If you’re looking to take your business to the next level in 2018, January is the time to get your operations sorted.
Putting the right technology in place is critical to streamlining your business processes and providing a better experience for your employees and customers. Having software that helps you work more efficiently also means you’re left with more time to focus on value and growth.
Here are nine retail technology tools you should invest in this year:
1. Mobile-optimised website
These days, no one has patience for a website that’s not optimised for mobile. If yours doesn’t work seamlessly on all devices it’s likely you’re losing customers. It should be as simple as possible for customers to browse items, add them to the cart, and then check out on their mobile devices.
2. Business intelligence and analytics tools
Smart small businesses will heavily rely on data and analytics to make important decisions about everything from marketing strategies to staffing. Adopting great analytics tools that can integrate with your payment transaction data will deliver valuable insights—things like historical sales reports, your busiest times of the day, and how many new or returning customers you’re bringing in.
3. Inventory management software
As omnichannel retail becomes the expected norm, a seamless experience between online and bricks-and-mortar stores is essential. To accomplish this, you need robust inventory management software.
Look for a platform that can help sync in-store and online inventory in real-time, reducing merchandising blunders.
4. Employee management software
Keeping track of your staff member’s schedules on a paper calendar is needlessly messy and complicated. Get employee management software that lets you manage schedules, track time and set permissions straight from your mobile device, making everyone’s lives easier.
5. Contactless card and mobile payments reader
The data is undeniable, Australians are carrying less cash in their wallets and they top up their funds at an ATM less than once a week. Plus almost everyone has contactless cards, which means you need a point-of-sale that can accept them instantly wherever you are.
Having a low-cost mobile credit and debit card reader on hand provides a simple and convenient way for customers to settle their bills immediately, without worrying about cash. And for business owners who are always on the go or managing staff, a mobile point-of-sale solution is a smart and affordable way to scale operations.
6. Integrated accounting software
Streamlining your front-of-house operations is important for servicing your customers more efficiently, but getting the back-end sorted will help you save time and run your business smarter. Integrating your point-of-sale with cloud-based accounting software means your transaction data flows seamlessly between platforms, reducing the need for manual data entry and improving accuracy.
7. CRM (customer relationship management) software
A robust CRM—one that integrates with email marketing software that slices and dices your lists—is now a must-have. That’s because consumers are tired of mass-blasted messages and prefer more personalised, curated content.
8. Remote working tools
Offering the ability to work remotely not only helps with recruiting and retaining top talent; studies show it actually improves team productivity. In 2018, integrate technologies that make it easy for employees to manage their job from anywhere.
9. Free Wi-Fi
Wherever you are, it’s really frustrating when pages take ages to load. And if you’re a cafe or coffee shop, or even a retail store, not offering internet could be a deterrent for regular customers (it’s now a criteria that’s searchable on most review sites, after all). So invest in free Wi-Fi this year. To mitigate the problem of people hunkering down for hours without buying anything, you can add signs that politely ask customers to purchase items for online access, routinely change the Wi-Fi password, or employ a time limit on usage.
Ben Pfisterer is the country manager at Square Australia.