While all of your customers are working on their New Year’s resolutions, you’re trying to take a breather from the craziness of the holidays and winter show season. However, the start of a brand new year is the perfect time for your retail business to clean house, make some important changes and prepare for the upcoming year.

From point-of-sale updates to your overall business plan, consider our top five tips for preparing for the new year.

Launch an E-commerce Site

One of the best ways to expand your retail business in 2013 is to launch an e-commerce website to sell your goods and products to online customers. InternetRetailer.com reports, “Online shoppers in the United States will spend $327 billion in 2016, up 45% from $226 billion this year and 62% from $202 billion in 2011.” If you’re not selling online, you’re missing out on a large chunk of your customer base.

But, how do you get started?

  • Connect your online sales system to your store’s POS system to keep track of online and on-site sales and inventory.
  • Look into the many do-it-yourself e-commerce software solutions available to guide you through the process of buying your domain name and launching your online store.
  • If an out-of-the-box e-commerce website isn’t what you need as far as flexibility and customization, hire a web designer to create one to your exact specifications.

 

Go Mobile

If you already have an online presence for your retail store, consider branching out into the mobile marketplace. According to a Pew Research study, half of all U.S. adults now own a mobile device that connects to the web. From 2011 to 2012, there was 103% growth in online traffic from smartphones (Hubspot).

  • Start by creating a mobile version of your website so that customers can access product information and make purchases on the go. This can and should be very simple.
  • Decide what type of mobile apps to use. Mobile apps can serve a variety of purposes, from the informational to the entertaining, all in the name of promoting your brand and increasing conversions.
  • Create some mobile banner ads. These ads, which can lead to a coupon or straight to your mobile site, are a great way to engage new customers.

 

Upgrade Your Software

Each year, you should assess your current business software usage and needs. Software that was perfect for your business this time last year may now be inadequate for a variety of reasons. POS software, for example, is integral to your retail store and should always be up to date for a variety of reasons.

  • Perform an audit on your POS, payroll, employee management and customer relationship management (CRM) software to make sure it’s working properly. Check your add-ons and integration processes to make sure your connections still work.
  • Consider switching to cloud-based software. 2012 was the year that “the cloud” gained fame and notoriety as the next big thing in business and consumer software. Your business may be able to save a lot of money—while expanding functionality—by switching to a cloud-based service.

 

Start Prepping for Tax Season

Taxes are a headache for everyone, but the sooner you do it the better off you’ll be. Because a lot of your time and effort will go into preparing for tax season, now is the time to begin.

  • Even if you started tax preparations in November, you still need to update your revenue and financial records to include year-end data from 2012.
  • As a small business, you may be the one responsible for collecting and reporting your tax information to the IRS. Consider outsourcing some or all of this process to an accountant or other tax professional who can guarantee that their work will be accurate and IRS-approved.

 

Set Goals for the Year

Look back on 2012 and assess your marketing, sales, and overall business strategy. What worked? What didn’t? In light of this information, set realistic goals for the new year—but be prepared to amend them during the year in reaction to special circumstances such as hurricanes and fiscal cliffs.

The start of the year is a good time to look back on the previous year and to prepare for the new one. Your preparations should cover all aspects of your business—from infrastructure to marketing goals—to make your business ready for 2013.

Megan Webb-Morgan is a web content writer for Resource Nation. She writes about small business, focusing on topics such as business sales. Follow Resource Nation on Facebook and Twitter, too!