Why streamline the way you run your retail operations?
Tales of pandemic lockdown include many furloughed workers catching up on long-overdue DIY tasks around the house. However, this is not so amongst the 200,000 + UK retailers who, if they have been doing any DIY, will most likely have been reconfiguring their shops to cope with hand gel dispensers, social distancing markers and queue management.
Mind you, the chance to welcome customers through the doors would be a fine thing with very few opportunities thus far. Faced with minimal to zero footfall, overhauling and streamlining retail management systems would seem like a good idea – especially the website, your internet shop window.
Online sales and eCommerce Software: blessing or curse?
Some retailers still have not seen fit to invest in a website and add an eCommerce arm to their bricks and mortar store. That may be because they have already set up an eBay store. Not a bad idea when you think eBay UK gets 25 million visits a month, and it only costs £300 per year for the storefront functionality. Supplementing this with a Google My Business profile and promoting your offer on social media can deliver a good return on a minimal investment.
For retailers with bigger needs, there are many solutions on offer from out-of-the-box self deploy options to complex and customised enterprise-level eCommerce platforms. There is no doubt that making decisions about software platforms can be challenging when limited knowledge and expertise meet the avalanche of information and offers from vendors. But it is worth persevering, seeking advice and plotting a path to get the right solutions in place?
The myth of seamless integration
One word of caution is to beware of the claim that integrations between different software solutions are seamless. Once you are on the path of using business software, it becomes clear that no one system will meet your business’s needs. It’s impossible because the needs of a business are diverse.
Finance and accounting have different needs to stock keeping and warehousing. In-store and online checkouts require different data sets and processes to manage VAT and export records. Integrations are a necessary reality, but there is a “seam”, and it can come apart just when you don’t want it to.
Why a unified approach?
As tech solutions continuously evolve and improve on what went before, things we used to have to put up with no longer stand in our way. One of these improvements is the unified approach to combining enterprise-level eCommerce, POS and a suite of essential retail management functionality. This new approach, made possible by cloud computing and SaaS, is a golden opportunity to streamline your operations.
The unified approach is a single coherent software system supporting online and offline customer transactions using one single data source. It solves the problem of “seamless” integrations that come apart. It delivers real-time information to store staff and customer services on stock availability. It provides opportunities to automate stock replenishment, introduce customer loyalty programs and turn customers into repeat purchasers and champions for your brand.
The jargon to describe this happy state is Omnichannel retail – where you meet your customers wherever they want to shop with you – instore and online – and they get a unified and connected offer from you.
Picking the right vendor
Once you know what’s possible from the software, be sure to pick your supplier carefully. The one that’s right for you will meet your price point, listen to and fulfil the needs you have now and next year. When people start coming through the doors again they’ll be grateful you didn’t paint the bathroom and instead streamlined your retail operations.