Every retail business owner knows the importance of adapting to their consumers’ constantly changing needs. One way to do keep up with them is to make sure we are using the right technology and systems – whether that be through our POS software, e-commerce platforms, accounting and inventory management, loyalty and booking systems, and so many more.
This is why I’ve created the Ultimate Retail Tech Guide to help you decide what your retail business needs in terms of this software, hardware, and apps! This guide talks all about the software and systems you need to up your game in the retail entrepreneurship industry, so you can not only make your customers happy but your staff and yourself as well.
I’ve compiled links and recommendations as well for easy convenience and accessibility! So sit back, relax and enjoy the episode!
- 03:05 Point of Sale (POS) system – the very first piece of software that a retail brand and business owner needs
- 03:33 What should a good POS software be able to do?
- 05:39 Hardware that POS systems today will need
- 08:49 Advanced inventory management system can do a lot more than your normal POS
- 10:30 Accounting system which allows integration with the POS and able to manage books, daily sales, and purchases
- 12:57 Shift planning system –
- 14:11 Analytics software
- 15:36 Loyalty system
- 17:28 E-commerce platform
- 20:04 Reservation system or speciality software system
- 21:59 Marketing software systems
Features of a Great POS software system:
- Allow you to sell in an easy manner means that your staff and you should not be overwhelmed with all of the buttons on the screen.
- Allow you to do customer tracking. It’ll allow you to gather customer information like name, email age, and what are they buying on a day-to-day basis.
- Inventory management. Most POS systems these days will do some level of inventory management, which is something that every retail brand needs. specifically, within inventory management, you need to know what you’re buying, when you’re buying who you’re buying it from
- And the most important metric is the average cost.
- Another component within POS software systems is the ability Ready to do transfers, store transfers, stock transfers, inventory count. All of this also falls under inventory management and is a key part. The process around how to do this is a topic for another time.
Hardware a POS Software System Needs:
- PC, Mac, or an iPad – I personally prefer the POS software systems running on an iPad because it just opens so many avenues for a better customer experience.
- Receipt printer
- Barcode scanner – I recommend the brand Socket
- Cash drawers
- Label Printer
- iPad stand (optional) – I recommend Heckler
Recommendations for Advanced Inventory Management Software:
Recommendations for Accounting Software Systems:
Recommendations for Shift Planning Systems:
Recommendations for Analytics Software Systems:
Recommendations for Loyalty Software Systems:
Recommendations for Ecommerce Website Platforms:
Recommendations for Reservation Systems:
Recommendations for Marketing Software:
“A good analytics tool or business intelligence tool will allow you to make this process really easy because it will do all the slicing and dicing for you. In fact, it will present some amazing dashboards that you can further drill down into.”
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The advanced inventory management system, however, can do a lot more than a fewest software system. Typically, this would include multi warehouses, multi beam support, rate calculation, landed cost calculation, and it’s okay if you don’t know all of these terms. But if you know about these terms, and if your business requires these, then you certainly do need an advanced inventory management system so that you can do complicated kind of transaction.
Hello, hello, and a very big welcome to the Elevated Entrepreneur podcast. If this is your first time here, I cannot thank you enough, because I love the fact that you’ve chosen to spend some time with me, and listening to me share my knowledge with you and I hope this helps you. If you haven’t already, make sure you check out elevatedentrepreneur.fm, which is the website where we host all of this information, including episodes, show notes, transcriptions and even handy downloadables. If you’ve already been listening to the show, thank you too because you know, I could not do it without your love and support.
