Category Archives: Retail

  • Retail CRM

    Retail CRM – Knowing Your Customer Better

    Why You Need to Know Your Customers Better:

    Today, retail businesses have a lot of competition. Not only are there brick and mortar storefronts, but they also have online shopping outlets to deal with. While it may seem that sites such as Amazon are impersonal because they do not actually interact with someone face to face, there is one thing that they do that really knows how to bring people in: they know their customers.

    Customer Relationship Management, or CRM in retail, are strategies that businesses use to manage and analyze customer interactions and information. The goal of this is to help improve the relationship with customers, and bring them back in time and time again. Retail software is available to assist with CRM by collecting this data and providing reports that a retail business owner can do.

    What does it mean to know your customers?

    If you want to start practicing CRM in retail, you need to start doing things to build strong relationships with your customers. One way you can do that is to find ways to personalize your customer’s experience. Just look at Amazon; they have gone to great lengths to give people a customized experience. Not only do they provide wish lists, they also give recommendations based on recent searches and provide emails that list products of interest. Even though the process is automated, it still makes a person feel as if they are truly listening to their needs.

    If you want to have the same type of customer retention, it would be best to try an implement strategies that allow you to get to know your customers better. If you are not sure of how to do that, you can always look to a CRM software for help.

    What can CRM software do for you?

    Retail software can help you collect data that helps you build that unique customer experience by automating the tasks you use to interact with your customers. In layman’s terms, CRM software keeps track of the people who work for you and the people who you sell to. It assigns and converts leads, keeps track of orders and produces invoices and develops a knowledge base that allow you to run campaigns. By analyzing the type of information that comes through on, you can get insights on the things that your customers want from you, and then use that to build a better experience.

    CRM in retail is key, especially if you want to build your retention rates. While you can build a strategy on your own, you can automate many of the tasks by using a CRM software.

  • Dashboards for Business Intelligence

    Dashboards & Business Intelligence usage in Retail Organizations

    Better Intelligence = Better Business: Great Retail Dashboards:

    In the modern retail landscape, there are more paths to success than simply keeping prices down. Business intelligence — the science of collecting, analyzing, and using data from all aspects of your organization — can give you powerful insights into how your retail company really works. Software tools like digital dashboards allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of your organization and make wise decisions quickly.

    Dashboards Defined:

    A digital dashboard is a powerful management tool that collects vitally important information and presents it all in a compact, easy-to-use format. Dashboards are a crucial piece of business intelligence software in the retail sector, as they allow you to quickly observe the current flow of your organization. Dashboards must necessarily update their information in real time – or close to it.

    The software that you use to organize and update your dashboards needs to be highly flexible (see below). When they’re designed and used correctly, dashboards can be invaluable decision-making tools. Conversely, a poorly-implemented dashboard can be useless or even deceptive.

    Building an Integrated System

    Some retail companies rely on integrated business intelligence software that can manage all aspects of retail information. This is rarely a suitable solution for larger businesses, though. It’s likely that different departments in your company use different tools to best accomplish their goals. Fortunately, most modern retail software is designed with the intention to work with a wide range of other software suites. This is usually accomplished via API (Application Programming Interface) compatibility. APIs allow data to flow from one piece of software to another in a useful, automated format.

    For example, your POS software routinely tracks the details of every sale your company makes. If that information never leaves the POS software, it’s virtually useless to other parts of your organization. If POS data is output through a standardized API, though, it can be seamlessly picked up by all sorts of other software — including your dashboard programs.

    Buying Flexible Tools

    As noted above, dashboards are only useful when they’ve been properly designed for your specific needs. This means you need retail software with a great degree of flexibility. Care must be taken to preserve simplicity, though. The most flexible software suites are often the most unintuitive. Striking a balance between open-ended and easy-to-use software is one of the biggest challenges in retail IT.

    When it comes to dashboards, the software tools which are easiest to use typically constrain your options. If you want to build a truly customized dashboard, the assistance of IT professionals is usually required. This adds a layer of complexity to the implementation process — it means you can’t use your business intelligence software right out of the box — but it’s invaluable for building truly effective tools.

    In the end, software for business intelligence is all about speeding up the kind of in-depth analysis that used to require weeks of consultation to achieve. With the right software tools, you can put powerful real-time insights about your business at your fingertips. Dashboards are just one of the many business intelligence tools available to you.

  • Retail CRM

    Retail CRM – Are there any Cheap Alternative out there?

    Customer relationship management software has helped manage customer interaction since the 1980s. Most sales teams, however, only use a portion of CRM’s capability. With costs ranging from $50 to $500 per user each month, you wonder if it’s affordable for startups and small businesses.

    Choosing CRM software

    Regardless of business size, when your library of customers has become burdensome, CRM software for retail might be a wise choice. It helps managing clients and sales, or even online marketing. Better customer service is an important aspect of getting more customers. Today’s CRMs offer many levels of service via different approaches.

    When looking at retail software solutions, you have to weigh such factors as scalability, difficulty of implementation, and available support, Consider the vendor’s experience in your area of business, and itemize what specific goals you have and the tools you need. But the first issue is always your costs.

    Free Software

    Free CRM system software comes in two options – free, but limited, and open source. Limited versions are essentially trial packages that set limits on the amount of users, storage, features, or other capabilities. You can upgrade later, usually for a fee.

