A new year means a fresh start. It’s the perfect opportunity to reassess, refresh and take your business to the next level.
Here are some tips to help your business kick off 2016 with a bang.
1. Establish your business New Year’s resolutions.
Setting some New Year’s resolutions for your business is just as important as promising to hit the gym more often. This is your chance to challenge yourself with some new business goals and reinforce your brand. Whether it’s meeting your financial targets, winning over some new customers or strengthening ties with existing clients, setting some specific objectives will help you stay focused throughout the year.
2. Check in with your customers.
If you’re looking to retain and gain new customers this year, then it’s time to step up your customer-service game. My company, Endicia, makes it a point to schedule in-person customer visits just to check in. How else can you make customers feel like they’re being heard? Make sure to reply to your customers within a 24-hour window. Show loyal customers you value them by offering them something extra like free shipping or special discounts. And if you really want to go above and beyond, my go-to move is to bake some chocolate chip cookies. Nothing says you care like a batch of fresh homemade treats.
3. Freshen up your website.
Now is the perfect time to revisit your website and make sure everything is current, so you can provide better customer service and improve the ecommerce sales process. Check that all the links on your website are still active. Peruse your online store, review your offerings and get rid of any products or services that are outdated or no longer serve their purpose.
Is your website mobile-friendly? As of April 21, 2015, Google started rewarding mobile-optimized websites in search results on smartphones by boosting sites that are mobile-friendly (i.e. has a responsive design, loads quickly on all devices) and bumping down sites that aren’t. Mobile search trends will continue to grow in 2016, so it’s more important than ever to prioritize mobile now.
4. Figure out your shipping strategy.
The big three shipping carriers — FedEx®, UPS® and USPS® — have recently increased their rates, so it’s more critical than ever to re-examine your shipping mix. UPS and FedEx raised their rates on December 28, 2015 and January 4, 2016 respectively, and the U.S. Postal Service® raised its rates on January 17, 2016.
Given these changes, what’s the most cost-effective solution for retailers? In most cases, the USPS is still the best value for online businesses shipping lighter-weight packages. It’s also worth noting that if your business is shipping to residential and/or rural customers, UPS and FedEx apply surcharges for these types of deliveries while USPS does not. Online retailers should start planning right away by taking a good hard look at each shipping carrier and comparing costs.
5. Consider investing in shipping software.
As of January 17, 2016, Commercial Base and Commercial Plus pricing are no longer available on the USPS website. If you’d like to continue to benefit from the Commercial Base and Commercial Plus pricing discounted rates offered by the USPS, you’ll want to use an electronic postage provider to print your shipping labels.
In addition to saving you money, shipping software can help you streamline and automate your entire shipping process, saving you countless, precious hours.
These are just a few ways to help get your business in tip top shape for the New Year. The most important thing is to take the time to look at your brand as a whole and consider whether it still reflects your core values and overall vision. Best of luck in 2016!