3 Ways to Optimize Your Business to Crush the Competition
You know that your business is special, but how do you convert your unique qualifications and offerings into sales? Sometimes, even the most unique and highest quality businesses need a leg up to get their customers’ attention. Fortunately, you’re willing to research and implement the latest technology and tools to help you get there.
The business landscape is constantly changing, so your commitment to mastering more than your craft is essential. First, identify your goals in optimizing your business, so your focus can remain at the forefront. Some businesses will prioritize efficiency while others will want to expand their reach. No matter your goals, there are tools, technology, and support that can help you crush the competition.
1. Make Your Small Shop Run Like a Large One
If your business is in its earlier days, you’re likely experiencing the pinch of growing pains. As you review your operations for ways to optimize your processes and procedures, one need may become abundantly clear — you need to hire more staff. But taking on the responsibility of hiring full or even part-time team members is not only a financial commitment.
The recruitment process, cost of benefits, and time needed to train staff takes away resources you may not have. Pair this with the need to sustain their employment for years, and you may be tempted to struggle through. However, you can reap the benefits of additional support without the monetary and time outlay.
Consider implementing a complete e-commerce solution to help you manage the entire process of delivering products to your customers. Typically consisting of software and processes that make modern workflows a reality, these solutions are cost effective and smart. Lean on the expertise in warehousing, shipping, and support to provide a smoother process and excellent customer experience.
2. Personalize Your Customer Experience
Everyone wants to feel special and cared for, even when buying products online. While there are many customers for a business, showing them they’re appreciated can encourage loyalty. Take a look at your existing customer experience, the data you currently collect, and identify opportunities to implement personalization.
Personalization is the process of tailoring communication or experiences based on the data you know about your customer. Opt-in interest, demographic information, and assumptions based on similar customers can all influence your application of personalization. How you personalize will vary based on your business, but skipping this step can put you behind the competition. Using the goals you defined at the beginning, identify where you can start using personalization.
Reference your customer resource management or CRM system to see what data you have consistently across your database. Focus first on using the data you have most widely, as opposed to niche information to boost efficiency and efficacy. Use merge tags within email communication and track web browsing data to suggest new products while shopping. Track actions after personalized suggestions to improve your process over time.
3. Implement Automation to Improve Productivity
If you’ve ever wished you had more hands or time in the day, automation is for you. Automation is the use of technology to conduct repetitive or predictable tasks. There is some work that must be done up front to identify automation-friendly tasks, but the effort can pay dividends. Review your current processes for repetitive or consistent actions, even those that seem easy to accomplish. Keep the idea of automation in your mind as you go about your day and take note of potential candidates.
If you’re an online retailer, you may be responding to customer orders and inquiries on your own. Deploy e-commerce solutions to automate the process that kicks off after a customer clicks “place order.” With one click, their order will be sent to the provider responsible with fulfilling, sending, and tracking the delivery. Boost your efficiency by layering in support that alerts customers of their order status before they request an update.
Schedule re-engagement campaigns for recent orders by developing email marketing content that suggests new or repeat purchases. If you’re selling a product that needs replacement regularly, use product sizing and re-order trends to develop a cadence. If you’re selling candles with a 50-hour burn rate, use what you know about burn frequency to anticipate needs. Build in time for consideration, purchase, and shipping when you plan out your email automation. Ideally, your reminder to place a re-order will arrive in their inbox at just the right time.
Follow Change Management Best Practices Throughout Your Optimization Journey
Making strides toward business growth is exciting, but it’s also tempting to spend more time dreaming than doing. And even if you get to the action phase, it’s not always a guarantee that your changes earned positive results. One way of improving your odds of success is committing to following change management best practices.
Use the PDCA Cycle or the plan-do-check-act cycle to design quality into your improvement plan. Just as its accompanying graphic indicates, the cycle has no end and is meant to repeat to ensure continuous improvement. When used consistently, your business optimization efforts can be planned strategically, assessed thoroughly, and adjusted accordingly. Over time, you’ll implement lasting improvements that deliver on your bottom line and delight customers, bringing them back for more.