Starting a small business is a dream for many people looking to break away from the traditional 9:00-5:00 job structure. There are plenty of advantages to starting your own business, such as being your own boss, the sense of accomplishment that goes with successfully starting a small business, and the knowledge that you’re fulfilling needs for your customers. Of course, new entrepreneurs also face a great deal of challenges, and starting your own business is likely to be among the most difficult things you’ve ever done.
If you’re up for the challenge, however, then starting a retail business will also be one of the most rewarding things you’ve ever accomplished. Whether you’re thinking about setting up a brick-and-mortar retail shop, or you’re looking into going with an eCommerce platform like Shopify, you’ll have a hard time without taking advantage of modern technology. This is a world of big data and digital transformations, after all, and you’ll need to play along if you hope to be a success. Here are just three of the most important tech solutions for your new retail business.
1. Demand Forecasting
Put simply, demand forecasting is the use of historical sales data to make predictions about future demand for products and services. These methods became popular during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the rapid changes in customer behavior, and they’re here to stay. Thanks to advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence, forecasting methods have been improved through the ability to analyze larger data sets at one time, identify previously hidden data patterns, and adapt to changes in real-time to produce more accurate forecasts.
A good data analytics solution even gives you the ability to apply forecasting across your entire business. With a combination of historical data and current data, you can use predictive analytics for everything from anticipating market trends to predicting when your equipment will need maintenance.
2. POS System
Retail point of sale software is crucial, regardless of whether you’re an in-person shop with cashiers or an eCommerce retailer taking online orders. A POS solution makes it easy to automatically apply any number of discounts, specials, and credits in one simple transaction. It can also connect with your inventory management software, so you’ll get up-to-date alerts whenever stocks are running low.
Traditionally, a retail POS system comes with a computer, monitor, cash drawer, customer display, barcode scanner, and receipt printer. The best POS systems will also include a credit card and debit card scanner, and you can even set up a contactless payment or mobile payment options like Apple Pay and Google Pay. Simple installers for POS systems mean that you can get a system up and running within minutes, and you can even take advantage of a free trial with a sample inventory, so you can see exactly why your store needs a retail point of sale system.
3. Customer Relationship Management
A reliable CRM system is a must for any business. No one is more important to you than your customers, after all, and providing them with exceptional customer service and support is one of the best ways that you can inspire customer loyalty and stand out from your competitors. A modern CRM solution makes it easy for customer support agents to take customer calls from anywhere, which is great, considering the growing popularity of remote work since COVID-19. Customers will also be able to use convenient digital channels, such as text, SMS, webchat, or even a mobile app to contact your agents.
Even better, you can easily collect and analyze customer data to determine who your best customers are. You can then use this customer information to reward your best customers with a loyalty program or come up with more effective promotions. The more you take advantage of modern tools in your retail store, the more likely you’ll be to succeed.