Business Toolbox

BID Leamington’s Business Toolbox provides quick reference tips on a variety of subjects and many of these are contributed by local businesses themselves. The Toolbox will be added to on a regular basis, so please keep an eye on this section for new tips:

Black Friday

Black Friday is coming

Black Friday takes place on November 25th in 2022 …

Since its launch in the UK in 2010, when Amazon imported it from the US, Black Friday has changed peak trading patterns for retailers, frequently drawing spend forward in advance of the Christmas period. Many retailers in the UK now participate, though some have refused to participate in previous years in favour of keeping prices low all year round, while others prefer to ‘give back’ – offering a percentage of sales to good causes. 

Many customers have come to expect generous discounts and some retailers enjoy their busiest sales days of the year during this week. However these extra sales can come at the cost of reduced profit margins. If your business is deciding whether or not to participate this year then this blog may help you reach your own conclusions.

In order to make this promotion work for you and your business it’s worth asking yourself a few questions:

  • Have you done any competitor research? Who is getting involved and will my business be left out or lead the way?
  • Can I re -merchandise my existing sale items to fulfill customer expectations?
  • If your business sells stock from a website, are you prepared for extra online sales, influx of click and collect orders, can you fulfill orders quickly?
  • How will I inform my existing loyal customers about the discounts I am offering and how can I engage with potential new customers?
  • Can you increase your flexibility and extend trading hours?
  • How much effort/investment do I have to input in order to secure a return on investment that I am comfortable with?

There are various pros and cons to this promotion, if managed well, retailers can look after their margins while managing to generate extra sales and acquire new customers. Deciding what to discount can be challenging. Going back to basics Black Friday is an opportunity to sell through old inventory/discontinued lines. This can pave the way to introduce newer stock in time for Christmas/January. If you can’t offer extra discount then free delivery, a free gift with purchase etc. can help convert the discerning customer. In addition, it is worth reviewing your current return/exchange policies during this discounting event.

People have a real intent to purchase around Black Friday week. Potential customers who may come into your business for sale items can translate into incremental sales on non-sale items too, with customers coming to see if that item they wanted has been discounted and then often buying it even if it isn’t included. So have your full-price best sellers in prime position.

Writing a Press Release

We have put together some helpful tips on writing a press release. If you have something to SHOUT about to the media, take a look at the tips below.

  • Press releases must be typed, dated and well presented. Use double line spacing and large margins and try to fit it on one A4 page.
  • Your headline must grab attention; it should describe the news story, be short and to the point and it must sell the story!
  • Your news story should be explained in the first sentence, more detail can be given in following paragraphs.
  • The first paragraph should answer the questions: who? what? why? where? and when? It must also contain the most important information at the top and ALWAYS highlight the positive angles.
  • Use simple language and include: a quote, dates, prices, locations, telephone numbers and your website.
  • Send your release on printed letterhead with ‘PRESS RELEASE’ at the top.
  • Do not underline anything and don’t forget to Proof it!
  • Finish by putting ‘Ends’ and add your contact details under a ‘Notes for Editors’ or ‘For further details contact:’ section underneath.

Distributing your Press Release

  • Traditionally, press releases were printed on hard copy and distributed via the post – some still prefer that. However e-mail distribution is now widely accepted.
  • When sending releases by e-mail, use the blind copy function.
  • Paste your release into the main body of an e-mail instead of adding as an attachment.
  • Do not attach hi-resolution images – instead state their availability.

Top PR Tips

  • Research your media and build relationships with journalists.
  • Try to meet a visiting journalist in person and ask if there’s anything they need.
  • Deliver material, on time and to deadline – try to have everything at your finger tips for interviews.
  • Make sure your news is “newsworthy”.
  • Pictures speak a thousand words.
  • Don’t forget online publications – most magazines have an online presence.
  • Don’t complain unless you feel you have a genuine grievance.
  • Don’t panic – journalists are keen to write accurate, positive thing

Internet Retailing –
Website Development Tips

The following information was put together by Graham Davidson from Plus One LLP. He was recently the guest speaker at the Chamber of Trade Business Breakfast and kindly summarized his key points for this newsletter.