    Open source software means fully functional CRM retail software . The drawback is that most of these open source companies don’t offer installation or support, so you may need someone to take a leadership role in installing, configuring, and training. Some of these companies do offer support – often for additional fees.

    Either way, if you can find the right CRM system software to fit your resources, free is preferable to investing in one of the enterprise products out there.

    Budget the Options

    There are affordable versions available for under $25 per user per year, which is a huge savings. Find retail software that’s easy to use and implement. The last thing you want is to purchase something that’s going to require time to learn, or worse, that employees won’t use.

    Gauge the investment relative to the value you’ll get from it. Look for CRM software for retail offering a small business version. But there should be room for future growth. What staff and hardware will you need to implement it? You may prefer something you install on your own servers, or something cloud-based you can access over the Internet.

    CRM retail software has the reputation of being too technical for people who need to focus on customers. This may be true especially for owners of smaller businesses who don’t have the IT resources to install and customize programs properly. That doesn’t mean you should give up on benefits that it can bring. A little detective work will uncover cheaper and simpler alternatives that meet your needs.

  • IOT in Retail

    IOT in Retail – How will It Change the Future of Shopping?

    The rise of Internet on Things IOT, in the retail business, has led to many game changing efforts to create opportunities in various industry domain and create the new company model. Information technology has revolutionized the retail industry, starting with e-commerce software development propositions and now The Internet on Things. Physical devices are increasingly interconnecting as well as creating a thriving and intelligent network of data and technology, which is referred to as Internet of Things. It has been projected that by 2020, a data network will interconnect more than 50 billion devices.

    Customer demand for product availability, convenience, and both contextualized and personalized interaction will drive business owners to adopt The Internet on Things. In the retail business, IOT and Retail Software covers a broad spectrum that includes product tracking, customer engagement, and interactive operation, an efficient service such as hyper-local message targeting, shoppers intelligence, mobile payment, inventory management, and asset management. This article provides an incursion of how Internet on Things IOT will change the future of shopping.

    Efficiency operations that can be inferred from The Internet on Things devices that collect data and present it as real time information in an actionable and meaningful ways. Connected devise from Point of Sale (POS) and cameras to beacons and readers can help to drive better and easier shopping experience to shoppers. In a retail environment, the smart screen can provide customers with more information depending on w what they are looking at, this influence shopper’s decision positively.

    Internet of Things can be used to trigger content based on multiple contributing factors such as underperforming stock that are running out of assets, environmental conditions, time of the day, online trending and other potential variables.

    Retail mangers can also merchandise and markets their products based on buying and shopping patterns inferred from online search trends and browsing, loyalty programs, Bluetooth low energy beacons. These networks are married to the dedicated or partner-shopping app, which through heat maps generates consumer’s moves around the stores.

    Internet of Things also offer the opportunity to engage and connect with customers through shopping channels, retailers can easily connect with potential clients and gather purchasing intentions and preferences from The Internet on Things channels. Besides this, they can be used to plan, measure; excuse marketing campaigns and bring your marketing vision to life. Through various retail Software, a retailer can engage potential customers with personalized campaigns, build the pipeline, and display the impact of marketing effort.

    In the modern world, customers are living in the interconnected world, and they are often well informed even before they enter a store to make a purchase. Since customers are shopping on their terms, it is critical for retailers to find ways through which they can do to provide better and extraordinally shopping experience. This call for excellent customer service such as POS when it comes to providing that service through dynamic e-commerce software development and valuable customer service based IOT.

  • maps-local-search

    Multi Store Management Software – What You Must Look Before Choosing the Best Suitable Solution

    In today’s, global retail environment, retail business and customers are increasingly powered by digital technology and multiple channels that are available right at their fingers tips. Today, success comes from connecting with customers. The explosion of increased connectivity brings along an overwhelming wave of information and data.

    More importantly, when business involves multiple locations; Multi Store Management Software can help you to achieve what is considered to be “bird eye view.” Point of Sale (POS) can be designed for users with several retail stores, such that you can manage the server in your premise headquarters and establish virtue access that accommodates other locations.

    Multi Store Management Software should offer retail solutions that accommodate all goods and services you sell and include the ability to add or remove products from sales menu or even update pricing at different locations from POS terminal. It should also treat customers appropriately based on where they shop. This is because it can structure membership management from different stores in accordance with performance; this can help in tailoring promotions uniquely.

    Moreover, Multi Store Management Software can enable users to stay on top of inventory from afar, since these retail Software’s have the capability to be managed by mobile devices that use wireless network and can later be plugged into the computer for download. Regardless of where you are located, managing inventory across multiple sites with Multi-Store Management Software becomes a piece of cake. This article provides an incursion of factors to be considered before choosing Multi Store Management Software.

    Features:

    Every retail type business is characterized by different features from another. Some retail Software’s are unique to a particular type of industries while others suit a range of retails business structures. For example, a retail store may require software with different features from a cafe. Retail owners are needed to determine the most important features and look for technology solutions that suit them e.g. tracking batches, taxes, and may be iPad compatibility.

