Retail software is an important purchase for any small business running a retail store. Selecting the right retail software can make your business more efficient, increase sales, and improve customer satisfaction. Whilst picking the wrong software can have just the opposite effect. Slowing processes down, limiting the number of sales you can make, and causing your customers (and your staff) to become frustrated. So what factors are important to consider when selecting your retail software?
On-premise or in the cloud?
You can choose to either host the software yourself on your premises or access your software via an Internet browser (in the cloud). The advantage of having it on the site is that if something goes wrong with the software, you can have immediate access to it to fix it yourself. This, however, requires that you have a certain amount of technological know-how as you will need to
be able to perform any repairs yourself or hire someone to do it for you. When you buy software that is on the premise, you normally pay an upfront fee with the option to pay for ongoing support if you so choose. Additionally, you will have to buy hardware, such as a server, for the software to run on and a system for backing up your data in case of hardware failure. The onus will be on you to both secure and maintain your entire system and pay for and perform any upgrades of the software that are required.
Choosing web-based software means signing up to a SaaS (software as a service) model. This requires you to pay every month rather than the large upfront costs associated with on-premise software. Cloud software eliminates the need to purchase hardware, secure your systems, run backups, or perform upgrades. The software company will do this for you. You are, however, reliant on a good Internet connection to be able to access your systems, so if you opt for this solution, you must budget for a high-quality Internet package.
Inventory, accounts, and CRM.
When selecting your retail software is essential that you work out how the different areas of your business will share data. The key systems you will need to receive data about the products you are selling are your inventory (what products have been sold, and how many you have left to sell), your accounts (how much did you sell your products for, and how much profit have you made) and your CRM (who did you sell the products too, and can you encourage them to buy from you again). If all these systems are working in harmony, your business will be much more efficient, and you will start making more sales.
Ideally, you want these three systems to work together; integrating separate packages can be costly, so buying a pre-integrated or all-in-one solution makes sense. Integrated retail software removes the need for you to transfer data between multiple software systems that may not necessarily be programmed in the same format.
This will save you a lot of time and will also mean that all your systems are updated in real-time rather than waiting for you to do a data synchronization for them to update. So you, or your staff, won’t have to stay late anymore doing stock takes or updating an account, and it’s all done for you as it happens.
Your staff is the people who will need to use the retail software to make sales. Make sure that you bear them in mind when you are making the selection. Think about what will make their job easier. If your staff are happy, they will provide better service, which will make your customers happy, which should ultimately result in more sales and higher customer satisfaction.
Would it suit them better to have portable tablets so they can make sales around the store? Would it be easier if there were multiple bills to serve from so they aren’t constantly waiting for others to finish serving? Would giving them access to the stock levels in the warehouse make their lives easier? Speak to your staff members and work out what would really benefit them to choose the software that best fits their needs.
Although remember what suits your business too, make sure that you can limit the amount of access your staff has to your back-end systems. You may want to let them see stock levels, but it’s unlikely you would want them nosing around your accounts. Select retail software that works for you both.
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