How can IT improve your retail business?

How can IT improve your retail business?

With COVID-19 vaccinations being rolled out across the country, people are hoping for lockdowns to be lifted and for state economies to reopen completely. Brick-and-mortar retailers, in particular, are eager for foot traffic in their stores to return to pre-COVID levels. However, this will not happen in a snap, largely because a significant portion of the workforce unfortunately lost their jobs.

To generate sales in such a battered up economy, retailers need to be one step ahead of their competition. Here are but some IT tools that can let them do just that.

Inventory control system

This is a centralized platform for knowing what is in stock, what stock keeping units (SKUs) are coming, and how SKUs are performing saleswise. Tracking is done in real time, which means that inventories in your warehouse and stores are updated immediately, and sales trends can be spotted and be taken advantage of quickly. All of this not only makes your inventory management cost-efficient, but it also allows you to capture sales that you would otherwise lose if you don’t have an inventory control system in place.

First, it can help power virtual stores and facilitate in-store pickups or last-mile deliveries (more on this below). Second, if, for example, a shopper wants a shirt but their desired size and color ran out of stock, a salesclerk can use the system to find out if the particular item is still available in other branches. If this is the case, the clerk can refer the customer to the nearest branch, have the item moved to their shop, or help facilitate an online purchase.

Web-based and/or mobile stores

When people had to shelter in place, stores that offered their wares online and delivered to their customers fared much better than those that could not or would not do so. Online shopping has become a part of our DNA, so even when physical stores reopen, having an online store and/or mobile app will help you capture customers who prefer to shop online.

There are also many other perks to being online:

  • Executing online promotions tends to be less expensive than printing out coupons.
  • It is much easier to implement product subscription, loyalty, and referral programs on the internet.
  • Marketing tends to be more cost-effective when done digitally as opposed to on traditional media (TV, radio, print).

Social media, online maps and directories, and online ads

Thanks to lockdowns, there was a sharp increase in people interacting with each other and the world virtually. With people spending more time on the internet, it made sense for brick-and-mortar retailers to dive head first into cyberspace, broaden their social media presence, and reach more eyeballs via online ads.

And if large swaths of the population were glued to their smartphones before the pandemic began, then they are even more inseparable from their devices now. It’s so easy now for people to do an online search to find where they can purchase a particular item. Therefore, if your shop is not listed on an online map and your items can’t be found on the internet, then you’re losing out to businesses that have established their online presence.

To illustrate, if your brick-and-mortar shop carries vegetables that are popular in Asian cuisines and a potential customer enters “Where can I buy Chinese broccoli?” in a web browser, that person will find your shop more easily if your business is on an online map or Chinese broccoli is listed on your website.

If you want to leverage IT tools for your retail business, you’ll need the proper IT infrastructure to support your use of these. To meet all of your IT infrastructure needs, turn to Online Computers. Schedule a consultation with us today to find out more!

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