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How to Improve Your Bottom-Line Retail Results with Technology

By Jennifer Gregory, Contributor | July 06, 2021

There are more ways to improve store performance than with a single focus on increasing sales. The tech you use can make a significant impact across your business by driving out inefficiencies that no longer fit your immediate or future needs.

Decreasing costs and improving productivity go a long way toward getting the bottom line results you want. Especially when you drive sales in coordination with business efficiency improvements.

Relatively small tech investments can help you streamline your business, improve margins, and increase customer satisfaction. Here are five ways you can improve your results.  

1. Manage Pricing to Gain a New Competitive Edge

Independent retailers often compete on price with big box stores and Amazon. To gain an edge, local retailers are increasingly using data analytics to understand where to adjust prices.

“If a customer needs a toilet, for example, the cost doesn’t factor as much as other products because a broken toilet needs to be fixed," says Steve Loosle, senior manager, solution engineer for Epicor for Retail. “Customers are more likely to research prices on products like BBQ grills or patio furniture, which means you must be more competitive on these items."

Dynamic promotions in retail systems can help you identify which products to mark up or mark down. This technology analyzes margins and customer patterns, as well as competitor pricing, to create recommendations for both sale and regular prices. Dynamic systems also consider increased product demand. Independent retailers often have more pricing flexibility so predictive data capabilities can help you gain an edge in the marketplace on different product categories.

2. Get Full Visibility into Your Inventory

Having the right products in stock at the right time is critical to your success. You need to have the ability to fully understand what’s happening with your existing inventory as well as manage demand.

Loosle says inventory management systems do more than count products. They predict future needs and project how long new inventory takes to arrive. The technology also accounts for upcoming sales and advertisements, weather, and a number of other internal and external factors.

“Instead of walking the aisles looking for empty pegs and shelves while trying to remember what sells fast, automate this critical task and rely on your system to know when you’re likely sell out of an item and how long it takes to get it back into inventory,” Loosle explains. Keep your fast-selling items moving.  

3. Empower Employees with More Sophisticated Tools

High staff turnover in retail is incredibly expensive. There's a big opportunity to cut your costs by using more intuitive, user friendly technology. Some business solutions even have built in artificial intelligence that shows users how to do tasks. These smart workflows can spot where a user is within a process and provide the guidance they need to complete transactions.

“When employees get stuck in a new task, like adding a customer coupon, built in guided learning walks them through how to add it," explains Loosle. He says this kind of AI-informed, in-process support saves employees frustration, improves efficiency, and can offer higher quality service for customers, too.

4. Build a Consistent Experience In-Store and Online

Mobile devices are the hub of multiple applications like social sites with shopping ads, online banking, and digital wallets. It couldn’t be easier to shop from your device. “As app usage continues to grow, it will be a major contributor to sales growth, especially with Millennials and Gen Zers holding massive spending power,” Business Insider reports.

If shoppers are increasingly online, you need to be, too.

If shoppers are increasingly online, you need to be, too. And similar experiences across brick and click are what consumers desire. Creating and integrating the experience across your retail ecosystem is also much easier and more affordable than it was just a few years ago.

Technology enables omnichannel without putting additional burdens on owner-operators and senior managers. Loosle says retailers who leverage these tools can also better anticipate customer needs and provide seamless, loyalty-building experiences.

5. Focus on Payment Processing Efficiency and Costs

Many independent retailers struggle with credit card fees that eat into margins, especially as more customers move to cashless, contactless payment solutions. Smart payment processing systems that have their own payment exchanges, such as Epicor, often give retailers the ability to save more money than the cost of a processing system itself.

Loosle says that retailers who stay with an established payment vendor without carefully examining costs compared to potential savings are likely to have significantly higher expenses. It's important to look for a payments processor that helps you minimize fees and streamline performance.

Adapt for the Future and Drive Results

More and more retailers are adopting technologies that improve both their efficiency and customer experience. Those who put it off will increasingly fall behind competitors. As we saw over the last year, retailers who had or added technology with more capabilities were able to quickly react and adapt to changes driven by the need to do business from a safe distance. Invest in smarter technology to adapt your business to new expectations and better capabilities to meet the future of retail head-on.

Learn more now about how technology can help improve your reach—and your results.

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