The 10 Most Important Retail Technologies That Will Give Your Small Retail Business a Boost
- By Bob Twain
Here are 10 retail technologies that I believe will give
retailers the biggest benefit and boost for success. If
you're not utilizing any of these technologies then you
might want to check them out because you could be missing
out on some big time saving and money making tools...
Here they are in order of importance (in my humble opinion,
1) Point of Sale (POS) and Inventory Control Software
A good POS / Retail Management System can be a huge time
saver and money maker for you. That's partly why it's number one...
In its simplest form, a good POS system will track all your
sales so you can easily see how your business is doing (at
any time). In other words, it replaces your cash register.
It's difficult to decide where to even start talking about
POS software because it can do SO many things for you. I
could literally write a book about ALL the reasons why a POS
system will help you -- so I'll quickly summarize in 5 key
areas. A good POS system can...
Now keep in mind... not only will a POS system give you a huge
benefit, but it can also be the MOST difficult technology to
choose. There are many things to consider and you certainly
don't want to miss out on anything important because it's
very expensive to change POS systems. So take your time and
do your research when you choose a POS system.
- Dramatically improve your customer service.
- Simplify and improve inventory management.
- Improve the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
- Easily show where you're making and losing money so you
can make adjustments and increase profits.
- Save huge amounts of time by automating bookkeeping and
countless other retail tasks for you.
2) Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
One of the unwavering keys to building a successful retail
business is to build relationships with your customers.
Because of that, CRM software is a critical tool for the
retail business. And not only will CRM help you improve
your customer loyalty it will help you market to potential
prospects and generate new business.
In a nutshell, CRM software allows you to track your
customers, identify market segments and then easily
communicate with them via email, telephone, direct mail and
Some POS systems actually include CRM capabilities and
that's what I recommend. This allows you to track
all this information in one place and reduce time consuming
double entry. In any case, CRM software can be purchased as
a stand alone product or considered its own module in your
POS software. So it deserves its own category.
3) Bar Code Scanning and UPC Codes
Simply put, bar code scanning allows you to check products
at the point of sale much faster and more accurately than
can be done on the keyboard. Not only will this save you
time, but you should also consider the effect of your
Just think about the consequences of entering the wrong
product number and throwing off your inventory. Your
inventory is the lifeblood of your business and accuracy is
vital. These errors can cause you to lose sales, increase
inventory costs, and waste hours of time.
I should also point out that if your merchandise has UPC
codes, you can easily scan those tags without the need
to print your own bar codes. This can be a huge time saver.
4) Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
EDI technology allows you to send purchase orders (created
in your POS software) to your supplier electronically via
phone line or internet. Not only does this save a huge
amount of time, but it can also reduce errors -- so you don't
have to apologize to your customer because you special
ordered the wrong item.
Just imagine, using your POS software to automatically
generate purchase orders (based on order levels and sales
history) and then sending your order to your supplier
electronically. You can process your entire order without
entering a single product number! How much time would that
5) Retail Accounting Software
More and more retailers are doing their accounting in-house
because they can quickly produce up-to-date financial
statements and see how their business is doing at almost any
time. This has become easier for the small business owner
because of a variety of user friendly accounting
Accounting software can be purchased stand alone or can be
integrated with your POS software. Now it's important for
you to consider each different module within an accounting
system. I suggest that your Accounts Receivable module
(what people owe you) should almost always be integrated
with your POS software. It's also a good idea to get your
Accounts Payable module integrated with your POS too (because
you'll reduce double entry). Your General Ledger module can
be stand alone or integrated. There are pros and cons for
each method. If you'd like to learn more about integrating
POS and accounting software, here's a good article to check
6) Store Traffic Counters
These valuable devices will help you improve sales
conversion ratios, increase store traffic, and improve
advertising. If you're serious about increasing sales
conversions then you need an accurate measure of your store
traffic so you can determine your closing ratio. Automated
traffic counters are accurate and objective. They provide
surprisingly detailed data that takes the guesswork out of
measuring closing ratios and even how ads pull.
Store traffic counters also help better schedule your sales
staff because they identify actual foot traffic in your
store during certain time periods. You can also determine
if traffic goes up or down during marketing promotions so
you can figure out what works the best. And this is just
the tip of the iceberg! There are MANY benefits to this
7) Graphics Design Software
Most small retail business owners tend to wear many hats…
and taking care of marketing promotions can be one of them.
With computers and graphics programs today, you can save
thousands of dollars by creating simple flyers, brochures,
and ads with your own graphics design software. Popular
programs include Adobe InDesign, Adobe PageMaker, Corel Draw
and Microsoft Publisher.
8) Websites & Shopping Carts
Whether you sell products on your website or not... websites
can be powerful tools to promote your retail business. For
example, you could link to your website from business cards,
newspaper ads, and more. This gives you an opportunity to
tell your story, give people an idea of what you sell, and
convince them to stop by your store. Since it would be very
expensive to tell your entire sales story in a newspaper ad...
you can finish the job by sending people to your website and
Then if you're really serious, you can utilize a website
shopping cart so customers can place orders and pay you
right from the website.
Even better, integrate your website shopping cart with your POS software. If interested, you can learn all about shopping cart - POS software features here:
9) Payroll Software
Payroll software can allow you to do payroll in-house and
save a bunch of time. The software calculates the
deductions that come out of each payroll, like FIT, SIT,
FICA, 401K, HSA, flex, etc. It also calculates the totals
for W-2's (and prints them) at the end of the year. And of
course, it also prints nice looking checks with all the
deductions per payroll as well as year-to-date totals.
10) Portable Data Terminals (PDT) and Hand Held Computers
Portable data terminals are great tools that allow you to
quickly count your inventory and easily update your POS
system. You can simply carry around this portable terminal,
scan your merchandise, and then enter your on-hand
quantities. This allows you to more easily and accurately
count your inventory.
In addition, hand held computers are becoming more popular.
They allow you to create orders and complete various tasks
on a computer that fits in the palm of your hand. You could
place orders from a truck or anywhere inside or outside of
Now I obviously listed only 10 retail technologies because
it's a nice round number, but there are many other great
technologies that can help you out. For example, a few
honorable mentions include... signature capture devices, smart
cards, customer loyalty cards, wireless technology, and
I'm sure there are a few more that I'm missing, but
depending on your type of business, this is a pretty good
list to start with.
I suggest that you take a close look at each one of these
technologies. Make sure you understand what's involved and
why they are SO important. Then consider utilizing this
type of technology in your business (if you haven't
Here's To Your Success!
Did You Know About Our Other Products and Services?
Here are a few resources you might want to check out:
Content For Your Web Site Or E-zine
If you'd like to reprint the above article, please email me
your request and where it will reside, and I'll send you a short bio
and my website link to add at the end of the article.
To request permission to reprint any of our articles, contact us at: