Retailers can use technology to improve business in tough times

What follows is the text of an article I was asked to write for an industry magazine last month.  I have adjusted it to be more general and offer it here as it speaks to how to use our retail management software to help retailers weather tough times:

Smart technology can help independent retailers turn tough retail conditions into success without spending thousands of dollars on advertising. Leveraging your existing customers you may find more gold in your own backyard that you imagined. Using good software, you can expect to:

  • Cut costs. Thanks to electronic invoicing, the cost of processing new stock is lower than with manual processes. This can help cut your labour bill.
  • Increase sales #1: reward customers. A good loyalty program works. Not like FlyBys which is of dubious financial value to customers. No, a serious loyalty program which guides your customers to spend more money with you. I have see stores grow sales by 10% on the back of a well constructed loyalty program, a POS software package will run this for you, points and all.
  • Increase sales #2: easy lay-by. Lay-by run properly and using technology can be highly profitable. The software can manage the rules and ensure that your shop operates as professionally as a national retailer. You set your own rules and the software manages the paperwork.
  • Increase sales: market to your customers. A coupon on your receipts, an email newsletter, a printed newsletter or up-sell script at the sales counter for staff – these are all ways you can use your point of sale system to help guide your existing customers to spend more money with you.
  • Increase sales #5. Connect with a local charity. Use your POS software to make it easy for a local charity to promote your shop and raise money for themselves at the same time. Each sale earned for you by the charity can be tracked so that you are able to reward them with an accurate donation at the end of the campaign.
  • Make better business decisions. By buying only stock which works for you or seeing exactly what customers buy with what you are able to make business decisions which are more likely to drive better business results.
  • Sell your own gift cards. If a customer cannot find what they want in your shop you could sell them a professional looking gift card with a unique barcode allocated to that card. This way they money they put on the card is used in your business.
  • Cut mistakes. Mistakes in retail can be expensive. By using smart POS software you can expect to cut mistakes. This is because it takes fewer keystrokes per sale. This reduces the opportunity for mistakes.
  • Cut theft. The last time I checked, theft in retail in Australia was running at between 3% and 5% of turnover. Thanks to tight controls around employees and better tracking of stock theft, you can expect to cut the cost of theft. Every $1 cut in theft is a $1 on your bottom line.
  • Handle special orders. Using software you can place orders for specific customers. The software can even sent a text message to the customer’s mobile phone when their special order comes if. Talk about customer service!

The most important way you can grow your business in a tough marketplace is doing what you probably do best – providing cheerful and knowledgeable customer service. You can do this and your employees can do this if you hand over some of your administrative tasks to your retail management software. As a successful gift shop owner told me about her interaction with her business: floor time = profit.

While computers are not for everyone, well made POS software is doing well in Australia, more so this year than in 2008. This is because retailers want good outcomes.  We deliver that.

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