    Set-up cost and hardware compatibility:

    Setting up technology solutions can be a costly process, users may need to consider both hardware and software requirement. Hardware requirement for retail solutions may include receipt printer, cash drawer, barcode scanner, and credit card terminal. In addition, software compatibility with hardware is fundamental. The retail software should also be evaluated concerning, if it is a physical or cloud software, if its price changes with the number of terminals connected, and licensing fee, including reoccurring fee.

    Usability:

    In a retail environment, Retail Software’s usability is crucial. Retail solutions should be easy to use, such that users can carry out processes like sales, returns, and quotes without having to refer to the user manual or making mistakes that can compromise the integrity of sales data.

    Reporting:

    Making right decisions requires right information, this makes reporting in a retail environment to be crucial. Retail solutions should be able to track products, branch, sales by rep, and even customers. Information inferred from retail technology solutions can be used to generate more sales.

    Integration with the third party Softwares:

    When choosing retail solutions, there is more to consider other than the retail software itself. For example, retail technology solutions should be able to integrate with accounting software thus reducing the margin for error and double data entry. In addition, integration can help orders to be centrally managed, while maintaining accurate stock figures.

  • Taking offline retail to online

    From Offline to Online Retail – Step by Step Guide to Transition

    Congratulations on making a wise business decision. It might be a bit intimidating at first to imagine taking your company online. You may not be sure where to start. Take a deep breath and figure out first how you will market your products online. Obtaining a domain name and creating a website is probably one of the most important things you will do to establish your company’s presence on the Internet. Before you do this, you definitely need to analyze your current operations by asking the following questions:

    1) What part of your business can be done online?
    2) How are the customers obtaining your products now?
    3) What shipping procedures do you have in place now?
    4) How are you tracking customer sales and repeat customers?

    Once you answered those questions, you need to draw up a plan that will enhance your online presence so potential customers can reach you.

    Step One: Know Your Current Operations and Status

    You’re probably already analyzed the potential benefits of going online with your business. It is definitely good to go over these benefits and decide if you are going to open up your own online store or piggyback on a known site to see if your product sells well online.

    Step Two: Decide What Products You Want to Sell Online and Have A Way to Ship Them Quickly

    An important component to retail e-commerce development is to have an understanding what products sell better online compared to products that don’t sell as well online. You need to also understand how your products will be shipped. Quick and efficient delivery wins customers.

    Step Three: Decide on Images and Content for Your Website

    Content is king, but images are important too. Your company’s reputation is on the line. Present a poor impression online and your reputation is toast. This is an important element in retail e-commerce development.

    Step Four: Getting to the Nuts and Bolts of Your Online Presence

    Laying a good foundation is essential to your business. To efficiently run an ecommerce store, you need the right e-commerce software. Decide now to build a website that has a stable domain name, a good platform and unique web designs that will boost your web traffic. The right e-commerce software can help you analyze your target audience, understand your products’ selling points and help you drive sales.

  • Group of Business People Meeting About Teamwork

    Retail CRM – Knowing the Customer Patterns and Making Informed Decisions

    Online retail requires IT solutions that go above and beyond expectations of business models and processes. There are various software solutions that help businesses manage their leads. When a business obtains a lead, those leads are prospects. It is essential for management to understand the requirements of analyzing consumer behavior and how to use that data to turn prospects into actual clients or subscribers.

    When it comes to CRM, businesses must know the why, what, how, when, and where of the buying patterns in clients and consumers. Understanding consumer behavior, especially online, requires a comprehensive CRM that yields useful data by revealing customer patterns. It succeeds when it helps executives and management make informed decisions. Consumer behavior is defined by the actions involved in purchasing decisions revolving around services and goods as well as the disposal of those services and goods.

    Consumer behaviors always have a degree of variables that are unknown and unpredictable due to the sporadic behavior based on real emotions and rationale for buying goods and services. It is human nature to be volatile, and selfish sometimes. All people are consumers, and every day goods and services are bought. Not all consumers have the same tastes, and if they did, they have different reasons for those tastes. Most people adapt, adopt, and change their buying patterns every day.

    For instance, one day one person might buy one type of toothpaste brand, and another time, the same person might buy a different brand. Some people will stick to one brand that they prefer, and they may prefer it because it was what they were raised with or it might be what their friends recommended. There is one thing that all consumers have in common, and that is the fact that they fit in a certain demographic that allows businesses to target relative audiences.

    What the appropriate measures, marketing executives and business managers can understand nuances of what differentiates their business services or products in order to understand their client’s needs. Once the consumers are sorted out, a strategic develops a niche that helps consolidate their target marketing efforts in order to solidify consumer relations. This is essential in gaining an edge and competitive advantage that lets marketing staff determine what makes consumers react to the environment which they are exposed. The adage, “They do not care how much you know until they know how much you care,” rings true. With the right software, businesses can automate their marketing processes into a turnkey solution that obtains and retains customers.

  • SolutionWordPuzzle

    Retail IT Leaders – Must have software solutions for your business

    The Must-Have Software Solutions For Retailers 

    Today, the expansion of the Internet has increased the pace of global commerce in startling ways. Around the world, retailers encounter new challenges as a result of this situation. If your company expects to remain competitive in this dynamic market, you require some basic software solutions in your IT investment mix. Don’t overlook these must-have products when you plan for your retail software IT needs:

    1. Security Software

    The ever-changing landscape of viruses, malware, trojans, phishing scams, spam and other threats to website security pose a potential hazard for any business enterprise which maintains an online presence. Although some Cloud Management providers offer comprehensive security for cloud-based applications, companies still need to consider this issue carefully. Even with excellent protection for databases in the cloud, it usually makes sense to secure individual computers within a company, too. Malicious software programs and thefts online can damage a retail reputation and result in costly claims.

