Posts

A retail shop displays an open sign in their window.

How to Make a Budget for Your Retail Store

As you look to grow your retail business and ensure you can maintain long-term stability, you will need to create and follow a retail budget. It’s one of the most important tools in small business retail management and can guide you as you make decisions, navigate unexpected changes, and work towards increasing cash flow and optimizing your profit. 

Your budget is something you make annually and adjust regularly based on actual expenses. This is where a skilled bookkeeper or accountant comes in handy! They can help make sure your budget predictions are accurate, and assist you in adjusting it throughout the year.

Being able to handle unexpected expenses on the fly is perhaps a budget’s greatest strength. A small retailer might face anything from windows suddenly covered in graffiti overnight to a global pandemic that forces them to temporarily close their doors. Budgets can help you hope for the best while planning for the worst. Here are the most common expenses a small business owner should consider when making a retail budget. 

Staffing

Everyone knows that retail business owners must regularly budget for their sales associates and store managers’ compensation, but don’t forget to plan for the associated payroll taxes and employee benefits including their time off. Additionally, consider additional labor costs for marketing, graphic design, inventory buying, facility maintenance, and order fulfillment and shipping. Keep in mind that Xendoo can help cut costs here by providing retail bookkeeping and accounting at a lower rate than on-staff employees.

A retail store front with a bike leaning against a post in the foreground

Photo by Sherzod Max on Unsplash

Facility Costs

When you first open your brick & mortar retail business the list of expenses associated with getting your physical space up and running is long. Painting, installing new lighting and hardware, choosing merchandise fixtures, installing electrical outlets, and a security system. Landscaping, adding in new vinyl graphics for your doors and windows, and don’t forget about signs. And there are more costs to maintaining your facility than one might expect. You will need to budget for unexpected expenses like plumbing problems, roof leaks, and ongoing maintenance such as replacing lights, signs, and store fixtures as needed. If your business has a second location you’ll need to make sure you budget separately for each space.

Marketing

Your annual marketing budget will change throughout the year. As you plan it out, keep in mind what times of year are best for sales – around holidays like President’s Day and Memorial Day, and as the seasons change. Plan to budget for paid social media and influencer marketing throughout the year, as well as any email marketing expenses you may incur. And don’t rely solely on digital marketing – your business may get great exposure by marketing through community partnerships, events, and even by mailing postcards to your customers.

Inventory

Inventory buying is one of a retail businesses’ most important and strategic costs to budget for. Retailers must prioritize inventory accounting, and keep a variety of things in mind like current trends, seasonal changes, and what sold well this time last year versus what didn’t. You’ll need to consider discounts and deals your vendors offer throughout the year, as well as freight charges. An excellent tool to consider using as you budget for inventory is an open-to-buy plan. An open-to-buy plan is an inventory management system that shows you how much inventory you can buy throughout the year.

Security

Even the smallest of retail businesses need to budget for loss prevention. Keeping your inventory numbers accurate will help you determine how much shrinkage affects your business. Do you need to increase your security? Perhaps you need to invest in security cameras or loss prevention training for your employees. According to the National Retail Federation, retail shrinkage is on the rise —totaling $61.7 billion in 2019, which is up from $50.6 billion the year before.

Technology

As you plan and review your budget, look for spots where technology might be able to save you money. Are the systems you are using, like an eCommerce platform, credit card machine, and merchant services, or your accounting software too expensive? Are there cheaper solutions? Spend a bit of time researching options and you might find better solutions. Some of your providers might even work together, for instance, Xendoo customers get a discount on Xero and Quickbooks software.

 

Trust us, we know that staying on budget is often easier said than done, especially for small business owners who are stretched for time. A quality bookkeeper or accountant like the team at Xendoo can help you plan and stay on budget, as well as find areas where you can save money through accurate, timely reports and advice. Become a budgeting pro with Xendoo today.

