In most parts of the world, retail businesses are finding it harder to make a profit. People are cutting back on how much they are spending. A recent survey conducted by Motley Fool found that 38% of Americans were planning to spend less. This is bad news for retailers who are at the same time seeing the cost of their overheads soar.
Unsurprisingly, in this trading environment, many business owners are reticent about spending more of their hard-won profits on modern technology. But it is those that do so that are the most likely to survive and thrive in the current climate.
They are the retailers that will end up working the most efficiently, which means that their profit margins will be the highest. Opening up the opportunity for them to cut their prices just that bit more than their competitors. Given the fact that value for money is now the main factor that people consider when deciding who to buy from, being the most efficient business is now critical for success.
But you have to buy the right tech and introduce it in the right way. That is what this article is all about.
A taste of the benefits the right technology can provide
Before we dive into how to decide what type of tech to invest in, let’s look at what is available:
· Digital point of sales technology – This technology opens up the opportunity to repurpose old tablets or iPads and use them as tills (POIs)
· Stock control software – The right POI program can be linked to your stock control system, so that when something is sold it is immediately re-ordered. Or, if you prefer, flagged up so that someone can manually look at the sales history for that product and other factors to decide whether to order them. Always having what consumers want available while ensuring you never have more money than necessary tied up in stock is extremely good for business.
· Digital screens – For decades, these screens have been essential tools for retailers. They are used to carry out many backroom functions. Retailers are increasingly using advertising and promotions that are displayed on digital window signage and electronic sandwich boards to tempt passers-by into their stores. They are also replacing posters with electronic versions. As well as deploying touch screens that enable customers to get their questions answered or return goods without the need to speak to a member of staff.
How to be sure the new tech will be cost-effective
The above is just a taste of what is available and as you can see deploying these technologies in your store(s) has the potential to be beneficial. But it is still important to crunch the numbers to make sure that investing in them really is viable for your particular business.
You need to calculate the ROI. Use this article to help you to do that. Remember to factor in the cost of running and maintaining the equipment. As well as any training that your staff may need.
Ways to make investing in tech easier financially
If you like the look of a particular technology but do not yet have the cash available to put it in place, do not give up on the idea. Instead, look at ways to spread the cost. You could get an equipment loan or lease what you need instead of buying it outright.
In some places, businesses club together to buy things at a discount. The fact that they are buying as a group gives them the bargaining power to be able to save money.
Becoming a beta tester is another way to reduce costs. Most companies like to test their tech in real-life settings, using beta testers, before making it more widely available. When you are willing to provide them with in-depth feedback and access to your data, usually, they will not charge you anything for the equipment.
Invest time in keeping up with innovation
The world of retail is in a constant state of flux. So is the technology that is available to retailers. As a result, you must keep up. You do not want to give your competitors an edge by being the last one to adopt a technology that can help you to work more efficiently.
Regularly review what is available and assess whether adopting an innovation will benefit your business or not. You should also revisit any technologies that you have previously rejected. There is a good chance that the price will have fallen, or that the way your business has evolved will mean that the savings are high enough to make adopting it cost-effective.