Retailers are going through a tough time. Last week, Macy’s missed its estimates and reported its fifth consecutive decline in revenues. Kohl’s and JC Penney saw declines in their stock prices and Nordstrom suffered a profit drop. Both Walmart and Target are expected to show similar disappointing results when they release their earnings this coming week.
But the question is what about the small merchants? How are they doing? The good news is they are different from these stores, they are lissom and less bureaucratic&hence can make decisions quicker and act faster. Regardless of how those big-box Retailers fare, there are plenty of great technologies available in the market not only to increase productivity in your store but expand your customer base and your profits. Here are just three technologies that will help you do this.
Mobile point of sale
Take a look at Ravel, Shopify, Shopkeep, Imonggo and others. This is the future of shopping industry. Mobile Point Of Sale (POS) systems work on iPads and tablets to replace your cash register. They enable your employees to come out from behind the checkout counter and interact with your customers. POS systems integrate data with your website if you’ve got an ecommerce store (and you better have an ecommerce store too!). A good mobile POS system can not only take orders but manage your inventory, alerting you when new items need to be ordered& much more. It can also recommend new items based on purchase pattern of customer.
Your mobile POS system will, of course, accept both credit and mobile payments on the go because it integrates with all the major applications, from PayPal to Apple Pay, that do this. It will notify you about metricsbest and worst selling items, highest margin items, turnover, and most popular times of sale.
Look at Clover, Belly, FiveStars, Perka and there are others here too. Once a customer comes into your store the goal is to keep him or her coming back. And in 2016 a great way to do this is through loyalty programs. These are mobile apps which your customers will have to download and sign in. But once they do you can deliver to them coupons and points or discounts based on their visits or (more importantly) their history of purchases is going to be with you. You can find out what they like buying and offer similar products. You can enable them to engage with you on social media and capture their data for your customer relationship management system.
Most importantly, keep an eye on those services, like Clover and Belly who are “beacon-enabled” because you’ll want your customers recognized the minute they walk into your store with a customized greeting and specific offerings delivered right to their smartphones. Your customers want to feel special and, short of buying them each a puppy, a good loyalty program will help you to do this.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Take a look at Insightly, ZohoCRM, Salesforce and GoldMine. Let’s say you order sushi very often from a local Japanese restaurant and every time you call them they recognize you in advance and know what your order might be beforeyou mention anything. You may receive goodies from them on occasion like Christmas Halloween etc. That’s because they have a customer relationship management (CRM) system. They capture contact data for every customer who gives it to them by joining their “VIP” club or who offers it when requested. They integrate it with their phone system.
But they primarily use it to engage and expand their community by delivering communications–emails, post cards, and many more to their customers with offers, tips and special announcements to keep them close. CRM systems will integrate with mobile point of sale and loyalty applications. And they will build value in your retail shop because they will make sure that every customer or prospect who walks in the door will continue to receive helpful information from you to entice them back another day. That’s because it’s not just about the sale. It’s about the repeat sale. Which is why very great business invests in CRM regardless of their size or their industry.
They can invest in the kinds of technologies that these stores aren’t using very well, if at all. You can do this because you’re smaller, more nimble, and–c’mon, let’s admit, smarter than those guys!