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

Micro-Influencers and Small Retailers: A Perfect Match

We’ve all seen A-list celebrities endorsing mega brands and stores. This marketing strategy’s price tag (up to $1 million for celebrities like Kim Kardashian) is far beyond the scope of most retailers’ budgets, but there’s another way to get in on the endorsement bonanza: social media micro-influencers.

Social media influencers

They are people who have gained popularity on Youtube, Instagram, or other social media platforms. With the followings in the 6 or 7 figures, what they say about you can have a significant impact on your sales figures and brand awareness.

The top social media influences are so famous that their endorsement fees now rival those of Hollywood stars. What’re more, studies show that the larger the influencer’s following, the LESS effect his/her endorsement has on marketing results. That’s because the followers are such a diverse group of people that the product being endorsed just isn’t relevant for many of them.

Micro-influencers

These are the people who cater to a tightly focused niche, either of subject matter or location or both. They have fewer followers, but a higher percentage of those followers are your potential customers. They still have personal credibility; their opinion is as highly valued as a friend’s. And their endorsement is affordable, usually well under $1,000. For small businesses, it’s a perfect solution.

Find your micro-influencers

  • Run your own searches on social media.
  • Reach out to internet personalities you already follow. (Find their contact info in the channel’s “About” section.)
  • Ask existing customers who they follow.
  • Invite proposals from influencers on exchange platforms such as FameBit.
  • Use a talent management agency.

Analyze the influencer’s performance.

  • How relevant the content is to your brand.
  • How often and consistently content is posted.
  • How much the audience interacts with the channel.
  • How often content is shared.
  • Channel’s growth rate.

Analytics companies such as OpenSlate can help with this.

Strike the deal.

There are many ways to compensate an influencer besides money:

  • Provide them with exclusive content, i.e. behind-the-scenes access or sneak previews.
  • Cross-promote them on your store’s website and other marketing channels
  • More audience engagement through giveaways, contests, etc.

By strategically selecting and working with micro-influencers, small businesses can engage with a highly relevant fan base at an affordable cost. And their ROI will probably be better than what the big box competition gets from hiring Kim Kardashian.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

4 Ways for Retailers to Stay Out of the Cash Flow Black Hole

A potential pitfall for any retailer is the time gap between paying the manufacturer for the merchandise you sell and getting paid for it by the customers you sell it to. When that interval lasts too long, cash on hand becomes all too scarce. Here are four smart strategies for staying out of the hole.

Streamline your inventory.

If you have merchandise that sits on the shelf for more than 30 days, you have too much inventory. That means too much of your money is tied up on those shelves. A couple of streamlining tips:

  • Track your sell-through for each SKU, so you know which ones need to be reordered more quickly and which should be discontinued.
  • Don’t be tempted by bulk discount offers from your suppliers unless you have proof positive that those items will sell quickly.

Increase customer spending.

When your revenue per customer goes up, so does your available cash. There are many ways to encourage customers to buy more than they originally planned, including:

  • PWPs and BOGOs. “Buy this camera and get 20% off a camera bag” or “Buy 1 pair of sneakers, get another pair at 50% off.”
  • Upsell and cross-sell suggestions. “This TV has even better resolution than the one you’re looking at” or “Would you like the conditioner to go with the shampoo?”
  • Coupons for the next purchase. Include one in the shopping bag or mail/email it to customers who haven’t been in the store for a while.
  • Loyalty rewards for repeat customers. Accumulate shopping points to earn a discount.

Strategize your payables.

Shorten that gap between money going out and money coming in by waiting as long as possible to pay your supplier: 60 days, 90 days, or whatever it says in your contract.

Take advantage of early payment discounts. If you don’t know whether your supplier offers them, ask.

Consider an inventory loan.

If you’re short on cash but need to restock inventory, an inventory loan may be easier to get than a standard bank loan. That’s because lenders will look at your sales history, not just your credit score.