Now, today’s episode is all to do with retail but before we get into the episode, can we just take a quick second and acknowledge that we are now in the final half of 2021? Can you believe it? It has gone by so quickly. And we are here now almost getting to the end. And I hope that all of us have had an amazing year, and have been able to accomplish the things that we’ve been wanting to do, especially the ones that we made a list of at the beginning of 2021. And I’ll be publishing another episode very soon talking about my progress on my goals, because last year, I promised that I would do accountability sessions with all of you. So stay tuned for that. Now coming back to today’s episode, it’s all about retail tech. Specifically, I’m going to help list out all the retail software systems that a retail brand owner and business should know about because tech is a enabler, it is not a cost. And if tech is used correctly, it can help you grow your business multifold. So I hope today’s episode is going to give you so much information. So grab a pen and paper lso grab your headphones, and if you’re driving, keep your eyes on the road. Remember, you can get access to all of this in a really handy list on our website. But help me cue the music.
You’re listening to the Elevated Entrepreneur podcast, a podcast designed to help retailers restauranteurs and entrepreneurs simplify business operations and use modern technology to elevate their business. here’s your host, Dhiren Bhatia.
Hello, thank you again for joining me, this is a amazing episode because this is the ultimate guide for tech for retail brands. So why don’t we kick off this episode with the very first thing or software system that a retail brand and business owner needs and that is going to be a POS system a point of sale system and I’m not talking about payment machines. This is usually what POS gets mixed up with. When I’m talking about POS I’m talking about a really good solid point of sale software that allows you to sell your goods allows you to do so much more. Now, what are some of the things that a good POS software should be able to do? Well, firstly, it should allow you to sell in a really easy manner, means that your staff and you should not be overwhelmed with all of the buttons on the screen.
Second, a good POS system will also allow you to do customer tracking. It’ll allow you to gather customer information like name, email age, and what are they buying on a day to day basis. Another aspect of a good software POS system is inventory management. Most POS systems these days will do some level of inventory management, which is something that every retail brand needs. Specifically within inventory management, you need to know what you’re buying, when you’re buying who you’re buying it from. And the most important metric is average cost. I cannot tell you how important this number is for a retail business owner. Why? Because when you purchase items, over time, your cost of that item is going to change. And you need to be able to track that cost so that when you pull your profitability reports they are being pulled on this very cost, not the cost for the item that you purchased the last time but rather the average cost really important. And most cloud based software systems today from POS makers will allow you to do this really easily.
Another component within POS software systems is the ability to do transfers, store transfers, stock transfers, inventory count. All of this also falls under inventory management, and is a really key part. The process around how to do this is a topic for another time but remember, when you are looking for a good POS software, make sure it has the ability to do these sorts of transactions. Because if you don’t count your inventory, if you don’t know what is being transferred from one location to another, you’re going to have a really hard time reconciling your inventory. Whether it’s the end of the month and the quarter end of the year, it’s going to be super hard. So have a system that allows you to do this and create some process around that. Now, to run this viewer software, you’re also going to need some hardware. Typically, there are certain pieces of hardware that every POS software today will function on. Firstly, it’s either going to be a PC or a Mac, or an iPad. And I personally prefer the US software systems running on an iPad because it just opens up so many avenues for a better customer experience. Just like the way you would see happen at Apple, right? You walk into the store, they have all of these devices, they can walk up to you and that exact functionality is now available to all retail brand owners. It’s just a matter of trying to figure out what kind of customer experience you’d like to create in your store, which is why I love iPads and like I said most cloud based POS software systems will work off of iPads. Also, you’re going to need a receipt printer. This is a printer that prints out a receipt typically in an ATM, standard issue, receipt paper. And if you’d like you can also connect most of these POS software systems to other printers that allow you to print a four, a five B five all sorts of receipt templates. Other than this, you need a barcode scanner. And this could be USB or Bluetooth and a good brand that works with most of the cloud based software systems these days is called Socket. So Socket scanners are phenomenal. They’re really tiny, really handy. They’ll get into your pocket super nice, and they all communicate via Bluetooth so range is not an issue. Another item that you’re going to also need to add to your shopping lists are cash drawers. These are pretty standard, you see them everywhere. black boxes, well they now come in a lot of other colors, but they are basically connected to your receipt printers, we get asked a lot about how cash drawers actually function, it’s really simple. The cash drawers always plug in the receipt printer. At the bottom of the receipt printer, there is going to be a slot or a port, which your cash drawer will connect to and so when the software system sends a signal to the receipt printer to print a receipt, the receipt printer will actually send a signal to the cash drawer to open and allow you to trade cash really easy and super simple to set up.
