Future proofing your retail business

We are living in unprecedented challenging economic times with most of the economic pressure coming from external sources. The cost pressures for everyone and especially charities is considerable with most being very concerned if their unrestricted income from retail will be secure in the future. To future proof a charity retail business there are a range of stages that are proven if followed because every charity retailer is slightly different and there are no short cuts.

The recommended process is as follows:
Review your current retail business

  • Carry out an honest appraisal / review of the whole current retail business using a range of highly detailed quantitative tools.
  • Complete a robust qualitative review based on the current operational practices and compare to the latest and future best practices (online and shops).

Project future sales and costs

  • Project the future sales performance/cost projection of the retail business by shop location and online selling platforms if the retail operation remains the same as it is currently.
  • Project the future sales performance/cost projections of the retail business by shop location and online selling platforms if the retail operation adopts the latest and future best practices (online and shops).

Develop your retail strategy
Whilst many people naturally lean towards a 5-year strategy, we recommend a 3-year strategy or detailed reviews every year if you prefer a longer strategy. This is because retail is changing fast and to ensure it remains relevant some refreshing / updating is highly recommended.

  • Consider the expansion / contraction / consolidation options to generate additional unrestricted income.
  • Discuss the findings internally and agree the overarching retail strategy.
  • Produce the financial modelling to support the overarching retail strategy with enough detail to obtain board approval.
  • Write the retail strategy with a range of landmark, detailed financial modelling, and schedule review dates (yearly).

Key areas to review, project and to include within the retail strategy.
People are critically important to all charity retail business, but this element is often not covered in enough detail within charity retail strategies. Their capability, training, development, retention, reward, recruitment and retail structure should be reviewed and included within the strategy. Also consider the volunteer recruitment strategy and how effective it is currently and what needs to change too.

Before any thought of expansion, it is prudent to review the current performance of each shop and the online operation in considerable detail. Consider implementing the future best practices and making commercial decisions about shop locations that are not performing and are not likely to improve in the future.

Do consider superstores, donation centres, new shop locations, shop formats and how the business will generate enough quality donations in the future.

Most charities currently sell online, although the vast majority are still not fully efficient and automated. The key for future online trading is integration of technologies – EPOS – Selling Platforms and Logistics Companies and automation of as many processes as possible. This should be the foundation of all online retail strategies.

The other aspect is to ensure engagement of the shop teams with selling their donations online and this is critically important. The best method is direct sales credit to their EPOS sales as soon as something is sold online.

The importance of technology and data within charity retail has been growing and this will continue. Consider ensuring there is technology available in shops to allow Teams / Zoom meetings. Consider ensuring all sales related data is not in silos (online and shops separate for example).

If your retail business does not have an up-to-date Retail Strategy for any reason, then this check list is a suitable place to start. If your Retail Strategy need updating, then do use this check list to ensure nothing key is missed.

Sometimes having some external input can be very helpful, therefore if you need further advice or support, then please do not hesitate to contact the UK’s leading Charity Retail Consultancy.

Charity Retail Training & Support Services are a UK registered training provider, made up of a varied team of skilled specialists. Our team provide charities with the support they need to achieve their goals. Our breadth of experience and dedication empowers countless charities to optimise the return from their retail outlets.

If you would like to find out more about our Brand Directory or any of the other ways that we have helped so many charities with their retail business, please get in touch at hello@charityretailtraining.co.uk or on 0208 050 7514.

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