Onward & Upward: 9 Ways Small Retailers Are Moving Forward in 2023

If it seems like you’ve spent the last few years reacting or just simply treading water, you’re not alone. Between shifting regulations, staffing shortages, wonky supply chains, and record inflation, many small retailers can relate to feeling stuck and waiting to see what happens before figuring out their next moves.

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New year, new strategy

But with a new year comes a new chapter, and more and more small retail business owners are ready for growth.

We asked a number of small retailers what they were looking forward to in 2023. If there’s a theme to the conversations we’ve had about retail in the new year, it’s this: enough is enough already. Small retail business owners are understandably tired of being in constant survival and reactive modes, and are increasingly thinking about tactical ways to grow in the new year.

These New Year’s resolutions may help inspire and guide anyone operating  an online or brick-and-mortar shop.

2023 resolutions for small retailers

1. Clean up your brand’s online presence

There’s no doubt about it - the internet changes fast. The way consumers interact with online content today is generally totally different than it was five years ago. So if your store’s website is looking a little long in the tooth, it might be time for a face lift. Consider sprucing up your site by freshening up copy, shooting up-to-date marketing photos, and making sure it’s as mobile-friendly as your customers are.

2. Level up your technology

When it comes to software, we’re living in a time of absolute abundance. New digital tools that streamline the operations for retail businesses launch every day. If you’re still running your shop like it’s 2017, make 2023 the year you finally optimize. From inventory management and payroll solutions, to point-of-sale systems and delivery integrations, there’s typically a digital solution for everything that ails you.

3. Invest in your team

For many small retailers, the past few years have been a constant race to hire and retain the smallest possible team needed to keep the doors open. It seems like assembling a long-term staff today is more competitive and complex than it’s ever been - a task that’s made even more difficult with budget constraints. If you’re hoping to slow the constant hiring and scheduling emergencies, investing in your staff (think: offering competitive raises, benefits, and/ or bonuses, creating professional development opportunities, or hosting team events) may make for a great 2023 resolution.

4. Free up some cash flow

Who couldn’t use a little extra working capital each month? Many small retailers are carrying messy and/or expensive debt, and might benefit from refinancing with a less expensive loan. Increasing cash flow and decreasing debt obligations may be a smart way to finance your 2023 priorities.

5. Develop a proactive marketing strategy

There are typically few better ways to take back control in the new year than investing in an intentional marketing plan. Whether you decide to launch a new loyalty program, start a company newsletter, create a unique advertising campaign, or simply get a jump on your holiday season promotion - make 2023 the year you raise your marketing game.

6. Become more active in the local community

Small businesses are the lifeblood of neighborhoods, and building a community around your store may help strengthen and grow any brick-and-mortar retail business. When it comes to local business marketing, many rewarding strategies may be a considerable upfront investment (from sponsoring your local farmers’ market or sports league to hosting events for a regional cause), but typically pay off in customer loyalty and word-of-mouth.

7. Give your shop a face lift

Ready to invest in that storefront curb appeal to attract more foot traffic? Or maybe this is finally the year you commission those custom display cases. Whatever your renovation dreams, making upgrades to your space (or the equipment your store relies on) is generally a good resolution to help make 2023 the best year yet.

8. Seize more opportunities

Still haunted by all the times you had to pass on an opportunity that could have been a game changer? If only you had the funding waiting for whatever move you decide to make next… That’s exactly what the SmartBiz® business line of credit provides. If you qualify, you may be able to secure access to funds now, use them to take advantage of whatever opportunity comes your way in the new year (or beyond), and pay interest only on what you actually use.

9. Apply for that SBA loan

It’s no surprise that many small business retailers look forward to securing an SBA-backed loan. With longer repayment terms and lower rates, SBA loans may help finance the resolutions that will help your store grow. If your business has been operational for more than two years and is in solid financial health, you’re likely a good candidate. You can find out if you pre-qualify with no impact to your credit score.*

Final thoughts

For many small retailers, 2023 is poised to be a long-awaited year of creativity, movement, and growth. Instead of waiting to weather the next storm, it seems like it’s finally time to start heading for the horizon again. These forward-looking resolutions are inspiring and, with so many smart funding options available, they may actually be achieved.

*We conduct a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, in processing your loan application, the lenders with whom we work will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and happens after your application is in the funding process and matched with a lender who is likely to fund your loan.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The SmartBiz® Small Business Blog and other related communications from SmartBiz Loans® are intended to provide general information on relevant topics for managing small businesses. Be aware that this is not a comprehensive analysis of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide specific recommendations to you or your business with respect to the matters addressed. Please consult legal and financial processionals for further information.

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