Retail software is an important purchase for any small retail store business. Selecting the right retail software can make your business more efficient, increase sales, and improve customer satisfaction. Whilst picking the wrong software can have just the opposite effect. Slowing processes down, limiting the number of sales you can make, and causing your customers (and your staff) to become frustrated. So what factors are important to consider when selecting your retail software?
Retail Software – What Your Small Business Needs
On-premise or in the cloud?
You can choose to host the software on your premises or access your software via an Internet browser (in the cloud). The advantage of having it on the site is that if something goes wrong with the software, you can immediately access it to fix it yourself. This, however, requires that you have a certain amount of technological know-how, as you will need to be able to perform any repairs yourself or hire someone to do it for you.
When you buy software on the premise, you normally pay an upfront fee with the option to pay for ongoing support. Additionally, you will have to purchase hardware, such as a server, for the software to run on and a system for backing up your data in case of hardware failure. The onus will be on you to secure and maintain your entire system and pay for and perform any required software upgrades.
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Web-based software means signing up for a SaaS (software as a service) model. This requires you to pay monthly rather than the large upfront costs associated with on-premise software. Cloud software eliminates the need to purchase hardware, secure systems, run backups or perform upgrades. The software company will do this for you. However, you rely on a good Internet connection to access your plans, so if you opt for this solution, you must budget for a high-quality Internet package.
Inventory, accounts, and CRM.
When selecting your retail software, you must determine how your business’s different areas share data. The key systems you will need to receive data about the products you are selling are your inventory (what products have been sold, and how many you have left to sell), your accounts (how much did you sell your products for, and how much profit have you made) and your CRM (who did you sell the products too, and can you encourage them to buy from you again). If all these systems work in harmony, your business will be much more efficient, and you will start making more sales.
Ideally, you want these three systems working together; integrating separate packages can be costly, so buying a pre-integrated or all-in-one solution makes sense. Integrated retail software removes the need to transfer data between multiple software systems that may not necessarily be programmed in the same format. This will save you a lot of time and mean that all your systems are updated in real-time rather than waiting for you to do a data synchronization for them to update. So you, or your staff, won’t have to stay late anymore doing stock takes or updating accounts. It’s all done for you as it happens.
Your staff is the people who will need to use them to make sales. Make sure that you bear them in mind when you are making the selection. Think about what will make their job easier. If your staff are happy, they will provide better service, making your customers happy, ultimately resulting in more sales and higher customer satisfaction.
Would it suit them better to have portable tablets to make sales around the store? Would it be easier if there were multiple bills to serve from so they aren’t constantly waiting for others to finish filling? Would giving them access to the stock levels in the warehouse make their lives easier? Please speak to your staff members and determine what would benefit them to choose the software that best fits their needs.
Although remember what suits your business too, make sure you can limit your staff’s access to your back-end systems. You may want to let them see stock levels, but you would unlikely like them nosing around your accounts. Select retail software that works for you both.
What hardware will you need to accompany it?
You’ll need to buy some hardware to go with your retail software. If you opt for an on-premise solution, you will need to buy a server, a firewall, a backup facility, and a secure cabinet to keep your equipment in. For web-based software, you will not need this equipment, just a safe and fast Internet connection, but additional hardware will be required for either solution. You will need central cash till to keep cash payments and credit receipts. This will need to be connected to your retail software so that it is triggered to open when a sale is made. All your products must also be scanned by a barcode scanner to be picked up by the retail software. You will need to invest in a few of these so that staff can make multiple sales simultaneously. Once a deal has been made, you will need to provide a receipt; make sure you have a facility in your retail software to hook up to the thermal printer so that these receipts can be printed automatically.
Your company, your decision
All in all, make sure that your decision is the best for your business. No two companies are the same, so it is important that you understand what it is you’re looking for and don’t just settle for the first solution to come your way.
Take the time to identify your needs and research the market to find the best retail software solution for your business. Many software products can try before you buy, so take the time to test some out before making your final decision.
Brightpearl is business management retail software for small businesses that integrates inventory, accounts, CRM, e-commerce, point of sale, and more. Aiming to help small retail businesses to grow by providing them with great quality retail software.