smart but you’ll have to learn how to market the store and how to ship items in order for the online shop to thrive.
#2: Loyalty programs
Most brick and mortar businesses have a core group of customers who visit and shop regularly. You know the old 80/20 adage: 80% of profits come from 20% of your customers. Why not reward them?
TIP: Most point-of-sale systems offer this type of program, it might be an add-on service, but it’s well worth it. We implemented a loyalty program and quickly found the 80/20 adage is true and our customers LOVE that we’re rewarding them – they deserve it. If you don’t want to pay for a loyalty program, make a paper card for your customers and either stamp or punch the card.
#3: Workshops & experiences
Believe it or not, people are craving interaction and genuinely want to spend less time on their phones. Inspire them to do this in your stores with events, experiences, and workshops.
TIP: Have you considered hosting a workshop in your space but you’re not sure where to begin? Click here to read my 10 tips for hosting workshops in your store. Or host a sale event and offer your customers a scratch-off ticket for a discount. It’s fun and offers your customers an element of surprise. Click here for an easy DIY project and learn how to make your own scratch-off tickets!
#4: Handmade and local
This has been trending for years but the trend continues, consumers genuinely want to:
- Buy things that aren’t mass produced
- Support and connect with others who make things by hand
- Buy items that are unique
- Make a difference
- Be more socially conscious
#5: Creating a BRAND
According to this Forbes article, “Companies are increasingly engaging consumers outside of traditional shopping parameters and becoming cultural figures.”
Brand identity is becoming more important than ever for retailers. It’s what separates you from the next retailer, it’s your story, it’s how you attract and keep consumers.
Branding includes your voice, your mission, a color scheme, visual consistency, logos, taglines, etc. but retailers are taking it one step further and making their brands a lifestyle.
If this one stumps you, here’s a great example: Darling Boutique in Charlottesville, Virginia. Darling Boutique is a clothing consignment shop for women. But the owner, Linnea, goes above and beyond simply reselling clothing in a store. With her Darling brand, she seeks to empower and inspire women.
Not only is her business brand cohesive in style, but Linnea’s messaging and mission resonates with her customers. So much so, that they now buy t-shirts and other “Darling” merchandise designed specifically for its consumers.
“We are passionate about empowering women and inspiring strength through fashion to restore dignity and true beauty. Walk alongside us as we discover the beauty of life. Because it’s just darling.” – Darling Boutique
#6: Data/Artificial Intelligence
There is data EVERYWHERE these days. Technology provides retailers with the ability to track out of stock alerts, identify trends in their inventory, view loyalty customer reports, know average spend and number of visits. Dive a little deeper and you can even find valuable and specific information about your customer demographic.
- Buying & planning
- Demand forecasting
- Customer intelligence
- Marketing & Social Media
- Store operations
- Pricing and promotion
Analyzing your data provides valuable insights into your customers and how you can best serve them.
In order to stay relevant and in the eyes and ears of your customers, it’s important to stay on top of small business trends. Not all trends may apply to your business but knowledge is power. We all know retail has its highs and lows, off-seasons and hot seasons, but as an entrepreneur, the trend we always want to see the most is the upward and onward trend.
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Since founding The Salvaged Boutique with her sister in 2013, Kathy watched her passion grow from a fun blog and hobby with her sister on the side of her full-time job, to a thriving brick and mortar home decor store. After running the store for years, she saw the need for an online community where small business owners could find resources. So she took it upon herself to create Savvy Shopkeeper, a blog and online business dedicated to educating, motivating and building a community of shop owners. From a full-time job to full-time entrepreneur, Kathy helps hundreds of store owners and makers navigate store ownership while running a store herself.