Traditionally, the retail industry was dominated by brick-and-mortar stores with customers going in, looking, and shopping for what they desired. Technological innovations, however, have radically changed the landscape of the industry, with more changes likely to come as further developments are made.
The focus of the retail industry has transformed from an inventory-led sector to one that values customer experience and brands. In 2020, retail sales are expected to grow to approximately $5.57 trillion in the United States. The growth of the industry will bring with it changes in the structure such as a greater demand for easy returns, click and collect, cashier-less checkouts, and mobile-order ahead to make transactions smoother.
E-commerce sales constituted 14.4 per cent of retail sales in 2018, which goes to show how businesses today are not only competing at a local scale but an increasingly global level, too. This increased competition means that it's more important than ever for modern companies to keep up with the latest trends and adopt innovative technologies to maintain their competitive advantage.
Given how important it is for your business to stay up to date, here are five different types of software that can help optimize your retail business:
Order Fulfillment Software
Timely order fulfillment is a vital aspect of any business since untimely orders could potentially lead to loss of customers. For instance, 38 per cent of customers will abandon their orders if they take longer than a week, and 16 per cent will abandon their orders if delivery takes six to seven days.
Order fulfillment software automates various aspects of a retail business, such as packing, shipping, picking inventory, inventory management, tracking processes, and picking lists. It's especially useful for retail stores with an online aspect since it reduces errors by automating processes and streamlining the entire fulfillment operations process.
This kind of software can be used in combination with other software since it can be integrated with e-commerce platforms and track information and offer real-time updates. Additionally, order fulfillment software can be used by a variety of businesses regardless of whether they're operating from multiple or single warehouses. Moreover, you can filter orders yourself by customers, earliest due date, or through an entirely custom sorting.
Payment Processing Software
In the United States, the online payment processing software industry was valued at $21 billion in 2018, with an 8.9 per cent growth rate. It can be described as a virtual terminal that allows retail companies to process payments, both in-store and online. These software processes debit cards, credit cards, and other payment methods to facilitate transactions in-store and online.
Payment processing software allows businesses to process transactions quickly and securely that lets customers enter their payment details and protects them by connecting with financial institutions. The software builds credibility for your business and helps improve overall security by minimizing fraud.
Additionally, invoices get processed more quickly, which further minimises costs by reducing the need for a billing and invoicing department. Hence, payment processing software is essential for any business that wants to operate online and accept cashless payments.
Retail Management Software
For every retail business, retail management software is a must-have. It allows companies to conduct a variety of functions that they can use in the day-to-day functioning of the company by providing tools to conduct inventory management, customer relationship management (CRM), and point-of-sale transactions.
Retail management software streamlines transactions and improves the company's efficiency by simplifying daily processing and thereby eliminating the need to repeat tasks. For instance, retail management software helps you manage your inventory more efficiently by providing complete information on current stock and flagging extra inventory. This up-to-date information reduces costs by ensuring you don't order excess inventory and, hence, minimises wastage, too.
Anyone with a retail business can take advantage of retail management software since such software conducts multiple processes through one integrated platform. With aspects of finance, marketing, and data analytics, retail management software is a one-stop-solution.
A point-of-sale (POS) system is a hardware and software that works in conjunction to allow transactions between a retail company and its customers. Depending on how your retail business operates, POS systems can either be on-premise or cloud-based. The former requires the purchase of a license with the installation of the software on a computer server or network. The latter allows you to access software over the internet.
A point of sale system not only improves efficiency by eliminating the need for a traditional payment system such as a cash register, but it also uses barcode scanning and credit card terminals to process payments more smoothly. A POS system also tracks sales, further providing sales reports and predictions for future trends.
POS software is especially useful for companies operating in multiple locations since it combines data and customer information from everywhere. For smaller businesses, too, POS software performs a lot of tasks, such as recording sales, that would otherwise have to be done manually.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Software
ERP software acts as a platform that integrates all the various functions and processes across your company. It combines, manages, and analyses data from different tasks by allowing you to view it in one place.
The dynamic nature of ERP allows it to be used across multiple industries, with the global ERP software market forecast to grow to around $86 billion by 2022. This makes it an absolute must-have for retail companies. While the defense and aerospace industries will have the highest software adoption growth rate at 8.86 per cent, other companies, such as those belonging to clothing, services, healthcare, and retail, can also capitalize on the software.
Perhaps the most significant advantage of using ERP is the centralised database it provides with all your documents and customer information in one place, which therefore improves efficiency and reduces errors due to the automation.
Technological advancements have given businesses multiple software to explore that could improve their business. By incorporating such software, you could potentially improve the efficiency of your business and allow operations to run much more smoothly.