And the last thing that you need in your hardware bundle is going to be a label printer. These are printers that allow you to print barcodes, or labels, whatever you need in your retail brand. A good brand to look into is Dymo or Zebra both of these brands are amazing and they work with most cloud based POS software systems and they’re really easy to set up and they allow you to print labels that you can then stick to your merchandise with your branding, your pricing all of that handy stuff rather than displaying ugly ones that come from your supplier. So a good barcode label printer should make your life really easy. And one last thing that you need is a good iPad stand and this is optional. If you’re going for an iPad, make sure you grab a really good iPad standard allows you to lock in the iPad, keep it on a very solid base. Typically these are made of stainless steel Heckler is a really good brand that you could look at, we recommend Heckler quite a bit. Super nice, super easy. Now, we’ve talked about POS software and the hardware that goes with it. The next thing that we need to talk about in this ultimate retail tech guide is an advanced inventory management system. Now, I need to pause here for a second and explain what I mean by advanced inventory management because I already mentioned a POS software typically has inventory management capabilities. An advanced inventory management system, however, can do a lot more than a POS software system. Typically, this would include multi warehouses, multi bin support, freight calculation, landed cost calculation, and it’s okay if you don’t know all of these terms but if you know about these terms, and if your business requires these, then you certainly do need an advanced inventory management system so that you can do complicated kind of transactions, which may include getting stuff from your supplier outside of the UAE or any other region that you’re in, be able to calculate landed cost which includes the cost of customs freight insurance all then baked into your cost of the item and if you want this to be tracked again you will need an advanced inventory management system. A good example of this and one that we recommend for our client are called unleashedsoftware and the other one is dia de AR D Systems really good software systems that do advanced capabilities within inventory management, there’s a lot more to get into and again, as always, if you need any help, my team and I are always here to help make sure that you’re on the right path. Now, we’ve got our POS, we’ve got a POS hardware, and we’ve got an advanced inventory management system taken care of, what’s next?
The next item on the list that you should be considering is a good accounting software system. Now, what is the difference between accounting and advanced inventory and POS systems, quite a lot actually, a accounting system allow you to manage your profit and loss, your balance sheet, track your rent, all of the stuff that your pure software system or advanced inventory management system can’t do, because that’s not what they’re designed for. And this also includes salaries, IT expenses, anything that you do other than inventory need to be tracked in an accounting system. A good accounting system like Xero, X E R O, or QuickBooks Online, will also then integrate with your POS and advanced inventory management system, which makes for a really nice workflow. Another good reason to have an accounting system is to be able to manage your books, as well as your daily sales and purchases. Now, typically, I’ve seen a lot of business owners and their team members spend a lot of time entering this information by hand, or duplicating it from the POS system into the accounting system. These days, it’s really easy to hook your accounting system directly up into your POS software system, which means all of the numbers including sales purchases, all of that gets transferred over to your accounting system, making your life super easy. And most of making sure that your accountant is actually doing accounting and not bookkeeping, which is typically what I see happen a lot of times. The next thing that a retail brand should know about and should look for is a good shift planning system. This is typically been done on Excel for many years and most brands are okay with doing shift planning on Excel. And that’s fine however, I think today’s day and age software has become so available and so democratized, that you can get this amazing horsepower, for example, to be able to know which staff to schedule when depending on their capabilities, depending on their certifications, and also calculating their days off. And their schedule, this HR shift planning system will recommend the right staff for you and automatically build out a schedule for you so that you don’t have to spend time doing all of that math. And then once the system presents a schedule to you, you can then make your changes and then publish, which then goes and pings everybody on their cell phones, and letting them know that there is a new schedule available and there are so many other amazing workflows that are available, for example, even swapping shifts, swapping shifts is so common in retail, where one staff member cannot make the shift and they have to ask the manager to find someone, the manager then has to call a lot of other staff members as you can see, this can be very, very time consuming. Now with these software systems, this is automatic. I as a team member could very quickly put out a message that say, hey, look, I need to switch my shift and somebody else on the other end would pick it up and say yeah, I’m good. And then go to the manager or the owner for approval. Really nice way to cut out all of that extra administrative work that all of retail managers and brand owners have to do constantly.