Paper profits may look nice, but good cash flow is the real indicator of a successful business. Being able to maintain it will improve your credibility … and your ability to take your business wherever you want it to go.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

How Small Retailers Can Win Big Over Mega Stores

Cutthroat prices, huge inventory, massive advertising bucks — a small retailer is bound to feel like David going up against Goliath when competing with the big chains. But, like David, you can win the battle. The trick is to fight it on your ground, not theirs.

Leverage localness

We are located in South Florida and every winter we see our chain store branches offering cold-weather gear, even though it’s rarely needed in our climate. Large national chains are by their nature generic; it’s virtually impossible for them to offer any local flavor. You, on the other hand, can tailor your merchandise mix to the specific tastes and needs of the people in your area.

Stress quality and value

There’s no way you can beat the prices of your big-box competition. So go the opposite route and offer products that are made well and will serve a customer’s needs for years. They cost more but give greater value than an item that fails within a few months of purchase.

Promote uniqueness

Seek out products from smaller manufacturers that won’t be found in big box stores because they can’t meet such large orders. Customers love having alternatives to the mass-produced merchandise that’s the same from one chain to the next.

Help customers find you in local online searches

There’s no way you can top the search engine results page for nationwide searches. But you can use local SEO strategies successfully. They are actually weighted in your favor because Google will penalize any business that sets up multiple website pages for every one of its locations.

  • Create a Google Business page (or check the one you already have for completeness and accuracy)
  • Make sure your location appears on every page of your website
  • Direct inbound traffic from search engines to a location-centric landing page on your website (your address, phone number, store hours, location map)
  • Display links to other local businesses and organizations on your website

Connect with the community

Build customer awareness and loyalty by getting involved with them.

  • Host or participate in community events
  • Contribute to local charities
  • Sponsor a local sports team
  • Form strategic partnerships with complimentary local businesses
  • Invite local social media influencers to visit your store and sample your merchandise

Deliver superior customer service

You have the advantage of one-on-one relationships with your customers, which no big box store can equal. Provide a memorable experience by making them feel recognized, comfortable, and cared for where they shop.

Big stores will always be big players in the retail scene. But small retailers can reach local customers on a level above and beyond what national chains can do. Those are the ones that will survive and thrive.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

3 Great Cash Flow Ideas for Retailers

What do a used book store, garden nursery, and boutique clothing shop all have in common?

No, this isn’t the set up to a joke. Unfortunately, all three types of businesses are at risk of failing if their cash flow isn’t in good shape. According to the Small Business Administration, “inadequate cash reserves” is a top reason small businesses close their doors for good.

So whether you sell novels, shovels, or dresses with ruffles — if you’re a retailer, cash flow is king.

What exactly is cash flow?

Think of it like a checking account. Cash flow looks at all the money coming in and out of your business each month. If there’s more coming in than going out, you’re in the green! If you’re spending more than comes in, read on. That means your cash flow is negative and your business could be in trouble

Here are three simple ways to get your cash flowing in the right direction.

1. Bundle products

If you sell several accessories apart from your core offering, try packaging them together with a small discount. This can also be an effective way of clearing out dead stock while creating goodwill with your customers, who feel like they’re walking away with a great deal.

2. Understand the risks of discounting

If you do decide to bundle products or offer another type of sale, make sure you know exactly how that will impact your bottom line. You should know the profit margins on every product you sell and your overall cost basis – it’s the only way to determine if you’ll break even with the sale or take a loss.

3. Encourage repeat business

Offering perks or freebies to returning customers helps create loyalty and makes it easier for them to choose you over other options. Go old school with a punch card, get creative with a contest, or print an offer on receipts that are good for a future purchase.

If you’re struggling to determine the state of your cash flow, it could be time to call in for some backup. With Xendoo’s suite of affordable bookkeeping and consulting services, you’ll be able to spend more time at the “cash-out” bringing the cash.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.