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Five things retail businesses need to know

New Zealand’s 27,000 retail businesses turn over about $100 billion a year, and employ around 220,000 people, according to Retail NZ.

Here are five pieces of advice for retailers from Retail NZ Chief Executive Greg Harford.

Look at your costs

While retail sales are pretty buoyant at the moment, the costs of operating a retail business are also going up significantly, particularly the costs of sourcing product, freight, and employing people.

It’s a good idea to be reviewing your operations, and looking pretty closely at whether you can make efficiencies to help manage those costs and improve your margins. It’s useful to look at this before consumer spending tightens up.

We all hope it won’t happen, but there’s an ongoing risk that an outbreak of Covid-19 could force us back into lockdown. Retail NZ recommends that businesses remain prepared for this eventuality, and have contingency plans in place to operate if they are allowed to do so.

This might mean you need to be planning changes to how you operate – for example, introducing click and collect arrangements; and know what you’ll need to do to pay and support your team if they are not going to be able to work.

Look after customers and staff

Keep in touch with your customers and know what they are thinking. The retail world is moving fast, and customers are increasingly wanting to shop and pay differently. We’ve seen massive growth in online shopping over the past 15 months, and that shows no sign of stopping; many customers want to use Paywave, buy now pay later schemes, or other new technologies to pay; and customers are seeking new trends and new experiences.

Every great retail business is supported by great employees, so look after your team. Make sure you are meeting all the legal requirements about employing staff, and in a world where we are seeing increased anti-social behaviour, do what you can to help your people manage stress and other mental wellbeing issues. There are some great free resources to help available from Retail NZ.

Share experiences

It can be lonely running a retail business, so it’s a good idea to tap into others and share experiences. It’s a good idea to talk to nearby business owners and join an industry association to share knowledge and best practice.

Plan early

It’s already time to start planning for the busy Black Friday and Christmas seasons. Make sure your stock is ordered and that you know when it will be delivered, and start thinking about your staffing arrangements. Supply chains continue to be stretched as a result of Covid-19, and the market for retail workers is extremely tight, so early planning will be the key to success.

This article was originally published on stuff.

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