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3 action steps retailers should take to improve store efficiency

Written by Greg Millar on August 7th, 2017.      0 comments

If you work in retail, you probably have an endless to-do list, juggling several tasks all while making sure your customers are happy.

iStock 000010567995XSmall-91To avoid being overwhelmed and overworked, you need to find ways to streamline your operations. The last thing you want is to get caught up in tedious jobs and fail to accomplish tasks. Particularly tasks that significantly contribute to your bottom line.

In this article, we’ll shed light on the steps you can take to streamline your retail operations and give yourself more free time to focus on actually growing your business and keeping your customers happy.

Step 1 – Identify the manual and tedious tasks in your business.

Streamlining certain business tasks can save you time and lower your operating costs. Time is money, after all, so the more you spend on manual tasks, the less time you have to do things that move the needle. Things such as selling products, serving customers, and growing your business.

So how can you streamline your operations? You can start by identifying the tasks that are slowing you down. These typically include anything that requires a pen and paper, as well as manual data entry.

Examples of such tasks are:

  • Manually counting inventory
  • Filling out employee time sheets
  • Managing paper invoices
  • Manually tallying up income and expenses
  • Anything that requires entering values into a spreadsheet
  • Double-entry tasks (e.g. re-entering information from your point of sale (POS) to your payment processor or accounting software)
  • Entering and managing information from different stores using separate systems (e.g. having to update your offline inventory every time you make an online sale)

It’s important to involve your employees in this step. Talk to your staff and ask them about the manual and tedious tasks they need to do, then add those to your list.

Once you’ve listed all those tasks, you can then start finding ways to put them on autopilot.

Step 2 – Figure out how to automate certain tasks.

Go through the list you created and then ask yourself: which of those tasks will have the biggest impact on your productivity or bottom line?

Determine the answer to that question and then find ways to “digitize” them.

1. Get rid of your pen and paper

Replace manually counting your inventory with a new (and cloud-based) inventory system. There are many stock control solutions on the market that can automate, or at least digitize, various inventory-related tasks. These tasks include updating stock levels, categorizing products and creating orders for your suppliers. You can even use a handheld device like your phone or tablet to do stock counts.

2. Automate stock levels

Use automatic reorder points. Using these means you don’t have to keep watching your stock levels. Your system will let you know when a product is running low and alert you when it’s time to reorder.

3. Go cloud-based

If you opt for a cloud-based inventory software (hint: you should), you’ll be able to keep track of your stock across multiple channels and locations all from one system.

4. Digitise your business finances

Finally, make things easier for you and your accountant by using accounting software. Cloud accounting software is particularly useful as it can track your finances no matter where you are. These accounting solutions enable you to create, approve and send invoices digitally. You can also upload receipts and track expenses.

Step 3 – Get different apps to work together.

Using apps and retail platforms to run your business is just the beginning. For the best results, integrate your apps and allow them to share information in real-time. This will eliminate the hassle of having to update information on separate programs. In retail, the most common types of integrations are:

Integrated payments

Point of sale integrated payments allow sales to flow directly from your POS system to your card reader. With integrated payments, you won’t have to manually key the transaction information into the card reader. This makes it easier and faster to ring up sales. It also removes double entry as well as the likelihood of human error.

Consider the case of Grain & Vine, a boutique wine retailer in Brooklyn, New York. According to owner Michael Nagdimunov, when they first opened the store, they went the “non-integrated route” with payments. Since moving to a payment processor that integrated with their POS, Nagdimunov said they’ve been able to reduce the need for double-entry and increased the speed of checkout by over 50%.

Retail management and accounting

A retailer’s financials can get complicated. That’s why it’s important for your point of sale and accounting software to “talk” to each other. You want these two systems to be tightly integrated so they can sync all the necessary financial information — ideally in real-time.

This will make things like bank reconciliations and taxes much easier, and you won’t have to worry about managing your financials using two separate systems.

Point of sale and staffing

Integrating your POS and staffing software can make employee scheduling much simpler. Many staff management solutions can use POS data to determine store trends, enabling you to schedule employees and assign shifts based on real-time sales data.

Integration best practices

Looking into different integrations? The following tips will help you save time and money when connecting different solutions.

Go for apps with existing integrations.

Check out your existing providers to see if they already integrate with other applications.

Know what information will be synced (and what won’t).

When you’re thinking about integrating different systems, make sure you know exactly what types of information will be synced.

  • Ask your provider about any special offers.

Apps with existing partnerships sometimes provide special offers for businesses that decide to take advantage of their integrations.

Bottom line

Being more efficient isn’t just about crossing tasks off your to-do list and getting things done. It’s also about utilizing the right tools and making sure those tools work together. 

If you’re looking for more tips and examples on how you can be more efficient in your business, contact the Alliotts team in Auckland on 09 520 9200 or click here to read how we can help.

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