Retailing has changed more quickly in the last few years than ever before. We have new expressions in our retail vocabulary that didn’t exist just a few short years ago; multi-channel retailing, online retailers, eCommerce and web sites. More than half of the households in the UK now have Internet access. More than half of Internet users buy products online (Office of National Statistics). Other changes include the trend towards out of town shopping centres and major supermarket chains following the Wal-Mart example and broadening their product ranges.
Alongside these changes, customers are more demanding than ever before. Loyalty cannot be taken for granted.
The winners in all this change will be the shops that are constantly learning and improving. There are opportunities emerging which can improve your business and help you reach more customers. Till software is now easier to use, lower in cost and when implemented in the right way, proven to considerably improve the performance of retail and hospitality businesses.
- Software – A program that sits on a computer and provides the functions of the till.
- EPOS – Electronic Point of Sale. A till controlled by a computer.
- PC – Personal computer.
- Multi Channel Retailing – selling products through the Internet or mail order as well as in the shop.
- eCommerce – buying and selling on the Internet.
- Online – being connected to the Internet.
- Broadband – fast access to the Internet using a specially installed telephone line.
1. Customer Experience – customers are becoming more demanding and less tolerant of poor service and delays. Till software technology helps staff deliver a more consistent, high quality experience by improving the transaction process. Technology speeds up throughput at the till, provides information to assistants to help answer questions and eases others aspects such as managing returned products.
2. Staff motivation – often the easiest way of increasing revenue is to sell more of what you have to existing customers. Well motivated staff who are keen to up-sell can have a major impact on your turnover. It’s not always easy to motivate staff, however the maxims; ‘what gets measured gets changed’, and ‘what gets rewarded gets done’ are useful to consider here. If you don’t measure it, you can’t change it and if you don’t reward it, change it is unlikely to happen.
3. Stock Management – stock costs can be lowered from 5% to 40% by ordering more frequently more accurately. A good computer system will identify fast and slow moving lines. It may also print replenishment reports which can simply be faxed directly to a supplier for fast and accurate replenishment. Leaner stock saves money and leaves you less vulnerable to changing trends.
4. Pricing –shops can improve margins on products using till software technology. Computers can provide up to date reports on product sales. Fast moving items may withstand greater margins. Computers allow you to track the impact of changing a price position. Being able to quickly identify a slow moving range is very useful as it can identify a changing trend and the items can be marked down sooner. A good computer system will also make it easy to set up discount schemes.
Technology can help you measure average customer purchases. It can also measure individual staff performance on cross selling, up-selling and gift wrapping for example. Staff can then be rewarded appropriately and will feel they are contributing more to the success of the shop.
5. Internet – the Internet is here to stay and it is slowly integrating itself into everyday life. The number of products purchased last year on Internet web sites was over 20% more than the previous year. Some of the latest till software systems have Internet facilities built in to them.
A web site is a page or pages of information placed on the Internet. It is found by a unique address, a type of telephone number, beginning with www (world wide web).
There are two kinds of web sites, those that advertise your shop and those that sell products. The former tend to be quite passive. The information they contain normally doesn’t change much so they require little updating. Typically this would include; shop pictures, typical products sold, contact information, opening hours and directions.
The eCommerce websites are those that allow customers to buy products from your shop online. These are highly active and require constant updating to make sure your product prices and product availability is up to date. Whilst this opens an exciting new sales channel, it is easy to underestimate the work required to maintain this type of site.
A good till system can significantly improve a shop’s profitability and productivity. However, some owners make the mistake of buying a till because other people say they need it. Firstly understand how it will help your customers, and secondly how it will help you. Consider how much extra business it will bring you and how much cost saving you will make. Then weigh these approximate financial gains against the cost.
Buy a till system only when you feel comfortable you know these aspects. There is no need to feel inadequate because you do not understand technology. It is up to your supplier to make sure you understand what you are buying.
A good till computer system is cheaper than ever now. In some cases, complete systems can be run from a single computer. Plan to spend about between 2% and 3% of your revenue on a computer system. You can take advantage of leasing to spread the initial cost. Don’t forget ongoing costs such as support, maintenance and Internet access.