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Retailers won't succeed without technology

EntrepreneurCountry Global Monday, 01 October 2012.

Technology is all around us – our phones, laptops, games consoles and even our TVs can now connect us wirelessly to the web to enable us to socialise, search and, most importantly, shop.

Businesses also depend on technology, to provide data and information about key performance measures and to provide key accounting information that is then submitted, often via online systems, to complete annual returns, vat returns, year end and tax returns.

Small businesses, and in particularly retailers, have often avoided technology, some fearful of their perceived lack of ability to use it, others concerned about cost. The thing is, in this day and age small businesses can’t effectively and efficiently run a business, let alone a data hungry business like a retail brand, without technology. Think of all these tasks:

  • Stock take
  • Ordering product or consumables
  • Transacting and recording sales, both in store and online
  • Accounting and book keeping
  • Running a customer loyalty scheme and delivering customer communications
  • Business analysis and forward planning

ALL of these can be made simpler, more accurate and quicker with effective use of technology. Systems that automate processes and give us rapid access to data exactly when we need it enable us, as business owners, to be more responsive to consumer demands and more able to make quality decisions with confidence.

When I work with retailers one of the very first things I ask is if they have an EPOS system. For me to be able to help them develop robust and repeatable processes and systems, enabling them to become a scalable, saleable business, I need to know what access to key business data they have got. I consider a quality EPOS tool to be an enabler of success; however what I often discover is that my clients have EPOS but are using only a fraction of its capability. This is so frustrating because often the retailer has no idea of the potential at their fingertips and may even be negative toward technology, calling EPOS an expensive cash register. It drives me mad!

Technology is awesome; it means that at the touch of a button you can know everything you need to know about your business performance. If you have an EPOS and you’re not getting value from it then you should be, if you’ve not got EPOS yet it’s about time you brought your business up to date! Here’s what you CAN do with a great EPOS system:

1. Capture customer details, analyse who spends most, most frequently – you can then target them, and people like them, increasing your engagement with your most ideal, most profitable customer group

2. Analyse category performance, unit sales, margins and sell-through rates to determine which products earn the right to occupy space in your store and which are simply not paying their way!

3. Review hourly, daily and weekly sales performance and trends – knowing which hours, days and which periods are busiest you can more effectively plan staffing to ensure you maximise the opportunity when people want to buy from you

And much, much more...!

So, to sum up, my advice is to get up to speed with technology and to make sure you’re extracting all the “juice” from it that you can – don’t be afraid of it, the fact is ANYTHING that helps you to understand the ins and outs of your business performance, to make quality decisions, and to be more profitable is definitely worth investing in!

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