    2. E-Commerce Software

    Companies today require E-Commerce software that enables seamless automated online sales. The type of product you select will likely depend upon the size of your enterprise and the fulfillment procedures you maintain. Just as a single shoe size won’t fit every customer, enterprise E-Commerce software packages deserve careful evaluation. A startup with a limited budget will likely not possess the same needs as a well-recognized retailer with an established chain of B2B vendors. However, some excellent software programs today assist retailers in adding ECommerce sales to existing revenue platforms. E-Commerce software includes both tailored and custom-designed versions.

    3. CRM Software

    As the Internet has grown in importance, the variety of excellent Customer Relationship Management programs has kept pace with this expansion. Today, retail outlets can locate some exceptional packages targeted towards their particular marketing needs and preferred promotional strategies. Some companies also obtain customized CRM programs. Just as most retailers now depend upon online sales as a source of revenue, in addition to in-store business, the intelligent use of CRM marketing programs may help enhance your company’s bottom line.

    4. Retail Mobile Apps

    Companies seeking IT solutions need to consider the growing importance of retail mobile apps. The expansion of beacon technology has increased the availability of very sophisticated commercial metrics programs. Developing customized, tailored mobile apps to furnish information to in-store consumers who carry mobile devices may boost store revenues. Many of these programs work well for promoting online retail services, too.

    5. Social Media Integration Software

    Today, even retailers may benefit by maintaining smoothly functioning databases to track sales metrics and promotional campaigns. Using software programs to help integrate social media and SEO campaigns with these programs offer many enterprises an opportunity to take the best advantage of low-cost Internet marketing techniques. Many of these programs work seamlessly with compatible CRM software. Outsourcing to ensure excellent integration with legacy systems may prove helpful in some cases.

    6. ERP Software

    ERP integrates every business automation need required to operate a business of any size in a single platform. With some large players like Microsoft, SAP, Oracle playing in the space, there is a wide variety of software available that can be tailored to any enterprise need and can be installed at multiple locations. ERP software of modern times can cover all business processes ranging from end point of sales, inventory management, supplier management, commerce integration to order processing. Once your business scales up, this is the most essential and complex piece of software you must look to implement helping you control things efficiently.

    7. POS Solution

    Retailers today are trying to achieve an omni-channel approach where their consumers should be able to have a similar experience irrespective of the platform they use for purchasing the goods. It is hence more essential that those old cash registers must become compliant to organization wide Point of Sales (POS) approach of the business. Choice of this software solution is very critical and may break or make your business’ ability to interact with the consumers. It is highly recommended to use an experienced IT solutions provider to choose from plethora of options available in this space.

  • POS-Solutions

    What a retailer must look into before finalizing a POS solution?

    Retailers: Here’s What You Need to Know Before Finalizing a POS Solution 
    Point-of-sale (POS) devices and software enable a business to conduct business. While the basic requirements for a POS may be to conduct transactions, they can and should do more than that. A POS should become a vital part of your business strategy. It should enhance your day-to-day operations while helping you to conduct significantly more business than you could any other way.

    The innate problem with POS solutions is that they are not created equal. Some offer more features, while other offer too many. This can make that final decision concerning what POS to purchase into one of the most difficult ones you might ever make.

    Let’s explore some of the must-have qualities your POS might need to have before you finalize your choice.

    1. Your POS System Should align with How Your Business Works

    The first trait you should look for in a POS solution is the fact that it aligns with the way your business currently operates. It should be designed to be implemented with minimal training.

    This isn’t to say that a POS cannot offer advanced features. If your business needs these features, then it should allow them to be used optionally.

    The thing to understand is that your POS solution should only be as complicated as it needs to be for your employees and customers to interact with it.

    2. Appropriateness for your Industry

    Different POS software can be designed to be used with different industries. There are very few solutions designed to be used everywhere due to the specifics that various industries require.

    Retail POS systems, for example, should include:

    • The ability to enter custom discounts and coupons. Gift cards and other promotions should be included in this.
    • Support for product-specific details like color and weight.
    • Customer invoices for service like warranty work.
    • An implementation of a customer loyalty program. This can be in the form of rewards or discounts.

    To contrast this, hospitality industries such as restaurants need a POS that can:

    • Allow for multiple check payments.
    • Integrate some form of floor seating charts and assigned servers.
    • Produce multiple receipts for separate parties.
    • Track inventory based on ordered menu items.

    3. Is It Reliable?

    Reliability is the key when it comes to POS. Unreliable systems make for lost sales, which means that you earn less than you should.

    Ensure that your POS can communicate over the Internet for maximum reliability. Seldom should a reliable POS solution be “cut off” when it uses the Internet.

    A connection via the Internet will also help foster e-commerce sales and the like. This allows your POS to expand your ability to profit.