So just to recap, we’ve talked about a POS system, we’ve talked about the hardware for the POS system. We’ve talked about the advanced inventory management systems. We’ve also talked about the accounting system and finally the shift planning system. Oh, and I almost forgot. Some good examples of shift planning systems include deputy Plan A, and many more. There’s about 10 systems that you could look at. These are really easy to work with and all do very similar things. Just make sure that your POS system can integrate with your chosen staff scheduling system. Now the next thing that’s on my list that I want to talk to you about is analytics. Why analytics?
Well, all of this data that now gets churned out of your POS software system, your accounting system, you’re going to need to be able to analyze this information and actually make decisions based on those numbers. A good analytics tool or business intelligence tool will allow you to make this process really easy because it will do all the slicing and dicing for you. In fact, it will present some amazing dashboards that you can further drill down into. Typically you can expect to see things like most popular store, transaction size is at the store, what is selling, what’s not selling who your best customers are, what season of products are moving, and so much more. There is an infinite amount of reports You can customize out of these systems and make slicing and dicing of the data, a really easy process for you.
A few good examples of these systems include Tenzo, Zoined, and even something called Loop. All these are great, they plug into most of the retail software system that I’ve talked about so far and they also plug into your accounting system as well as your staff scheduling system. So you can imagine the potential benefit that you could get as a retail brand owner by seeing all of these data points, aggregated in one source. There’s a few more systems on my list that I want to talk to you about. Next one is a good loyalty system. A good loyalty system will allow you to issue points have customers redeem points. But what’s really good about loyalty systems these days is that they are able to be omni channel, which means that you can use the same loyalty system in your store and have that connected to your ecommerce store. So this means your customers can earn points whether they shop in store or online, and they can also redeem vice versa. A really good loyalty system can also allow you to do other things like marketing automation, SMS automation. Typically, these are things that you couldn’t do from a POS software system, even though some POS software systems have loyalty baked into them. But a bonafide third party loyalty system would be really helpful for you, as you start to grow and scale your business. A few examples of these systems include brands like Marsello, M A, R, S, E, double L O, a brand called Eber, E B E R, and also a brand called Smile smile.io. These systems are industry leaders, they’ve been doing this for a very long time and they have really figured out how to do cross platform loyalty for retail, the phenomenal system that we have implemented for many of our customers, take a look, I’m sure you’ll love them. And also important to consider, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel with loyalty systems, I see a lot of brands and business owners create a loyalty program and a software from scratch because they think that their needs are very bespoke. And that may be true for a very select few retail brands. For the most part, a off the shelf loyalty software system, like the ones I mentioned, Eber, Smile, and Marsello will really do the trick because they do so much more than just loyalty.
