Whether it’s shopping malls and big-box stores or Amazon and Chewy.com, it’s easy for an independent retailer to feel threatened or even defeated by the competition. Brick and mortar has weathered a lot in the past decade. In addition to competition, social media marketing, influencers, online reviews, subscription boxes and delivery on demand all make it challenging to own a physical business.

But I believe — I know — the outlook for retail stores is bright, especially for retailers who are consistent and data-driven! Here are three solutions to get you on the right track to collecting and using data to your advantage.

Solution 1: Have the Right Software

More than ever, it’s easy to improve your ability to connect with customers and to influence them. To do that, you need a good CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system like Mail Chimp, Constant Contact or Active Campaign. CRMs capture their information and allow you to engage them in a digital marketing.

Retailers are also testing out text-messaging with select customers by using eztexting.com or Skipio. Last, you need a modern, cloud-based POS (point-of-sale) system that’s user-friendly and mobile, like Springboard Retail or Lightspeed.

Solution 2: Collect the Data

As uncomfortable as it is, you must ask for it. Ask for it! Often, retailers feel reticent to request personal information. It can feel uncomfortable, and many sales associates will just skip the process at the register out of fear. But the reality is that utilizing the information correctly can provide a more valuable, relevant and enjoyable experience for your customer.

Ask for all the key data sources like email, phone number, address, ZIP code, dog breed, dog size, favorite place to be with their dog (or something fun that allows you to get to know them better). Then one of the most critical aspects of all of this is actually assigning a customer’s name to each and every purchase. Seventy-nine percent of customers want retailers to send them personalized offers based on purchase history, and the only way to do that is by tracking their actions and behaviors with your business.

Years Of Collecting Images and Ideas Made This Store a 'Dream Come True'

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Solution 3: Analyze the Data & Take Action

No matter how much you collect, data is meaningless without analysis. There are a variety of reports you can pull, and I recommend you look at it from two perspectives: First are the reports that show KPIs (key performance indicators) like sales reports, average sale by employee, inventory levels, best and worst vendor and products, busy times, etc. Second, you can pull reports about your customers ... top customers (for a specific department, for a given time period, based on sales volume or frequency). You can even monitor when people stop shopping so you can re-engage them.

Tracking customer data will help you make decisions about the inventory you carry, what type of marketing you should do, promotions, and the types of events you should hold. Export this data from your system and target customers with specific ads on Facebook, like ads for upcoming events, sales or new product announcements. Or, shoot, even pick up the phone to just say thank you!

The Harvard Business Review says that “Increasing your customer retention rate by 5 percent can increase your profitability by 25 to 95 percent.” Wow! I like those odds! The best way to engage your customers is to make gathering information from them easy, being consistent in collecting information and engaging them on a customized level, to build brand loyalty and create experiences they love.

Candace D’Agnolo owns successful pet business Dogaholics and offers business consulting at Pet Boss Nation. For help creating a customized 90-day plan to tackle all your business goals, download a free worksheet, at petbossnation.com/petsplus. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


This article originally appeared in the June 2018 edition of PETS+. 

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