    Stability is another factor in the reliability of a POS. Crashes do happen, but they should be limited to less than one time per day. This becomes especially important when you have to rely upon your POS to get customers in and out of your store during busy seasons like the holidays.

    Is Your POS Solution Right For You?

    If you have even one doubt about your POS solution, then it may not be the right one for you. The wrong solution puts your sales and business at risk.

    Expert IT Consulting companies like OTS can provide you with IT solutions, retail software and POS software that meshes with the needs of your business.  OTS will help your business succeed from a technology standpoint, be that with online retail or in a more conventional sense while tying in e-commerce.

    Technology can push your business forward when you use it properly. When you’re ready to see what technology can do to increase your sales and minimize your hassles, contact us.

  • local-seo-multi-locations

    Retail Software – Keeping all your multiple locations synched

    Businesses with multiple locations have special considerations that single-site software can’t address. Companies that have an online retail presence have further additional challenges that come from managing an e-commerce store. The following reasons should help you understand the importance of finding the right multi location retail software for your company.

    Centralized Reporting

    When all your retail locations sync to either a central location or the Cloud, you can view your entire business at a glance. Most reporting functions allow you to begin with an overview of company-wide sales performance and then drill down to see location-specific data. Without centralized reporting, you only see the performance of each store.

    Uniform Pricing

    By managing prices globally, you avoid the complications that arise from having different prices at every store, and you save time. Rather than have staff at every location entering and updating prices, you can have one person do it for your entire company, avoiding the frustrations that develop when your stores compete against each other.

    Inventory Management

    When you have a global view of inventories, you can efficiently use your resources to move inventory between stores before reordering. When the time comes to order merchandise, the software lets you order for all your stores at once, saving time and allowing the use of your purchasing power to buy at lower prices. You can also use global reporting to optimize your merchandise mix at the local level, so stores that don’t sell much of an individual item can free their space for better-performing merchandise.

    Organizational Troubleshooting

    When you have a multi-location software package, you can easily compare the performance of your retail locations. You can quickly identify your retail locations that need attention. You can either improve or close stores that drag your company, so you can focus on the areas of your business that generate the most profits.

    Online Integration

    Many retail businesses have realized they need an online presence to take advantage of modern savvy shoppers. Many companies choose to operate their virtual storefronts as separate companies because they don’t have the software that manages multiple locations.

    When you have software that supports centralized inventory management, you can avoid the expense of maintaining a separate stock room by drawing from the same goods that stock your stores. Also, the same person who prices merchandise for your brick-and-mortar stores can easily manage online pricing by configuring a separate price structure.

    Now that you know some of the benefits of multi location retail software, rather than struggling with software not intended for businesses with multiple locations, you should consider either outsourcing your IT solutions or finding software solutions that meet the needs of your business that you can manage in-house.

  • mshopping_1960x980

    Retail – How a well thought mobile app strategy helps modern retailers

    Retailers: Use A Careful Mobile App Strategy 
    Today a well thought out mobile app strategy enables retailers to compete more successfully for both in-store and online revenues. These useful tools promise to help some brick-and-mortar companies reverse years of gradual losses to ECommercecompetitors. How do Mobile Apps enter into modern retail marketing? What features should these software applications include? What strategies should businesses employ in implementing them more effectively?

    A New Retail Landscape

    Every year, an increasing number of shoppers head to malls and grocery stores carrying sophisticated mobile devices. A growing segment of these consumers use their iOs Apps, Android Apps, Windows Apps and more to seek out bargains. They may visit stores specifically to find certain products stocked there that they have identified via an Internet search. Additionally, a rising percentage of outlets today use wireless beacon technology to draw visitors into the store and promote products known to interest them. Visitors may gravitate to items offering coupon discounts or special promotions, for instance. Retailers who fail to take advantage of these technological innovations risk losing market shares to more aggressive, technically-savvy competitors.

    Custom Design Mobile Apps

    By seeking custom-designed retail apps, often developed with the assistance of IT Consultants, retailers obtain the ability to tap into this attractive Mobile ECommercemarketplace. Many larger stores already maintain 24/7 Online Retail operations. A well-designed tailored retail app helps your store complement and enhance these sales efforts. You can use Software Solutions that provide you with convenient tailored management platforms to track marketing and promotional campaigns campaigns very cost-effectively.

    Some Strategies

    Before making a significant investment in Retail Software, managers should consider consulting with knowledgeable IT professionals to fully explore all the available IT Solutions that might contribute to promotional efforts. Strategies for implementing retail apps vary widely sometimes, depending on your company’s marketplace, resources and staffing expertise. For example, some retailers hire IT consultants to manage retail applications for them, other companies perform this function completely in-house. You may wish to consult with an IT firm in order to gain a better appreciation of all of your potential options and marketing strategies. IT consulting holds value.

    A New Era in Retailing

    The popularity of Bluetooth-equipped devices, “smart” phones and wearable technology suggest that high tech Mobile Commerce will remain significant for retail stores far into the future. With so many exciting new ways to inform shoppers about sales and pertinent product information, retailers find information technology an increasingly productive way to convert store visitors into customers.

  • ecommerce-best-practices-for-small-biz

    Retail Ecommerce – Which is the right platform for you?

    Before choosing an ecommerce solution, you have to know what you need from one. 

    Retail Ecommerce – Which is the right platform for you?

