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These sorts of emails are, regrettably, common now. COVID has made business peoples lives difficult. In spite of the best efforts of delivery people, everyone currently is encountering delays and lost parcels.  

Fortunately, most people now understand the obstacles. 2021 is a challenging year for everyone. We are all trying to do our best to make it easier.

In my experience, the sooner you notify your customer, the easier it is to deal with the problem. Let them know by a call or email there is a problem. Give your customer the carriers new delivery date if possible, the carrier's reference number and contact details. That may get you out of the loop. 

What you need to do is let your customer know that you are here to support them.

If you do a lot of shipping with one carrier, we have several carriers integrated to automate this process. Unfortunately, many of these are not free services from the carrier but subscription services. So there is a cost for this service.

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About two weeks ago, I noticed that sales related to children are increasing in the United States. After receiving comments, I decided that if people like my tip, why not provide another category that experts expect to perform well?

In the past year, outdoor-related products have flourished. People that sell products related to any outdoor activities, bicycles, outdoor sports goods, etc., when open are doing well. Not surprising as one of the few activities many during lockdown can do is go outside for exercise. So consumers are looking for activities to help them stay occupied so they are paying more attention to the outdoor lifestyle away from indoor social activities.

Interest in these activities will continue as these lockdowns have been going on for more than a year, so it has become a habit for many. Plus, COVID will still be with us for a long time,

I suggest you investigate such items. See what products you can sell here. The list is endless, eg outdoor games for kids, outdoor furniture, backpacks, thermos mugs, bicycle accessories, etc.

Consider building an outdoor department as it looks like a robust category.

 

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Here is the finding from the latest edition of the UK ACS Local shop report.

This was taken after more than a year of COVID. Like here the UK public had to go to their local shop. If these figures are true in Australia, then 40% of your customers know your staff, and 76% interact with the people in your shop.

Select your staff wisely.

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As a parent, I know that kids are good at getting us to buy things.

Figures from the US retail sales show child-related sales at a 12% increase on 2020. For example, total back-to-school spending in the United States will reach a record $37.1 billion this year, compared to $33.9 billion in 2020.

There is no reason to believe that this trend will not happen in Australia too. So it can be expected that toys and back to school items are set to become a strong category.

So it would help if you got ready.

Use your top selling report to see what you are selling well in these categories then check here a list of toys selling well in the US that you may want to look through.

 

 

 

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Currently, Facebook is pushing its Facebook WiFi service to businesses. 

It is a free WiFi service that you can offer people in your area. The promise here is that you can provide a public secure WiFi network with a small amount of time and cost. 

In exchange, they will increase your exposure on Facebook. so giving you much free advertising. What Facebook asks the WiFi user is for a Like or Check-in for your business page. As the average person has many people on their Facebook page, that is a great way to increase your exposure *FREE*. Plus you will get many new reports, e.g. demographic information about the people in your area. You would then know what Facebook thinks are the people who are similar to your customers. This would reduce the cost of reaching potential people, some of who will become your customers using Facebook ads. 

 

Is your shop near a suitable area? 

Say you had a nearby place where people sit and use their mobiles and laptop. Examples might be a bus stop, tables where people sit, eat and drink, e.g. pubs, etc. 

If the answer is no, then you can stop reading now. 


Internet issues.

Some of you will need to upgrade both your internet plan. How much would you need? I am not sure. You may need to talk to your ISP.

Also, it does not work on all routers. You would need to check this out in advance. You may need a new router.


Is it easy to set up?

Clients who have done it say that it is not easy. One computer literate user told me that "I found an access point that had Facebook WiFi.. was a lot of stuffing around to set it up. Then creating a Facebook app then linking the AP to it was not easy." 

I suspect that if everything is correct, we are looking at a small amount of time. Otherwise its a not quick, especially if it is your first attempt. 

Summing up

If you have a business that ticks the above boxes, *YES*. 

Although it is probably not as simple as advertised, Facebook WiFi does much of the heavy lifting when setting up a customer WiFi portal. Most of the settings required for getting a customer WiFi portal running is done for you. Much of the legal responsibility is passed on to Facebook. Also, it can link into your Point of Sale Software.