  • Make sure you have TOTAL ownership of your own domain name e.g. do not let an agency or web developer register it in their name on your behalf.
  • Define your objectives for your website so you have something to check its performance against and always have Google Analytics included so you can measure its success.
  • When picking a Web Developer to work with ask for examples of their work and references and consider not only the initial cost but the ongoing cost of hosting and updating.
  • Don’t let your Web Developers fool you with “smoke and mirrors”. If you don’t understand something, don’t be afraid to ask – you are the customer at the end of the day!
  • Check how your website looks on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. You should provide mobile visitors to your website with an enjoyable viewing experience.
  • Get friends, family and business colleagues to try your website and give you their feedback on it. Just because you are comfortable using it, your audience might have vital advice they can provide.
  • If you are choosing your own Internet hosting company, try to establish whether you can contact them quickly by phone or email.
  • There are many ways to draw traffic to your website – are you making the most of Twitter, Facebook and blogs?
  • Include an email newsletter sign-up facility on your website to develop customer loyalty and keep people up-to-date with your business.
  • Make the personality of your business shine through the internet. It should be about the WOW factor and how you are different from anyone else out there.

Barclays – Business Planning

For some useful tips on how to write a business plan please see Barclays Bank A Guide to Writing A Business Plan

Top 10 tips to maximise your sales during Christmas

Tip 1.Stock merchandising 

  • Section store into potential buying categories E.g  Men’s gifts ,Women’s gifts, under £10, stocking fillers
  • keep practical – Bulk buys are eye catching but make sure the customer can shop from them nothing to high/low 
  • Clear the decks! Tidy up stockrooms and back of house spaces. Making sure you’ve got everything to hand and all your staff know where to find replenishing stock

Tip 2. Help people choose easily

  •  Not too much choice – less can be more we can all feel over whelmed trying to make quick decisions
  • Keep up to date with current trends don’t miss the latest festive fad.
  • ‘Top 5’ Gifts – can’t go wrong!
  • Display your ‘Well reviewed’ / ‘new’ / ‘our bestselling’ items in an eye catching location

 Tip 3. Impulse Buys

  •  Ready wrapped
  • At till / add-ons
  • Add additional low price points

 Tip 4. Efficient experience

  • A hassle free experience may lead to repeat customers next year
  • Review processes to get faster without compromising customer experience
  • Pre-plan and pre-prepare everything to make each transaction smooth
  • Have your best sellers within easy reach to replenish quickly
  • Discuss with teams how you can improve existing processes

 Tip 5. Get Staffing right

  •  Get Christmas temporary staff early enough
  • Train only on essentials
  • Back-up plans / spare key-holders
  • Consider incentive’s based on your KPI’S
  • Try avoid Lone trading for long periods

 Tip 6. Protect profits   

  • Review exchange policy – Different at Christmas
  • Offering a gift receipt option can offer the customer reassurance
  • Easy time for thieves / try extra training and consider extra loss prevention methods
  • Take time to walk through your store daily for blind spots or potential security risks

 Tip 7. Create a launch event

  •  Aim at your core customer
  • Launch Christmas – excite!
  • Use social media channels to create a  buzz and WOW factor
  • Have in-store and online ‘Wish Lists’

Tip 8. Time is precious don’t waste theirs!

  •  Free gift wrap next to the till
  • Manage the queues- A little Festive treat while you wait lightens the mood
  • Wish Lists / ‘drop a hint’ cards
  • Extended opening hours
  • Collect-in-store
  • Best buys in stacked in bulk, wrapped and ready to purchase

 Tip 9. DON’T discount too soon

  • There’s no need – it kills your margin.
  • Hold your nerve! If you crumble then locate all sale in one location
  • Encourage higher ATV or multi-buy only
  • No one wants to see their presents reduced the next day

 Tip 10. Create a fun mood  ‘tis the season to be jolly’ 

  •  Don’t forget your Christmas jumper – it’s a great way to get that festive feeling
  • Festive treats and fizz create theater and help relax buyers
  • Most people love buying gifts so be chatty and engage with customers about their purchase (If time allows it)
  • Wish everyone a lovely Christmas with sincerity
  • Staff incentives can make all the difference to morale no matter the reward- Team work makes the dream work!

