From financial institutions to retail outlets, technology is changing the way businesses operate and is bettering the company for its customers. Especially in the retail industry, technology makes it possible for a machine to perform tasks repeatedly using a standard set of instructions, thus letting humans focus on what is more important—satisfying their customers by focusing on their needs. And happier customers mean more business.
Most often, people think sophisticated systems are only for large enterprises. But, consider how these big brands get to be so big?
The big brands of today were once small retailers who embraced technology and incorporated it into their everyday production. These are businesses that recognized the potential of tech without getting drowned in its complexities to succeed.
So, if you are planning to start a retail business, here are some technology tips to stay ahead of the curve.
Invest in the Right PLM Software
Presently, retailers face a multitude of challenges from supplier compliance to order quantity and timely product delivery through their supply chain. The common reasons for all these issues are the lack of operational efficiency and the ability to respond to retail market trends faster.
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is a single source for managing all aspects of your business from initial purchase to sourcing. An effective retail PLM solution will help retailers with real-time visibility into retail sourcing and supply chain functions. This, in turn, enables planning of tasks, shifting resources, identifying milestones and due dates, and pinpointing areas requiring attention.
Thus, finding the right product lifecycle management software company will drive improvements to gross margins, higher product quality, and reduce cycle times, leading your retail business to succeed.
Automate Your Inventory System
Automating your inventory eliminates the risk of over-ordering and under-buying. The automation of your inventory system will analyze the store’s sales history to come up with the ideal stock levels for each item. You can also modify certain variables in the system, for instance, according to the season – and the system will refer to the past sales pattern to calculate when you need to re-order.
The system also comes with a feature where you can perform ‘open to buy’ calculations that tell you how much to spend on a particular category for maximum returns. Additional insights you can gain from automating your inventory include:
- How much should you invest in inventory every month?
- How to keep merchandise flowing into the store throughout the season.
- What are your best-selling stores, and who are your best sales staff?
- How much inventory you require to keep up with the expected sales.
- Which items are ‘hot’ and which are not, and their respective manufacturers?
Buy the Best Point of Sale System
Until the invention of the remote point of sale (POS), customers had to stand in long lines to buy their merchandise. However, thanks to technology, customers now have the privilege to check out from in-store handheld computers, scanners, and printers. This has immensely helped improve customer satisfaction and sales, as 86 percent of customers tend to leave without purchasing due to a long line.
Furthermore, contactless payments make the payment process even more accessible, eliminating the involvement of passwords or PINs and allowing the customers to purchase from their smartphone or also watch. The faster a transaction is, the higher the sales will be in your store.
Make Sure to Continuously Audit Your Prices
Just like with inventory management, price auditing is a time-consuming and costly process for businesses, but not with technology. Price auditing is essential for companies to make sure that they aren’t overcharging or undercharging their customers.
Thanks to the technological advancements, the price auditing process can be fully streamlined by automating price checks whenever you scan a product. This results in accurate pricing and saves the store employees’ time, allowing them more time to create better trust between the customers and the store.
Opt for Buy Online, Pick up In-Store
Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) is the perfect way for retailers to drive in-store foot traffic, and connect their offline and online experiences. BOPIS is the practice of allowing shoppers to browse and buy items online and then later pick up their purchase from the store.
Some of the most significant benefits of incorporating BOPIS into your omnichannel order fulfillment strategy include decreasing the cost of shipping, increasing choices for consumers, and increasing the impulse to buy opportunities.
By implementing a BOPIS strategy, retailers can cut down the cost of last-minute shipping as the customer is picking up their product. It also helps retailers meet the demands and appeals of different types of shoppers without alienating anyone. Also, getting your customers to purchase additional products through upselling or advertisements becomes more manageable once they are at the store to pick their purchase.
Use Automated Checkout and Kiosks
Integrating an automated checkout system or kiosk into your retail business comes with a lot of benefits. Perhaps the biggest of them all would be the speed with which customers can pay for their purchases. Rather than having to deal with the long lines, customers can ring the items up and quickly pay for it.
Automated checkouts take up less space, and multiple kiosks can fit into a comparatively smaller area. For instance, in some cases, around six kiosks can be placed in the same amount of space as a traditional checkout area. This also means lower overhead costs, especially during slow times when few customers are checking out.
Use Apps, Social Media, and Online Platforms to Reach Customers
There is no denying the importance of social media for your business. You can use your social media platforms to share content fast, effectively, and in real-time. Nevertheless, one of the greatest mistakes retailers commit is opening accounts on social media platforms and then leaving it alone with no activity. Social media users find it a turn off to see retailers who open accounts and don’t engage with clients.
In 2019, around 2.95 billion people are using social media worldwide, and it is expected to increase to almost 3.43 billion in 2023. Ignoring social media is typically handling customers to your competitors. Thus, if you want to succeed and stay in business, you need to adopt social media.
Another important feature, retailers should consider here is visual search. Though visual search has been around for a few years, retailers have only recently used them as a tool to boost their customer experience.
Visual search is looking for a product with a photo or image instead of keywords. Shoppers can then take a picture of something they wish to buy and upload it in the visual search engine to see the similar items available for purchase.
For retailers, visual search means a shortened path from search to conversion. When searching with a picture or image, your customers don’t have to choose the right keywords or surf through hundreds of almost-there search engine results.
The Only Constant is Change
As technology continues to change industries, retail companies need to stay up-to-date with the top technology trends and utilize the available technology. Because technology makes your job easier, it also keeps your customers happier, and your business more accurate. Even better, it is saving your business time and money.