Customers have dismissed street flea markets as havens for the hipster generation for way too long. They would much rather buy from a branded retailer than from a street store with no returns, no guarantees, and no brand. In spite of these apparent shortcomings, small retailers are doing fairly well for themselves. While people still turn to malls and brands for several of their requirements, they still buy home essentials, groceries, and fresh produce from the smaller stores and farmer’s markets.
Small retailers have a lot going on for them. For one, they’re perceived as being trustworthy. Several people visit these stores not just for the products in question, but for the experience of shopping at a place where your name is remembered, your kids are acknowledged, and your requests are met.
Perhaps the best way for these small retailers to stabilize themselves is to use these positive reference points. With technology, expansion and wider reach is a possibility, but how do you ensure that the same warmth in customer interaction reflects across multiple channels and stores? In other words, how can you be a mom-and-pop store with a global outreach?
Technology enables a situation wherein a machine performs tasks that can be executed repeatedly with a standard set of instructions without getting tired, thus letting the human mind function and focus on what is more important.
Especially in retail, technology gives you the platform to better satisfy your customers by helping you concentrate on their needs. And happier customers mean more business.
Small and medium businesses are said to be the most vital part of the economy of any nation.
“Oh, I’m all about small business. I think what we’ve learned from big business and big Wall Street is that unchecked greed and the creation of false value gets us all in trouble. If we look at the American economy, who’s really creating value? It’s the small businesses.”
If small retailers are the backbone of the economy, why do most of them ignore the potential to grow faster with technology? Everyone seems to think that a sophisticated system is only for the large enterprises and that it’s something they don’t need. But step into a mall and look at all these big brands. How did they get to being so big? Surely, they couldn’t all have started out that way?
This is where the role of technology comes in. Those with the foresight to understand the potential of tech without getting lost in its complexities have indeed been able to grow faster and bigger. Here’s how technology can help you grow without compromising on what sets you apart.
Retaining Warmth In Interactions
Consider a customer at a retail store who is waiting at the counter for billing. The clerk at the counter scans through the items at the POS (Point of Sale) and generates the final bill.
Now, from this practice, what the retailer gets is data about the customer. Data pertains to the type and number of products the particular customer purchased. An accumulation of this kind of information enables the retailer to have an understanding of the pattern of inventory flow.
Why not take it a step further? As in the case of one of our clients, using the same software to collect and save data about revisiting customers has helped the store staff recall names and birthdays even when they expanded through the country. Simply by adding a small custom note next to the customer’s name and phone number, you can recall everything from their workplace to what their kids are called.
Integrated technology in retail is the best way to stay on top of your business, even if it runs across multiple geographical locations. As a small retailer, your aims would be stabilization, positive cash flow and expansion in that order. Using technology can provide stability- especially in the retail context where stock outs can mean lost business, you can manage your inventory flow effectively and be recognized as ‘that shop that always has the stuff you need’.
Coming to expansion, should you choose to jump on the online retail bandwagon, using technology to keep track of orders and shipping is the most efficient way of knowing everything you need to know about sales.
Better Integration And Communication
Using technology in retail, it is now possible to control all of your business operations from a single dedicated system or even from multiple systems across locations. Imagine the amount of time a seller would be able to save with this practice. With an increase in the number of stores or/and increase in the inventory, gathering information and managing it becomes tough. By using the same retail software across stores and channels, your inventory is now in one place from where you can keep an eye on it.
Keeping It Real
Perhaps your greatest fear of adopting technology is that it may one day grow to replace you. However, that is certainly not the true purpose of it. Technology is meant to give you a helping hand of sorts, so you won’t have to break your head over complex calculations and procedures. The decision-making process is still entirely in your hands.
Since this is the case, you are never going to have to compromise on the values that you built the business on. Along with the hospitality and camaraderie of a store selling homemade soaps, you are now offering the comfort of faster checkouts and better inventory control. So when you have a small store in a mall, you’re not essentially competing with the bigger brands for price- you’re competing with them by matching their technological advantage while also setting yourself apart with your products that are unique, made with great care and most importantly, full of warmth.
The Final Verdict
In an extremely competitive world, adopting technology is perhaps not so much a convenience as a requisite. It is like one of those products that comes cheaper off-season, making us debate its use. But when winter comes along, you know you need that room heater. There are very few retailers who see the benefit of using technology early on, but there’s no better time than now.
Primaseller believes in providing solid yet simple technology for your growth as a retailer. Our software platform lets you manage inventory and orders across all stores and channels from a single dedicated panel. Selling on online channels like Amazon, eBay, Shopify, and Magento is also ridiculously simplified. Would you like a quick demo?