In the first quarter of 2019, retail e-commerce sales totaled $137.7 billion. That marks a 12.4 percent increase from the same quarter just a year prior. While e-commerce sales were 10.2 percent of total retail sales, the rate has been growing. This momentum has many retail business owners thinking: ‘What can we do to get in on that?’
- Domain name. It must be memorable. Keeping it short, easy to spell, and search engine friendly are must haves for your website name.
- User friendly. Visitors want a website that is easy to navigate, self-explanatory, quick, and responsive. Providing visitors with a user-friendly website will make them want to stay longer and return more often.
- Stability. Your website host is the key to keeping your site up, running, and viewable. There are different types of hosting services and costs vary. Make sure to select a hosting company that has a good support system. If a website fails or gets a reputation for failure, people will stop visiting.
- Platform. The ecommerce platform is arguably the most important part of your website as it enables financial transactions to occur on the site. When choosing a platform provider, consider if the platform is mobile friendly since people are utilizing their smart phones more and more. A CNBC report found, “72.6 percent of internet users will access the web solely via their smartphones by 2025, equivalent to nearly 3.7 billion people.”
- Speed. The platform also must be fast. If the website is slow, people will abandon their shopping carts and head elsewhere. According to neilpatel.com, “If an e-commerce site is making [$10,000] per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you [$250,000] in lost sales every year”. Website speed also affects how search engines rank your website, an important factor of finding new customers online.
- Secure. Your website must be secure. With people hyper concerned about security, a site breach or lack of confidence in your site will send visitors scurrying the other way. According to wemakewebsites.com, “13% of all cart abandonment is due to payment security concerns.”
A point-of-sale system, or “POS”, can help with multiple operational functions in your retail business – from the front end to the loading dock and everything in between. Software Advice describes the POS as: “the central component for your business; it’s the hub where everything—like sales, inventory and customer management—merges.” The main features can be put into the following categories:
- Sales reporting
- Inventory management
- Customer management
- Employee management
Many small businesses (56% of single store retailers according to Software Advice) do not have a POS, but instead rely on manual methods, a cash register, and general accounting software or spreadsheets for bookkeeping. While these methods are less expensive and may be able to produce some of the same information, they are inefficient and lack modern features to help make retailers more competitive.
The Houston Chronicle noted, “A major feature of POS systems is the ability to run real-time reports. Although many POS systems come with standard reports such as “cost of goods sold, gross sales, low inventory, existing inventory, customer purchase history and item-specific sales reports,” many systems can be configured to meet your specific needs.
A POS enables your small business to create more data and perform analytics in real-time. With the information at your fingertips, you can identify pain points and make informed decisions.
Workforce Management System
Although workforce management systems, or “WMS”, can be expensive, they can also be an investment in your small retail business. TechTarget says a, “WMS involves effectively forecasting labor requirements and creating and managing staff schedules to accomplish a particular task on a day-to-day and hour-to-hour basis.”
- Spend more time on the sales floor. With a WMS, retail managers are no longer stuck in the back room wrangling a spreadsheet to figure out the optimal schedule for the week. According to a TSheets survey, some people spend up to 12 hours creating a weekly schedule. That’s time you or your store manager could be out on the floor with customers or managing the staff.
- Optimal staffing. A WMS makes the chore of completing a schedule simple and straightforward. It can enable your small business to not be understaffed – which can leave customers and employees frustrated – nor overstaffed – which can hurt your bottom line. When creating a schedule, a WMS takes into account many factors including vacation and leave planning so that the schedule is optimized for the staff and your business.
- Employee flexibility. Today’s workers expect flexibility and a WMS can facilitate this with features which allow them to switch shifts and request time off on their mobile device. Empowering employees and enabling them to better control their own schedule can lead to happier, more productive employees who miss fewer days of work.
As the operator of a retail business, you will make countless decisions. When considering how to make your operation run smoothly, investing in a high-quality ecommerce website, an effective POS, and a featured WMS are decisions that you’ll look back on and be glad you made.
Recap: 3 Essential Retail Systems
- Workforce Management System
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