Over the last two quarters we’ve talked about the new paradigm in retail, which has given consumers more choices and information than ever before. Retailers can take action by offering advanced customer services, providing more responsive and proactive staff, up-selling, and developing e-commerce options. Product sales can be boosted by streamlining and automating the day-to-day operations that can sap your time and energy. We emphasized the importance of a customer loyalty or rewards program and mentioned ways to eliminate slow movers while expanding the breadth of offerings to reach your niche market. Finally, we encouraged store owners to map out a concrete plan for growing the business.
This quarter, we’ll focus on what may be the most critical part of implementing a plan to take advantage of this paradigm shift: embracing technology.
Making the most of technology has been a common thread throughout this series. In previous installments, we’ve discussed the following sure-fire methods to leverage technology to improve the customer experience and, ultimately, your bottom line:
- Provide fast checkout, historical lookups, no-receipt returns, custom promotions, and preferential treatment for your best customers.
- Embrace e-commerce to bring additional buying options to your customers without a significant capital investment.
- Implement a customer rewards or frequent shopper program to give customers a sense of belonging while increasing ROI. These programs also allow you to better target your marketing dollars and meet customer needs more effectively.
Add in-store marketing
Enhance the shopping experience by incorporating multi-media presentations at the store’s entrance, at checkout, and on end-caps. It’s been proven that this type of elective “in-your-face” marketing really works.
Automate tasks to focus on selling
Technology, specifically point-of-sale software, can enhance the customer shopping experience in a number of important ways. Back-end store operations like ordering, receiving, price updating and margin control can be automated, allowing retailers to spend more time connecting with customers. Faster checkout, purchase history lookups, automated receipt and statement emailing, and integrated loyalty rewards programs keep customers coming back.
Leverage data to streamline inventory management
The right point-of-sale solution can deliver comparative revenue reports with daily, weekly, or monthly statistics, year-over-year. Slow mover, employee productivity and end-of-day till reconciliation reports are a few clicks away. Inventory ordering and receiving can be an automated process that enables electronic communication with the store’s main supplier(s).
Maximize your point-of-sale investment
If you’re simply using your point-of-sale software for the checkout line and to run a few reports, you’re likely not getting the most out of it. Your POS solution should be performing the lion’s share of time-consuming tasks like inventory and margin management, ordering and supplier interactions, integration with financial systems, credit card PCI compliance, and much more.
The bottom line
It is important for retailers to know and understand their business, their customers, and their growth path, regardless of what they’re selling. The best way to embrace this new paradigm shift in retailing is to remember that the customer is still, and will always be, king.
Charles Owen is a Business Alliance Executive with Paladin. Drawing from his 30 years of experience in retail sales, he recently shared a presentation on the paradigm shift in retailing and how store owners can take advantage of it to improve retail operations, profits, and customer loyalty. A link to his full presentation is available on our website at http://info.paladinpos.com/Orgill_SeminarFeb2014.pdf.