Most people are familiar with the international bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide. What if we could apply this knowledge to religious retail business? That's what we're going to do here!

As any business owner knows, success doesn't happen overnight. Rather, retailers must repeatedly apply core principles to achieve their goals. This has become especially important with the rapid shift of retail in the past decade. Consumer buying habits have evolved, with many people turning to online sources. While the religious gift shop industry is generally growing, the demographics and methods for reaching consumers will continue to change.

Fortunately, the core tenets of running a business are future-proof. Follow these 7 habits of highly successful retailers to improve customer service and grow your business for years to come: 

#1. They Stand Behind Their Unique Mission

What makes a religious retailer successful? Namely, knowing their “why.” This gives them a sense of clarity and purpose that allows them to focus on creating the best customer experience possible. When you establish your specialty as a religious retailer, you have the ability to offer one-on-one recommendations and bring your passion for the business to the point-of-sale. From here, you will build a company culture that consistently exemplifies the principles you value.

#2. They Put Their Customers’ Experience First

As a business owner or manager, you likely have one goal: to increase sales. If you truly want to become a highly effective business, you must enhance your customer experience at every step of the process. These acts of customer service can come in any size and at any time (think before, during, and after the sale). Examples include: 

  • Send personalized welcome emails to new customers 
  • Use unique and memorable product packaging
  • Engage with your followers on social media
  • Offer free gift wrapping or engraving 

Elicit customer feedback regularly using a tool like Survey Monkey to continually improve your customer experience. Double down on what's working well and make it a priority to fix anything that isn't. 

gift wrapping

#3. They Stand By Their Products

If you want to know how to make a small retail business successful, start by looking at your products. Your vendors and distributors should all share the same commitment to quality you want to embody. If you notice a trend developing in returns from a certain vendor, for example, it might be time to explore other options.

Consider dedicating a certain period of time each month to managing relationships with vendors for maximum quality assurance. McVan proudly offers a warranty for both retailers and end-customers, so you know you’re getting a long-lasting and high-quality product.

Lastly, successful retailers are proactive. If a product is delayed or discontinued, be transparent with the customer and offer a resolution that works for both of you.

#4. They Know Their Competition and Market

The saying “knowledge is power” has stood the test of time for a reason. In the age of information, retailers have more power than ever to research and understand the competition that surrounds them. Actionable suggestions for intelligence include:

  • Use Google Trends, a free tool that helps businesses like yours determine what’s trending online in your area. Local search volumes can help inform your own purchasing decisions with vendors and distributors, as you’ll better understand what your consumers want. For example, this chart shows that people of Virginia are more interested in searching for content related to Our Lady of Guadalupe, while West Virginia is more interested in St. Christopher.

#5. They Lower Costs and Speed Up Processes

In a highly competitive marketplace, religious retailers like you must do everything possible to streamline work processes and lower overhead costs. While all businesses must spend money to make money, spending the right way could make all the difference in your success. For example:

  • Spend time and money researching the best ways to buy inventory, design winning displays, and hire effective employees.
  • Implement a point-of-sale system that streamlines your sales process and securely processes payments.

#6. They Find Innovative Ways to Increase Sales

Though most of these tips are future-proof, the nature of innovation will change with the times. As a religious retailer in a competitive retail landscape, you must know when to take a risk and invest. Current trends in retail suggest that experiences will become more dominant, and customers will crave a more customized approach to shopping.

You can cater to this by adding personalized or experiential aspects to your in-store experiences, such as offering a free coffee hour with pastries and beverages or allowing a group to host a book club or bible study at your shop.

 bible study
#7. They Make a Plan and Take Action

Finally, make a point to set goals and stand by them. Learn about the science of goal setting and how to follow through on them. Specifically, we like:

  • Warren Buffet’s 25-5 Rule, which states that you should make a list of 25 career goals then circle the 5 most important, which helps you eliminate the waste inherent in the other 20.
  • The Ivy Lee Method, which involves writing down and ranking only 6 items on a to-do list for the next day. This age-old method will help you stay on task and achieve business success.

These 7 future-proof habits of highly successful religious retailers will help you stay on track, assure commitment to quality, and offer superior customer experiences. Which habits will you implement in your retail business? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

McVan 2018 State of the Religious Retailer Industry Report