Social Media Top Tips

The following information was put together by Elizabeth Short. Elizabeth is a Digital Executive at Leader Communications and kindly summarized her key points for this newsletter.

Useful Social Media Sites: Facebook, Twitter, Google +, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest

  • Choose a good username and/or page-name. Don’t use symbols or underscores where possible. The simpler the text the better so people can remember it and find you.
  • Set clear goals. Decide what you want to achieve by being on social media sites? Brand recognition, increased sales, event attendance or fans…
  • Link to your social media pages on your website via a button or widget and vice versa.
  • Quality and not quantity. There are 100’s of different social media sites. It is better to spend quality time on a few sites, than try to be on all of them.
  • Gaining good quality fans takes time and effort. Incentives like competitions, vouchers and exclusive offers can be used. Also, encourage your fans to share your posts!
  • Let your personality shine. Be fresh, interesting, helpful and engaging – talk about what you do and why, and share stories and information using your brand’s own unique voice.
  • Make your fans feel valued and special by announcing special offers, events and discounts on your social media pages first and use it to build anticipation.
  • Just changed your phone number? Stay up to date and post it on your profiles.
  • Check, recheck and double-check your privacy settings. Rules and regulations often change and these can affect you and your business.
  • Be on your best behaviour – word travels fast and it can come back to you at a later date.

Elizabeth presented a great session on using social media – with a particular focus on Facebook and Twitter. Based on this we have produced a summery called ‘Twitter Skills’ which you can download here.

Please also contact us if you would like any help or advice on this.

A Little Bit of TED

For 10 minutes of inspiration, TED is filled with “Ideas worth spreading”, from creating cutting-edge advertising to

Retail 2020 – Change is coming, are you ready?

Every 10 years, Jones Lang LaSalle makes predictions for the next 10 years in retail. Their ‘5 Key Lessons from the Future’ highlights many practical consequences of the trends outlined in Retail 2020.
Here is a glimpse of the new Retail Rulebook:

  • Approach technology as a mindset, not merely a tool – Technology will be the gamechanger while consumer ‘relevancy’ and ‘experience’ will define competition. In 2020 more than half of all non-food retail transactions will be digitally influenced.
  • Sustainability is a big risk, but also an opportunity, for retail investors – There is a danger that the green agenda will catch retail on the hop over the coming decade. The business case proves that green is simply good practice. There are implications for developers, investors, landlords and retailers alike.
  • Upskill, partner and diversify to survive – With a new breed of workers capable of taking risks, innovating, making connections and working across silos, the key to survival and growth is employees and their attitudes.
  • Get them and keep them – marketing comes of age – With unprecedented choice, achieving customer magnetism is the challenge. Silent no more, retail will reach out to consumers, sharing information, planning their shopping and being a part of their communities.
  • Quality (or true convenience) will out – We are seeing the rise of ‘concentrated success’. At one end we see big centres and super dominant offers. At the other is an old model in centres and high streets which have to look at ways to fight back.

Mary Portas – 3 Key Survival Questions

Having illuminated the plight of the UK’s high streets, and with a passion for vision-led retail, her recommendation is to ask some serious questions of your business:

  • Experience: What is your retail experience and are you connecting that to the consumer?
  • Specialism: Be a specialist – are you best practice at what you sell? And do you have a real in-depth knowledge about what you sell?
  • Service: Are you connecting with your customer? Are you speaking to your customer? Are you making them feel terrific every time they walk into your shop?

For more detailed advice visit her