So it's worth investigating to see if it will work for your business.

If you want to know more, then click here.

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What are customer satisfaction surveys?

Customer satisfaction surveys are surveys sent out to your customers. These help you to understand what your customers think about their experience with you. Many large organisations use them today. 

 

Why is customer satisfaction important?

If customers are not satisfied, then they are looking elsewhere. They can be buying from you, but they are looking. Soon they will find someone. 

Why collect customer feedback?

Easy to do once you have many of their email addresses. Which is not hard to get, make a loyalty program with the condition that no discount is payable unless the person signs up to the loyalty program. If they are accepting the offer, why should they not receive the opportunity to get more offers? 

Now you do not need many. Mathematically a 100 people answering gives you a 10% error, which is more than good enough for this business purpose. 

Many services are free to send it out. The one we use is Mailchimp. As it is free, why not use it. If it does not work out, you can always try something better or drop the idea. At least you will know better at the end what you need.

Are we practising what I am preaching?

*YES* 

 

Over the past few weeks, many of you have noticed that we are sending these out. The reading of these surveys has shown us much interesting information. 

 

I ask you to keep filling them out. I can assure you that every one of them will be read and thought about.

I also ask you to consider using them too.

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Hopefully, you have finalised enough of the stocktake, gone through the stock. Now it's time to unload the stuff that did not sell.

The best way of doing it is a stocktake sale. Take the items, put them around a stand, put a sign on top and see how you go.

Others are doing it, why not you?

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I attended an online lecture for retailers on what stock items a shop should select for sale. Some of the points I thought were pretty good, so I took down some notes. Here are a few

- Seasonal items are trouble. If you handle them, what you are buying is products for a short time. For similar reasons, avoid fad items. The fad goes, and you are stuck with the goods.

It is better to take products that give you a whole year of sales. 

- Delivery is one of the most significant problems in retail in Australia. Our delivery system is expensive and not particularly good. 

Avoid large and heavy items as they have high transport costs that will eat into your margin. 

Fragile goods are trouble.

- You need to know your price points that people are comfortable in trading with you.

- You want products that people like, so check the online reviews first. Any problems will reflect badly on you too. You want products with good reviews.

As a rule here, electronic items are trouble. Returns and queries are much larger with these products than most other lines. 

- It is better to get a branded product with a large existing market than get an exclusive deal with an unknown product. In other words, it's best to be a small fish in a big pond in retail, then a large fish in a puddle. 

But check first if the brand gives you a fair chance to break into their product. If others are selling at prices like what they are offering you, what is the point of handling the item? 

- Before buying items over $50, people want to see them first. This is a significant problem for many online stores but a big plus for shops.

- At any one time in the shop you need new products to experiment with, as a rule, you always need 15 new products in the shop. 

Let me know if these tips are helpful. 

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We are still going through the effects of the recent storms on the east coast of Australia that happened recently. Quite a few systems not protected by Uninterruptible power supply(UPS) were severely affected. Interestingly no one with a UPS got any damage. If you do not have one, please consider getting a UPS.

However, one point that caused some shock to us is that some commercial insurance policies do not protect the damaged equipment here. What you need to check is what happens if you get such equipment failure due to risks beyond your control eg weather.   

Some points to consider: 

- Costs of equipment failure, including repairing and/or replacing items and cost relating to repairs, e.g. transport costs.

- Temporary equipment rental costs to ensure that your business can maintain normal operations 

- Other fees related to this loss

- Business interruption, if you cannot invoice, how can you pay bills. 

Please check this.

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Shopify released a list of products that are trending up now, here.

Unfortunately, they did not release Australian figures. So I went through their list to see what google trends stated was in Australia interesting.

Going through them these three, I think, would be of interest to my clients.

You have to remember that Australia has plenty of time and often want to organise so:

Storage containers

Australia now needs more home storage products to tidy away your belongings. They often need to create a clutter-free home. What they want now is stylish storage.

Bookends

Books have been selling well. People are organising them into some old order. So bookends are in demand as they are a neat solution to tidying up their book collection without spending a lot of money.

Temporary tattoos

Many people want tattoos that last 1-2 weeks and then fade into your skin.

I hope this is of help.

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