As businesses finalize their plans for 2018, nearly every one has “growth” at the forefront of their minds. 

Of course, “growth” can mean many different things to different businesses. Some chains are looking to open dozens of new locations, some SMBs want to increase revenue 5-10% at their only shop. But no business owner ever plans to plateau.

Maybe your biggest plans for 2018 are already finalized, but we want to suggest 5 simple things you can do that could make a big difference next year.

1. Create an e-commerce presence.
In the past, your online presence only needed to be a barebones website with a bit of text, a few pictures, and some contact information. But these days, you need to sell online, too.

The data shows that the customer demand is there—70% of shoppers want a retailer to have both in-store and online shopping available, but only 44% of retailers offer both. 40% of shoppers say they’re more likely to shop at small businesses that offers options like e-commerce or buy online/pick up in-store.

Only a few years ago it was a big task to start taking transactions on your site, but these days it’s a far simpler process. Many companies now offer turnkey solutions that allow you to easily and securely accept online payments.

2. Get on Apple Maps
The days of the phonebook are over. You need to be using modern ways to get the word out about your business. And Apple Maps Connect is one of the simplest, most effective methods.

There are more than 5 billion searches each week for business locations on Apple Maps. By using Apple Maps Connect to get listed on Maps, you’re taking advantage of the easiest way to drive customers to your front door.

Verification happens in real time, and businesses generally appear on the map within a week. And it means you’re included on all Apple search platforms: Maps, Sirir, Nearby, Spotlight and Safari. So the next time one of your customers asks “Hey Siri, what’s the best clothing boutique in the area,” or “Hey Siri, what’s the best sub shop around here,” you’ll be at the top of the list. You can get started now.

3. Personalize the customer experience.
The stats show that customer interaction is the most crucial part of a sale. 40% of shoppers say that a savvy store associate can impact final product purchases more than a website. 43% of shoppers who interact with a store associate are more likely to purchase a product.

This is what sets businesses apart from mammoth online outlets like Amazon: the personal touch and knowledge that you and your employees have. So be prepared to walk the aisles with your customers, getting to know them and making recommendations specific to them. If you go the extra mile when you’re helping customers out, they’ll leave happier, and they’ll be far likelier to return.

4. Upgrade your loyalty program—or start one.
The punch card loyalty programs of the old days were a fine solution a decade ago. But if you’re not offering modern loyalty programs, you’re losing ground to your competitors that do.

The benefits of loyalty programs are clear. 83% of consumers are more likely to shop at a retailer if they belong to their loyalty program. In total, 84% of consumers take part in at least one loyalty program.

But there are still new consumers you can reach. Of those who ignore loyalty programs, 74% say it’s because loyalty doesn’t provide enough value.

In the age of smartphones, innovative new loyalty solutions add that extra value—it’s easy to set up, simple to use, and allows you to offer targeted rewards. You can use loyalty programs to give your customers better offers specific to their interests, sending them to their phones complete with push alerts. Sign up has been simplified by smartphone technology, too, making it as simple as tapping a phone to a terminal.

5. Leverage social media.
Small businesses too often ignore social media, thinking that these platforms are not built for businesses of their size—after all, if you compare your number of followers to massive national chains, you’ll never reach those heights. But this discounts the wide variety of purposes social media can serve.

By last year, 48% of Americans had interacted with companies or institutions on social media, and 41% said it’s important the institutions they engage with have a strong social media presence. Customers today go online to offer their opinion on every business they interact with—and sometimes that means voicing their displeasure.

If you’re not on social media, you can’t resolve these conflicts—instead, you look unresponsive and indifferent. But by being proactive, you turn these problems into victories. When you respond quickly and make the resolution public, it shows customers that you’re concerned with them and you want to ensure they have the best experience possible.

 

These 5 tips don’t require an overhaul of your business. But all of them offer great benefits to your store if you buy in and follow through. Even if you only pick one or two to concentrate on, you’ll surely see big returns over the next 12 months. Good luck in 2018!

​​5 Small Tips To Make a Big Difference in 2018

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