Retail is a broad term that encompasses any business that sells goods or commodities directly to consumers—from conglomerates like Wal-Mart or Nordstrom to your local liquor store, sock shop, or favorite restaurant.
If your business falls under the retail umbrella, online resource centers and blogs are a great way to find actionable advice that can keep you ahead of the curve. But there are ton of options out there and some are better than others.
To save you time, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite sites. Check out our list below and we guarantee you’ll discover better ways to start, run or grow your retail business!
Shopify is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms for retail businesses to build their business through an online store front. But did you know they have an enormous resources section? Not only do they have a blog that they update every business day, but they host their own podcast, and offer 20+ tools for retail businesses. Here are a few of the notable items in Shopify’s resource section:
- Tools: everything from a pay stub generator, terms and conditions generator, to purchase order and shipping label templates.
- Ecommerce University discussion forum: business owners regularly post discussion topics, feedback requests, and questions about marketing, accounting, manufacturing, and more. This forum is a great way to get your questions answered from business owners who have been through similar situations, and build your own network within the the larger Shopify network.
- Encyclopedia: read a term and not sure what it means? This is a great place to find out.
- Podcasts: Shopify puts out two different podcasts: the Shopify Masters podcast is hosted weekly and features interviews with successful business owners, while The Essential Podcast for Ambitious Entrepreneurs is hosted every other week to bring inspirational stories as well as advice and wisdom from entrepreneurs.
Vend is a POS system for retailers. In addition to their blog, they have a beautifully designed resource center featuring guidebooks, webinars, retail trends, how-to’s, and more. Their content seems useful to almost every retailer, for example here’s a guide showcasing 10 Key Performance Indicators Every Retailer Should Track, or a webinar on how to turn lookers into buyers during the holidays.
Vend customers are offered “Vend U courses” on demand, including advice on setting up your store, expanding your customer base, and ringing up more sales.
One engaging part of Vend U that I love playing around with was this nifty Retail Tips Generator. Sift through a few of these tips and I’m sure you’ll find something you aren’t yet doing in your store but probably should try.
Town Square is the name of popular mobile payment company Square, Inc’s blog. Although the blog is not specifically for retailers, much of Square’s user base are retailers, thus they are the target audience of most of their “tips, advice, and news.”
They have a number of categories you can browse through, including: accounting and finance tips, marketing and growth tips, how to keep your customers happy, etc. One of the coolest categories is their data insights, which mostly consist of Square’s analysis of their own customer base, that give data-backed tips on how to best run your business.
For example, one of their recent insights analyzed data from Square’s email marketing platform to determine which type of marketing emails generate the most opens.
The NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, advocating for both larger department stores and specialty stores as well as local Main Street retailers. They conduct research, provide seminars to members, host trade shows, and have a number of webinars, white papers, and yearly industry reports. Most of their content is member only.
Amongst a wide variety of resources, here are two kick ass features:
- The Retail Insights Center, which contains pages of data gathered on the retail industry.
- A Retail Library, featuring a number of different white papers, many of which are member-generated, on various topics such as The Impact of Mobile Marketing on Retailer Sales, or a monthly economic review of the retail industry environment.
Bob Phibbs is known as “The Retail Doc,” he offers both online and in person training for retailers looking to grow their business. He also writes frequently on his blog. His posts are engaging, his clever voice always shines through, and each post is actionable. The subject matter ranges from retail sales, customer service, marketing, management and more. Although the bulk of his resources (training, consulting, etc.) are paid services, his blog is great for retailers searching for quick tips (which you can narrow down via the 20+ individual topics on the right rail of the blog).
Credit and Financing Advice for Retailers from Nav
Credit and finance are areas of business ownership that can be particularly tricky. Retailers have to find that constant balance of maintaining positive cash flow while fronting the cost of inventory and production—a full-time job in itself that you’re probably juggling amongst your other responsibilities as a business owner.
The Nav resource center and blog could be your one stop shop for business financing and advice on all things credit. We offer tips on how to improve your personal credit, how to build your business credit (yes, it exists) as well as tools such as financing cost calculators, and a 100-page ebook dedicated to helping you finance your business.
That’s a wrap, folks! If we missed an online resource for retailers that you use and believe other business owners should know about, please share with us in the comments!
This article was originally written on March 22, 2016 and updated on November 2, 2016.