Software can help or hurt your business, depending on how you leverage it. Sometimes business owners can be overwhelmed by technology and are too afraid to implement solutions that would, after the initial learning curve, make their work easier.
If you find yourself unsure of where to begin with technology, use these as your starting point. You’ll quickly see how much time you can save and how much more accurately you perform regular tasks.
Automate Your Email Marketing
You may be using email marketing, but if you’re creating new emails every week or two, you’re not letting automation work for you. You can use your email marketing software to create automated campaigns. A web site visitor subscribes to your emails on your site, and that triggers a series of emails that will be sent to her on whatever schedule you set up.
But do they work? They sure do: more than 75% of revenue generated from email marketing comes from automated triggered campaigns. Pay attention to which offers saw the most clicks or redemption and customize future campaigns accordingly. Also, notice when you see a high unsubscribe rate; you may need to change the cadence of the emails so that you don’t bombard people with your automated emails too frequently.
Make Your Customers Fiercely Loyal
If you’re still using an old punch card loyalty program, it’s time to step up your game. Today’s tech-savvy customers want digital loyalty programs: 73% of consumers are more likely to join a loyalty program if it’s tied to their mobile wallet.
The great thing about digital loyalty programs is that you get great insights into what your regular customers are buying. From the customer’s perspective, she’s happy because you can use that data to customize the offers you send her. A shopper who has purchased jewelry on her last three transactions with your retail brand will be stoked if you send a 20% off of necklaces coupon just for her.
Make Inventory Management Failsafe
Any retail business owner knows the pain that inventory can be, especially if you do it manually. But here’s another way technology can save time and make your business better: inventory management software simplifies the inventory process by connecting to your point-of-sale system so that whenever an item is purchased, it is removed from your inventory numbers.
You also can set threshold numbers so that you are alerted whenever you dip below that number of products, and have plenty of time to reorder before you run out.
If you’re in retail, you know that shrinkage is part of the game, particularly if you’re in fashion and accessories, which has the highest shrinkage rates. Technology can help reduce theft; RFID is now commonly used as a theft deterrent, mainly because each item you tag has its own unique ID, making it easier to track (did the coat get stolen or just misplaced in the stock room?).
Keep Your Data Safe
Just as important as protecting products from walking out of your store is protecting your sensitive digital data. That means your customers’ credit card details, your financials and anything else a hacker might be interested in.
This area requires both technology and smart practices. A firewall and antivirus software can do much in protecting you against viruses and hacks. But also, you and your retail team need to use strong passwords (regularly changed) for any sensitive data you access. And as soon as an employee quits, you should revoke his access to your system.
Make Scheduling Simpler
Another task many retail businesses still perform analog is scheduling employees for their shifts. If you’re using paper and your desk is littered with Post-It notes with requests for time off, know that there is an easier way to manage scheduling.
Scheduling tools and apps not only make it easier for you to view all schedule requests at once so you can decide who works when, but you can also cut down on the time you spend answering calls from your staff asking when they work; you simply text or email everyone their schedules.
Technology is a friend, not a foe. Yes, it may take some time for you to adjust to incorporating one or more of these tools into your workflow, but once you do, you’ll be amazed at how much time you save and how much better your business operates. Just try one endeavor at a time so you can measure any improvement in results and give your staff time to learn new software. Once you’ve mastered it, move on to the next!
Matt Hardoon is the Director of Sales at MarketMan, a cloud-based restaurant inventory management and purchasing solution. With 15 years’ experience, Hardoon is passionate about helping restaurants, franchises and hospitality companies grow by gaining a better understanding of their businesses and improving efficiency in how they interact with their supply and vendors. Connect with him on LinkedIn.