Today, digital customers are the biggest influencers and frequent buyers of any product you sell online or offline. With the emerging trends of online shopping and consumers using digital devices, the chances of retail sales conversion have also increased exponentially.
All these growth factors have led to the need for productivity boosting whether for managing your retail inventories and accounting, upselling new products, maintaining customer relationships or automating promotional activities.
Productivity tools, therefore, are important to operating any online retail business. Businesses that use automation tools are more likely to reach targeted customers early and often. They can give personalized attention to their customers’ wishlists and increase customer loyalty for repeat business.
If you are not utilizing retail technologies to your business’s benefit, you may be missing out on big savings, both on your time and money. Here are the top five productivity tools that will help you grow online retail sales.
Point of Sale (POS) Software
Good POS software can be the biggest time saver and money maker for your retail business. It tracks all your inventories, sales, cash, customer accounts, as well as manages returns, refunds and store credits. You may even engage in customer data analysis, run customer loyalty programs, automate a bookkeeping system and send automated purchase orders to your vendors using a POS software system. This saves countless hours of doing manual and laborious tasks which a machine can do better than a person does.
An online POS system helps you manage online and offline stores in a single place in the cloud. It works on any device — iPad, Mac or your PC. This means you can run multiple stores at a time sitting in the comfort of your home or get real-time updates on your store activity while traveling.
POS is undoubtedly a retail productivity-boosting tool. It can largely impact your sales operations and increase profit margin, provided you are aware of the must-have POS software capabilities.
Remember, once you have invested in a POS system, it is expensive to change it. So, take your time, conduct some research and choose the one that surpasses your expectations.
Ecommerce Websites/Shopping Carts
If business websites can sell concepts of a product, they should sell the product too. Ecommerce websites can do both, for e.g., promoting your retail business online as well as generating revenue by selling items directly from your website. You can add products to your online store in a few clicks. Customize your site theme and your retail store can be open 24/7.
Ecommerce websites use shopping cart software to handle financial transactions and order processing. Customers can place orders and pay you right from the website using any device of their choice. A good shopping cart software comes with a bundle of shopping and marketing features, including back office and security functions.
Read this shopping cart software review or check this list of 45 standalone shopping carts for ecommerce to know how they can add value to your website.
Once set up, you can link to your ecommerce website from business cards, newspaper advertisements and posters. This is an opportunity to share your business ideas with others and increase sales volume. You may also place online ads and get traffic to your ecommerce site over the Internet. The major advantage of running an ecommerce site is that there is no limit to using it for churning sales figure. The better you do it, the more you get.
Integrating your ecommerce site with POS software is another way to add to your productivity level. You can track all ecommerce functionalities like managing products, inventory and marketing. You can also generate reports and analytics from your POS system. Most of the modern ecommerce software has built-in integration support for POS.
Retail Accounting Software
Accounting is the backbone of a retail operation. If you can do it better, all yourself, you save as well as make a lot of money. Today, with retail accounting software in operation, more and more retailers manage their accounts in-house. There are many benefits to it. You can generate financial statements quickly as well as track account performance anytime, from any place.
Popular accounting software has the Accounts Receivable module, Accounts Payable module, and General Ledger module integrated which keeps you worry-free and helps you make independent financial decisions.
You may even connect your accounting software to a POS system and build an integrated accounting solution. For instance, when you create invoices using POS software, it automatically updates the inventory quantity in the inventory database. This record, in turn, should update customer history, accounts receivables and sales history in an accounting tool. Without integration, inventory, accounts receivables, and sales history databases will remain out of date, making the POS software almost useless.
Not every POS system links to accounting software packages. Some have a built-in accounting system. Some provide integration support. It is better to ask your POS vendor and know the way the integrated system will work for you.
There are a variety of user-friendly retail accounting software programs on the market. Each suits a different store type and performs a number of accounting functions. A comparison sheet will help you understand the capabilities, ratings and price of retail accounting software.
CRM Software to Grow Online Retail Sales
CRM tools, as we all know, are the key to maintaining healthy business relationships with customers. These tools not only drive customer loyalty programs but also help you identify potential business prospects and earn new business. A good CRM software is able to track your customer details, locate market opportunities, and pave the way to communicate with your customers through email, phone or trade shows.
CRM data and its basic analysis helps your sales staff to differentiate between VIP and casual customers, enabling you to make decisions about discounts, pricing pattern and rewards for existing or upcoming product lines. Your employees know who they can call and how to satisfy their specific requirements or preferences. Here are a few tips for choosing the right CRM software for your business.
Online CRM software also comes as an integrated solution with POS systems. If you have been using a stand-alone system for CRM and maintaining a separate POS and inventory management system, it is time to look for an umbrella solution — everything connected together, built into a single retail solution.
Retail Marketing Automation Tool
Marketing automation is the major category of retail solutions that most businesses try to excel in. Whether it is harnessing new customers or retaining old customers, marketing automation tools can boost sales with personally targeted advertisements. You can perform brand building activities using various communication channels and techniques, thus shortening your sales cycle.
A good retail marketing automation platform helps you take the advantage of 360 degree marketing activities, including email auto-response, email marketing, SMS marketing, live chat, Facebook and Twitter automation, landing page building, Web tracking, voice broadcasting, IP checking, Fax marketing as well as customer relationship management.
Read this article to find a comprehensive list of marketing automation software tools and apps. You will know the key features of popular retail marketing automation tools and their costs.
Using productivity tools for retail operations is always advantageous. But tools alone can’t make your business a success unless you know future retail trends and tips. So, keep exploring the awesomeness of online retail tools, and give “New Shopper Experience” to your customers. Happy retailing!
Tool Bench Photo via Shutterstock
Every one of these 5 areas is a huge decision with tons of different options. I can safely recommend Infusionsoft for SMBs needing a CRM, but it has lots of other features as well. Overall, my advice is that whichever tool you choose, getting it set up right and using it diligently will make or break your experience. Even the best tool will suck if it’s set up poorly and you use it sporadically.