    There are literally hundreds of ecommerce platforms and options available. Making a choice can seem daunting, and making the wrong choice can cost you more than money. Before finding the ecommerce solution that’s right for you, it helps to know what you need an ecommerce solution for.

    • What are you selling? Is it items, a service, or both?
    • Are your products digital or physical?
    • What’s in your inventory?
    • Do you already have a website?
    • Do you need to set up a new one
    • Is your site centered on your shopping cart?

    Answering these and other questions will help you to narrow your choices. There are ecommerce solutions that,

    • Favor one type of selling platform over others
    • Only allow for specific forms of payments
    • Work well as software or plugins to existing platforms
    • Exist as their own full-service platforms

    So look out for the ones that promise to do what you need them to do.

    The Size of Your Business

    The size of your business has a lot to do with the kinds and brands of platforms your company should consider. For example, an enterprise solution like the WebSphere Commerce Suite (WCS) is ideal for retail businesses that routinely spend several millions in operating costs.

    Such solutions come with high costs for testing and implementation. At the same time, such an expensive solution comes with far more by way of features, flexibility, and complexity.

    By contrast, a small business, startup, or single owner business can benefit from smaller options such as Zen Cart, Opencart, and various “eshops,” like Shopify. These solutions are easy to set up, and can cost as little as nothing to only a few dollars to implement. However, they lack features, and aren’t built for handling large volume business.

    Examples of high cost, high-end ecommerce solutions:

    • IBM WebSphere Commerce Suite (WCS)
    • Oracle (ATG)
    • Intershop
    • Demandware
    • SAP Hybris
    • Netsuite

    Larger businesses should look to these as examples of what they’re looking for.

    Examples of low cost ecommerce solutions:

    • Magento
    • Virtuemart
    • Drupal
    • Prestashop
    • Opencart
    • ZenCart
    • WooCommerce

    New business and businesses with low volume sales should see what these lower tier options offer.

    How Much Control Do You Want?

    Some ecommerce solutions will allow you to create a storefront from which you can sell your products or services. These hosted solutions are ideal if you don’t want to handle all the minutiae of site upkeep and backend manipulation.

    Examples of hosted ecommerce solutions:

    • Shopify
    • Volusion
    • BigCommerce

    Businesses that don’t mind hosting on third party services and at times giving away pat of earnings should see these options.

    These services also offer self-hosted and unbranded services. So they’re nice for those with a business that has potential for further growth. However, when your shopping platform is hosted on another’s service, it’s subject to another’s rules.

    Hosting your own

    On the other hand, if you host your ecommerce site yourself, you have absolute control over it. What you may not realize is that control comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility. It’s on you to keep the site updated, keep the content fresh, source images, and deal with any technical problems.

    This isn’t such a big deal when you’re working with a handful of SKUs and a narrowly defined business. It becomes a large endeavor if you’re trying to move hundreds of items.

    More importantly, you’re in charge of your own security. If you’re not familiar with how to secure a site, or you’re not familiar with things like PCI security standards, then you definitely shouldn’t go it alone.

    Managed services

    You can outsource the server and data requirements to a cloud provider, dedicated retail IT services, and IT consulting firms that offer ecommerce options. You can maintain full control of the design and function, while a third party deals with bandwidth, servers, and technical resources. These managed solutions offer you more freedom, and typically more support than commercial hosted sites.

    You can look into many ecommerce comparisons, but no matter the platform, it’s all about what you need and what you can afford. It’s about who offers quality and delivers on promises. It’s not about which service gets the highest star rating on a website.

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    Omnichannel – What is it and how is it shaping modern retail?

    “New Retail” Blends the Physical With the Digital Through Omichannel Strategies
     

    The retail landscape is swiftly shifting, and many retailers risk being swept away by the profound changes that will come to define the marketplace over the next decade. In order to compete in our increasingly globalized and digital world, retailers need to create seamless shopping experiences for their customers that permeate nearly every marketing channel. The buzzword for this new, multi-channel marketing presence is “omnichannel marketing,” and it is profoundly altering the way retailers will do business in the first half of the 21st century.

    By harnessing the power of digital technology, and tapping into the free flow of information and ideas, retailers can create omnichannel shopping experiences for their customers. But what exactly is ominichannel marketing, and how can retailers, large and small, get on the bandwagon?

    Omnichannel marketing falls under the digital concept of “New Retail,” which is a collection of strategies implemented by retailers to react to the challenges of operating in an increasingly digital world. Omichannel retail, simply put, is the blending of physical and digital retail spaces. It is a concept that allows retailers to take advantage of the strengths associated with both physical and digital retailing models.

    Through the utilization of advanced, digital tools, online retailing is upending the old, brick-and-mortar retail model. Digital retailers such as Amazon have lower fixed costs associated with their operations, allowing them to offer consumers reduced prices, compared to their physical-store competitors. Today, only 10% of retail sales are conducted online; however, the number of online shoppers is expected to explode over the coming years. Retailers who effectively harness the benefits of both physical and digital models will be most successful.

    The key to a successful omnichannel retail solution resides in advanced IT and software solutions. With the right tools, physical retailers can enhance the shopping experience of their customers by adding digital elements. Some examples of this might include “smart carts,” which can track a consumer’s behavior as they progress through a physical shopping space, or utilizing touch screens in store, so that shoppers can interact with digital information while simultaneously viewing a physical product.