So give them a look, I’m sure you’ll be very pleased. There’s three more systems we need to talk about. One of them is an e – commerce system. And I know e – commerce is the buzzword today but I know a lot of brands are still unsure about how to get started with e – commerce. And typically they’re going to follow what their web developer gives them as a suggestion. Sometimes that’s right and sometimes that’s not right, because web developers obviously have their own agenda to follow. And so I want to make sure that you are aware of the different systems that you should be looking at when you’re considering building an e – commerce platform or even upgrading your e – commerce platform. They include names like Shopify WooCommerce, bigcommerce, Magento, Squarespace, Wix, PrestaShop and there’s a few more. However, the key thing to understand here is, which is the right system for you. And I have a whole episode on this that I did separately called guide to selling everywhere, which is elevated entrepreneur.fm/24. I’d love for you to take a listen to that, because that goes into much more detail. But coming back to this episode and giving you a brief idea about ecommerce systems, typically, Shopify and bigcommerce are done for you services, which means they offer you pretty much everything that you need to know about e – commerce already done and sorted. Whereas stuff like WooCommerce is a lot more hands on, you’ll need to figure out what you’d want to do and how you’d want to configure everything. And then Magento is sort of the granddaddy here, it really gives you nothing except for the software and all of its capabilities and you’ve got to really build everything from the ground up. Now I see a lot of business owners being advised to go down the route of using something like Magento and Magento is great. It is a phenomenal software system, but highly complex and typically, this is going to be needed by really high end and sort of large brands like Nike and Under Armour, those guys would use something like Magento. For a lot of other brands, from small to medium sized Magento is generally overkill, and requires a lot more effort in terms of time and money because you’ll have to hire a developer in house who can help you make sure the system remains up to date on an ongoing basis, which is typically not the case with Shopify, WooCommerce, becomes because they will do the upgrades for you and very little work for you to think about from a back end administration standpoint. Again, you can head on over to elevatedentrepreneur.fm/24 for much more detailed episode on ecommerce.
And I hope that you will enjoy that episode. If you’re really interested in setting up e commerce for your business. Oh right. We are now almost at the end of my ultimate retail tech list. The second last system that I want you to be aware of our reservation system. Now, these are typically more specialty systems. But a lot of businesses that I know use some sort of reservation element where they need to book, if they’re a salon or a spa, there are pet business or if there are a cycle repair shop, these businesses typically need an element of bookings and a lot of good POS software systems don’t include bookings, but they do integrate with other systems. So a couple examples of these systems include systems like Resurva, which is R E S U R V A, or Timely, T I M E L Y, or even Booxi B double O XI. These are great because they allow you to set up a phenomenal reservation and booking system online very quickly. And that can then bring in all of this information for the customer directly into the POS. And we have lots of clients that use this equation, so that when a client books, and they’re able to choose all of their services online, in some cases, they can even pay online because these systems are already integrated with payment providers and that information then flows directly into your POS, so a phenomenal workflow. In your case, if you’re a retail business with some level of service. A similar example of a specialty system is a system called HUBTIGER H U B T I G E R. I found out about this software pretty recently, very specifically, they are a software for bicycle shops, or even motorcycle shops that do repair services, and all sorts of related services. So Hubtiger will allow you to do all of the bookings and the park management, the service management all built into that system, which can then be directly integrated to your POS, or your inventory management system or even your accounting system. And in some cases, even your e – commerce system. So really good specialty system for bicycle shops that you should be aware of.
The last system on my list that I want to share with you are marketing software systems, marketing software systems are systems that allow you to market to your customers. Typically, this can include email marketing, SMS marketing, and all sorts of other automated reminders that go out on birthdays and discounts and coupons. Now typically, a lot of times, my customers will ask me Hey listen, can the POS software system do this? And the answer is generally no. Because a POS software system does whatever it needs to do around POS and inventory, but it does integrate with other systems, including marketing systems and an example of a good marketing system includes a system like MailChimp, Active Campaign, and there’s a few others but two of these are really good because they make marketing automation, really easy. Now remember, if you’re already doing loyalty, that loyalty system have that baked into it already, so you don’t have to worry about having a separate marketing system. But if you’re looking for a standalone marketing system without the frills of loyalty, then something like MailChimp, and Active Campaign will do really well, because they have you so much other stuff that a good POS software system cannot. And so there you have it, folks, a really handy list of all of the software systems that a retail business and brands should know about. If you think I’ve missed something, I’d love to hear from you. Go on and send me an email or head on over to elevatedentrepreneur.fm/speak and you can record a voice message. And I will feature that in the show notes so if you think there is something that I’ve missed, or you think that you have a system that is really handy, and that other retail business owner should know about, go on and share it with us and I’d be happy to share it for you.
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