In the midst of the busiest shopping season of the year, many retail entrepreneurs may feel like there’s little time to prep for the year ahead.
Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, a report from Stitch Labs shows that almost half of retailers say their holiday season ends in January. That means many stores will continue to be slammed through the coming weeks.
Between keeping shelves stocked, fulfilling orders, and keeping employee morale high while they work over the holidays, it’s an understatement to say that retailers are stretched thin this time of year. And while you still need to finish year-end inventory counts and review reconciliation reports, there are plenty of less cerebral ways to get ready for 2017.
So, here are a few low-key activities you can tick off your to-do list that your future self will thank you for doing.
1. Schedule Your Social Media Posts (~30-45 minutes)
If you aren’t already automating some of your social media posts, it’s high time you consider it. Using a tool like Buffer, IFTT, or HootSuite, you can compose, curate, and schedule your brand’s social media posts in advance.
Not only does this ensure your social feeds are consistently pushing out new content, but it’s one less marketing task you have to remember on a daily basis.
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2. Improve Your Site’s SEO (~1-2 hours each)
While this is a broad task that can encompass a variety of activities, let’s focus on some items you can complete within a couple of hours.
You can help improve your ecommerce site’s SEO by simply rewriting your product pages. Optimize your content for frequently-searched-for keywords and phrases, and ensure product descriptions explain how your product solves a problem for your target customer.
For more help, check out Shopify’s guide to writing better product pages.
You can also create or improve an already-existing FAQ page on your site. Not only do these pages cut down on repeated customer queries, but they also optimize site navigation as well as SEO. Read our article on the benefits of having an FAQ page before getting started.
3. Catch Up on Industry Reading (~20-30 minutes)
Between the demands of running your retail business, managing employees, and strategizing future plans, keeping up with industry news and trends can be a challenge.
So, this is a great time to catch up on all that retail chatter happening in your news feed, on blogs, and on social media.
Not sure where to start? Peruse our list of 24 must-read retail blogs to find some new favorites.
4. Tune into Retail Podcasts (30+ minutes)
If you prefer getting your retail buzz on the go, then take advantage of the wealth of industry-related podcasts. This highly digestible medium is ideal for busy business owners who can catch up with news, trends, gossip, or comical gaffes while on the move.
If you don’t want to waste precious minutes on a subpar episode, tune into one of the high-impact shows on our list of retail-related podcasts.
5. Browse Pinterest for Interior Design Inspiration (~15-20 minutes)
As many retailers are well aware, the interior of your brick-and-mortar store is just as important as the outside signage or your storefront’s “curbside appeal” when it comes to driving more sales. Business owners must pay attention to interior design, visual merchandising, and store layout to optimize foot traffic and create a physical flow that leads to more revenue.
If you’d love to give your store interior a refresh in 2017, browse Pinterest for ideas. The social platform offers curated results from all over the world, which means you’ll have no shortage of inspiration.
For additional ideas, read up on how you can create store interiors that drive customers to buy.
6. Check Out Some Retail Case Studies (~20-30 minutes)
Curious about how other retailer businesses are overcoming common entrepreneurial obstacles? Ready to scale up your store, but you aren’t sure how? Get some ideas and inspiration from reading about other retailers and how they’re creating success for themselves.
For in-depth profiles of select retailers detailing their methods for building their business, read the Shopify Retail blog case studies section. For additional snippets on a variety of ecommerce and physical storefronts, read through our lengthy list of Success Stories.
7. Create a Plan to Go Paperless (1-2 hours)
Business have relied on paper for hundreds of years, whether it’s in offices or in retail storefronts. But in the past decade, more and more businesses have reduced their paper trail — some choosing to eliminate paper altogether.
There are many reasons for a business to go paperless, and it’s not only about saving the environment. Today’s shoppers are Internet savvy. They spend most of their lives on computers, tablets, and smartphones (around 8 hours and 41 minutes daily, based on one study). They crave efficiency and opt to spend their dollars on experiences that are streamlined and customized. When it comes to point of sales, the use of credit and debit cards over cash and checks are at an all-time high. The last thing any customer wants is another paper receipt cluttering their wallet.
So, if you’re ready to reduce (or eliminate) the amount of paper you use in your biz, read our guide on all the ways going paper-free can benefit retailers.
8. Set up Google Places for Business For Your Store (~10 minutes)
U.S. consumers register 13.7 billion searches a month in Google — and 20% of those searches are related to location. That’s a lot of prospective customers that could be searching for some of the products you peddle.
That’s why it’s crucial that retailers ensure their stores are listed on Google Places for Business. Make sure your listing is live and up-to-date so that potential customers in your area can easily find your store.
Not sure how to verify your Google Places listing? Review our guide to help you get started.
9. Browse Google Trends for Product Ideas (~20 minutes)
Retailers should regularly assess their product offerings to ensure they align with customer needs. And one way to validate your ideas for new products is through Google Trends.
Business owners can use this free tool to evaluate demand and interest in particular products, retail trends (think subscription box services), and also get ideas for product offerings you haven’t considered.
To get started on your search, read our article on how to use Google Trends to help you run your business.
10. Flip Through a Retailer Read (Varies)
While skimming through blogs and tuning into podcasts are great ways to quickly catch up on industry buzz, sometimes it’s nice to cozy up with an old-fashioned book.
Although there are dozens of books published on the subject of retail, stretched-thin entrepreneurs rarely have the time to comb through a lengthy list of potential reads. That’s why we curated a roundup of high-impact retailer reads to ensure you can gather as many valuable insights as possible when you crack open a book.
Did we miss anything on this list? How will you be spending your time preparing for the year ahead? Share your thoughts in the comments below.