    By deploying a retail infrastructure that includes advanced IT solutions, cost-effective hardware, and retail software, stores can implement omnichannel retail strategies that will allow them to outcompete those who choose a one-or-the-other approach. These solutions allow consumers to simultaneously engage with retail brands in physical stores, on websites or mobile applications, through digital catalogs, as well as through social media.

  • Back-to-the-Future-Title-Card

    Back to the Future – How Will Technology Shape Retail in Future

    Doc Brown and Marty McFly gave us some amazing insights of future and surprisingly many things actually have become a reality from the movie; I still believe they really never touched upon how would we be shopping in future. From smartphones and mobile devices to digital currencies and online payment methods, technology is rapidly changing the way we interact in our shopping experience.

    Experience Matters

    It is rightly said that in shopping, customer experience in interacting with your product or the sales person is the most important aspect that makes them buy from you. I believe that in future the emphasis will completely be on the aspect of customer experience.

    Already in today’s world, we have technologies available that can be extended to give the customers near real in-store experience when they shop online on web or through their mobile. Companies of future will try to bring virtual experience in store for some products that can be tried using holographic and VR headsets. It will not be long when you can move in a large shoe brand store and stand in front of a mirror and see the shoe style changing in your feet by tap on the mirror.

    Customer is King

    Once you are able to provide that needed customer experience with your products, it is the possibility of treating your customer in most personal way that will swing the game in your direction. We have all seen this happening already with personal touches in small shops when the owners know their customers well. Technologies of future will make the same experience possible now for any size of retail shops from small to large with multiple locations.

    Retail stores of future will automatically greet customers personally as they walk in the store. With real customer data crunching showing real-time insights to sales representatives will make them greet and act with the customer better. Consider walking in a store looking to buy stuff for your trip that you posted on Facebook or Tripadvisor and the executive offers to help you finding stuff for the trip or suggesting things as per temperature at the destination.

    Convenience

    From internet based shopping on beds or couches of your homes to now being able to shop using mobile phones and devices; retail in future will change further to provide more convenience to consumers.

    Retailers of future must think of implementing technologies that will give more convenience for customers both using internet and in the stores. Imagine walking with a shopping bag of items that you have picked through the store which get checked out of the money stored in your store wallet card automatically without standing in long queues all the time.

    Take Away

    There is no doubt that landscape of retail has changed a lot and will change more rapidly with technology changes happening everyday. Insights above on key principles of retail are just only a glimpse of what can be achieved to sell more and better.

    Many of these things are already happening or will be soon seen in near future. Being a retailer you should already start gearing up if you have not as yet taken steps in modernizing your business and processes. Missing out on the potential benefits and increased sales revenue that the latest retail technology and software solutions are able to provide can find business owners missing out on far more than they might expect. So I suggest to contact your trusted IT partners and fly back to future right away….

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    ECommerce Comparison – Selling Through Your Own Store vs Existing Marketplaces

    Is it better to sell your products through your own store or through an existing marketplace like Amazon.com, eBay.com or Etsy.com? When making this decision, it’s worthwhile to take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy.

    Advantages of Selling Through a Marketplace

    • It’s typically easier to get started selling through a marketplace than it is to start your own ECommerce store from scratch.
    • Some marketplaces do their own advertising and marketing. This creates a possibility of customers finding your store through their efforts.

    Disadvantages of Selling Through a Marketplace

    • You give up a substantial percentage of your revenue to the marketplace.
    • Many marketplaces will not allow you, or any of their third-party sellers, to market directly to customers acquired through their platform. What this means: They consider the customer to be their customer, not your customer. This limits your ability to solicit repeat purchases, and repeat purchases are essential to the success of many small businesses.
    • Your business is subject to the policies of the marketplace; you might or might not like or agree with their policies.
    • The marketplace can make changes to their policies, platform or procedures at any time. This will directly affect your business, but you will not have any say in the decisions they make.
    • The marketplace has the power to revoke your privileges to use their site at any time, and you have no control over their decisions in this regard.

    Advantages of Selling Through Your Own ECommerce Store

    • You are able to keep and allocate the revenue generated by your business; you decide which business expenses are worth paying for.
    • You are able to retain and use all the data from your business, including customers’ contact information. Thus you are free to continue marketing to existing customers within the framework of existing laws in your area.
    • You have complete control over your store policies, and you are able to change or adapt them as it suits your business needs.

    Disadvantages of Selling Through Your Own Store

    • Setting up a store is complex and requires skills that may be beyond your capability. However, this is not a long term or serious disadvantage; you can easily outsource the setup for your store in the current marketplace.
    • You are completely responsible for customer acquisitions and marketing of your business. This is also not a serious disadvantage; the truth is, even if you were to use a platform like Etsy.com or eBay.com, you would need to do substantial amounts of marketing. If you are going to spend time and money on marketing a business, it’s a good idea to spend that time and money marketing a business that you fully own and control.

    Keep in mind that you do not need to decide between creating your own store or using a third-party marketplace. You do have the option to use both strategies, and utilizing both can be advantageous for sellers.

    How to create your own online retail store

    If you decide to create your own ECommerce retail store, you have many options for getting it set up.

    • It’s helpful to seek IT consulting for guidance that will be specific to your business needs. Retail IT consultants can help you simplify all the complex decisions and details that could overwhelm you otherwise.
    • You can research software specifically created for retail ECommerce.
    • Hire a retail IT consultant to choose the most optimum retail software as per your needs.
    • Hire a IT consultant / software development company to help you.

    Hopefully this gives you a better idea of your options when it comes to choosing whether you want to sell through a marketplace or your own store. We hope this information will be helpful to you as you decide on the best approach for your business.

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    CRM in Retail – Why is it becoming an absolute essential tool for success?

    You may have heard about CRM, or customer relationship management. What you don’t know is just how important it has become in the retail space. On the face of it, CRM sounds just like what a retail business should already be doing- building and managing relationships with customers.

    However, the real value of paying specific attention to the new tool of CRM software, that have made the process and workflow of actually developing those relationships much easier. As the saying goes, the best customers are the ones you already have. In retail, repeat business and loyalty matters. CRM solutions are the best way to promote that loyalty through carefully managing the experience of each customer.

    Why CRM?

    The CRM software tools now provide you ability to manage your customers, sales, orders, invoices, and products in more structured and automated fashion. Further business usage of this large CRM dataset can be achieved by analyzing and visualizing through various meaningful reports. This has brought totally new insight to various functions of marketing, product design, customer support, inventory management and even branding.

    CRM software can tap into an interconnected dataset made up of each customer’s history of interaction with the retail brand. That opens up the possibility to optimize business processes to make sure every customer has a good experience, because it’s that positive experience that encourages people to keep coming back.

    The Basics of CRM

    There are four main aspects of business that CRM tools can help unify: sales, marketing, technical support, and customer service. All of these are ways in which the business interacts directly with individual customers, so they all provide golden opportunities to leave a good impression. CRM can automate tasks like calling up customers to remind them to renew subscriptions or track a customer’s past interactions with the support team.

    That lets the business build up a picture of who its most valuable clients are, what needs motivate their customers, and which frustrating aspects of the product lead to the most calls to customer service or tech support, among other things. CRM tools allow the business to treat every customer with the familiarity of a long-time regular, and that’s the kind of approach that solidifies relationships.

    How to implement?

    Nothing matters more than figuring out how to build relationships with customers that will last, and that’s why CRM’s ability to coordinate goals and insights cross several departments is so valuable.

    CRM software tools take time to learn and implement in any organization, not because of their complexity but merely due to change management it requires across the businesses. Bringing in an experienced IT consulting firm that already know and understand CRM software can be major savings of both time and money.

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    Retail Ecommerce – Things to consider when accepting payments online

    Once your Ecommerce website is up and running, it’s time to figure out how to accept online payments for all the products your customers will be purchasing through you. There are a number of easy steps that can be taken in order to ensure an easy checkout process for your customer. Plus, with software outsourcing and software consulting, accepting payments with your retail website is easier than ever.

    Pick your payment method

    How do you want to be paid? That should be the first question you ask yourself. There are a variety of payment methods that can be utilized on any given Ecommerce website. Popular payment methods include:

    • PayPal
    • Credit/ Debit Card
    • Bill Me Later
    • Google Checkout
    • Check
    • Cash on Delivery

    Now, you don’t have to use every payment method available. However, offering at least three payment methods is recommended so that your customers aren’t stuck only using one. This is incredibly helpful for customers who may not have a PayPal or credit card (or prefer not to provide their information over the web), and prefer sending in a check instead. A variety of payment methods just mean more ways for you to get paid!

    Pick your payment gateway

    Without a payment gateway, there’s no way to verify information and authorize payment in real time. With a payment gateway account, you get a service that facilitates between the customer’s account and your account, which allows you to receive payment. There are literally hundreds of different payment gateways, including:

    • VeriSign
    • Sage Pay
    • net
    • Paypal
    • 2Checkout

    Integrating a payment gateway might not be a straight task and you may need an experienced IT consultant and software programming company to do it for you. They usually integrate different types of payment gateways to build a system for you that works again and again. Using a middle man like that really cuts down on the time you spend creating and using a payment gateway account.

    Pick your online merchant

    Once you’ve decided what retail IT software you’re going to be using for your shopping cart, payment gateway, payment method, and more, it’s time to get an online merchant account. Without an account, customers have no where to put the money they give you when they make a purchase.

    This step is extremely crucial, as there are many online merchant services to watch out for. Make sure to read the fine print and avoid using any online merchant services that require an additional fee for credit card use or hidden charges. Also, make sure to stay aware of the other fees that go along with having an online merchant account, including account fees and minimums, termination fees, statement fees, annual fees, and much more.

    Don’t rush

    Take some time researching your options for all of the software you’re going to need. The software plays a role in the theme and design of your website, so choose carefully and make sure that each different software ties in with your overall goal for the website.

    As simple as it may appear with a complete plethora of tools and software available in the market, it may still be a scary but essential step in your journey to sell online.

    If you feel a little confused or feel that putting this in the hands of a professional will make everything run smoother, look into employing an IT consultant. An experienced IT consultant should be well capable of making the choices for you so that you can get the best and well secured experience of online payments for your consumers.