• Doug LaBahn
  • 13 July, 2023
  • Reading Time: 10 minutes
9 Business mission-critical software applications for retailers
Reading Time: 10 minutes

Business owners of retailers have a lot on their plate. Having a winning product isn’t enough; you need to manage inventory effectively, streamline your shipping process, track schedules, maintain customer relationships, and so much more.

Fortunately, there are plenty of software solutions available to help you streamline your retail business operations and maximize efficiency.

In this article, we'll review the nine retail software applications you need to run your retail business effectively and reach your goals.

At the heart of any retail business is the point of sale system. This software lets you process transactions, manage inventory, and track sales data. With the right POS software, you'll have all the tools you need to manage the cash register, process credit card payments, and track inventory levels in real time. Some of the most popular POS software options on the market today are Square, ShopKeep (now part of Lightspeed), and Lightspeed, but there are hundreds to choose from.

POS Software Benefits: Transaction Speed

One of the key benefits of using POS software is the ability to process transactions quickly and efficiently. With a few clicks of a button, you can process a sale and print out a receipt for your customer. This saves time and reduces the risk of errors, as the software will automatically calculate the total amount due, including any taxes or discounts.

POS Software Benefits: Real-Time Stock Updates

But POS software goes so much further than transactions. It allows you to keep track of your stock levels in real-time, so you always have the right products in stock to meet customer demand. This can help you reduce waste and avoid overstocking, which can tie up valuable resources and lead to unnecessary losses.

POS Software Benefits: Sales Data Tracking

POS software also tracks sales data. Analyzing your sales data means you can gain valuable insights into which products are selling well and which ones aren’t. With this data, you can make informed decisions about which products to stock and which ones to discontinue. You can also use this data to identify trends and adjust your marketing strategies accordingly. Trends change within days, so having this real-time data is priceless in the retail industry.

Other Key Factors when Choosing POS Software

When it comes to choosing POS software, there are many factors to consider. Some of the key factors include the size of your business, the types of products you sell, and your budget. You'll also want to consider the features and functionality of each software option, as well as the level of customer support and training provided by the vendor.

Although some tools come with training, it can be vague and generic, which is why we always recommend working with a dedicated software coach who is familiar with the software you’re looking to implement.

Whether you're a small startup or a large retail chain, there's a POS software option out there that can meet your needs and help you achieve your goals.

2. Inventory Management Software

Keeping track of inventory is usually a major headache for any retailer, especially if you’re still using spreadsheets or physical tracking. Yet, only 18% of small businesses use this type of software.

Inventory management software automates the process to give you greater control over your supply chain. This type of software allows you to track stock levels, monitor sales trends, and even set up automatic reorder alerts when items run low. Whether you're dealing with perishables or non-perishables, inventory management software can help you reduce waste and optimize your sales potential.

Sage Brightpearl is a cloud-based inventory management software that allows you to manage your inventory, orders, and customers from a single platform. With Sage Brightpearl, you can track your stock levels in realtime, set reorder points, and even automate your purchase orders. Brightpearl is a comprehensive retail operating system that integrates with major ecommerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento, making it easy to manage your online sales channels.

Cin7 is another popular inventory management software that offers a wide range of features to help you increase the profits and sales of your retail business. You can manage your inventory across multiple sales channels, including brick-and-mortar stores, ecommerce platforms, and marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. This software also offers advanced reporting and analytics tools, allowing you to track your sales trends and identify opportunities for growth. And, if you’re someone who prefers to get all-in-one solutions instead of integrating many different applications into a best-in-breed system, you will find the Cin7 Core has excellent built-in POS that easily handles the full spectrum of POS use cases and even the most challenging ones – like selling consignment products, or retailing made-to-order personalized products.

Cin7 Omni is a popular cloud-based inventory management software that helps you manage your inventory, orders, and fulfillment from a single platform. It allows you to track your inventory levels, set reorder points, and automate your purchase orders. This software also integrates with all the popular ecommerce platforms like Shopify and Amazon. Cin7 Omni is ideal for businesses requiring many integrations including complex EDI and 3PL custom integrations.

Overall, inventory management software can help you save time, reduce waste, and optimize your sales potential. Whether you're a small boutique business owner or a large retailer, investing in the right inventory management software can help you stay competitive in today's fast-paced market.

3. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software

A thriving retail business is one that places a high value on customer relationships. Customers have hundreds of options to choose from when it comes to shopping online, so it's essential to stand out by offering personalized experiences. CRM software can help you manage and track your customer interactions, keep detailed customer records, and develop targeted marketing campaigns.

According to Finances Online, CRM can boost conversion rates by 300%. While Forrester showed that half of business teams improved their productivity by using a mobile CRM.

CRM Benefits: Customer Purchase Histories

One key benefit of using CRM software is the ability to access individual customer purchase histories, preferences, and feedback. By analyzing this data, you can gain valuable insights into your customers' behavior and tailor your offerings to meet their needs. If a customer frequently purchases a particular product, you can offer them a discount on that item to encourage repeat business. It’s this kind of personalized touch that keeps customers coming back again and again, and with CRM software, it’s quick and easy to set up.

CRM Benefits: Task Automation

Another advantage of CRM software is the ability to automate certain tasks, such as sending follow-up emails or reminders for upcoming appointments. This can save you time and ensure that you don't miss any important interactions with your customers.

The Key to CRM Success

There are many CRM software options available, each with its unique features and benefits. Hubspot offers a free version of its software that includes basic CRM functionality, while Salesforce is known for its robust reporting capabilities. Zoho CRM is another popular option that offers a range of features, including social media integration and lead management.

Ultimately, the key to success with CRM software is to use it consistently and effectively. Make sure to keep your customer data up-to-date and use it to inform your marketing and sales strategies. By putting your customers first and using CRM software to enhance their experience, you can build a loyal customer base and grow your business over time.

To get the most out of any CRM software, we recommend working with a dedicated software coach. They can show you the ropes of your new software, help you get the most out of every single feature, and make sure it implements seamlessly with your existing processes.

4. E-commerce Platform

With the rise of online shopping, it's essential to have an e-commerce platform in place that allows you to sell your products digitally. An e-commerce platform should have all the necessary features to create a user-friendly shopping experience, including optimizing product descriptions, professional-looking photos, secure payment processing, and an easy-to-use shopping cart. Some popular e-commerce platforms include WooCommerce, Shopify, and BigCommerce but there are plenty of options out there for all different kinds of retail brands.

Considerations When Choosing an E-commerce Platform

When choosing an e-commerce platform, it's important to consider the size of your business and the type of products you sell. If you have a small business and only sell a few products, a simple platform like WooCommerce may be the best choice. However, if you have a larger retail business with a wide, complex range of products, you may want to consider a more robust platform like Shopify or BigCommerce.

How much Customization is Needed?

Another important factor to consider when choosing an e-commerce platform is the level of customization it offers. Some platforms allow for extensive customization, while others have more limited options. If you have a specific vision for your online store and want to create a unique shopping experience, you may want to choose a platform that allows for more customization. Customers tend to spot overused shop templates from a mile away.

Ongoing Platform Maintenance

Keep in mind that running an online store requires ongoing maintenance and updates. You'll need to regularly update your product listings, manage your inventory, and ensure that your website is secure and up-to-date. It's also important to provide excellent customer service to ensure that your customers have a positive shopping experience and are more likely to return in the future. This might mean having a chat function to allow customers to reach out to you 24/7 for help and advice.

No matter what kind of retail business you have, an online store will help your business grow significantly. You can reach a wider audience and increase your sales, but it's essential to choose the right platform for your business and think about how it can help you expand and grow in the future.

5. Accounting Software

Accounting tasks can be complex and time-consuming, especially if you’re not great with numbers. But with accounting software, you can simplify the process and maintain accurate financial records automatically. This type of software enables you to keep track of income and expenses, create invoices, and generate reports in less time and with far fewer errors.

A few popular accounting software options for retail businesses, in particular, are Quickbooks, Xero, and FreshBooks. Each has a slightly different platform, so it’s best to speak with a software implementation coach to figure out which is best for your business.

Stay Organized with Accounting Software

One of the main benefits of accounting software is that it can help you stay organized. With the ability to track income and expenses, you can quickly see where your money is going and make informed decisions about your business. If you notice you’re spending more money on advertising than you are bringing in from sales, you can quickly adjust your marketing strategy before you’re in too deep. Without real-time analytics like these, it’s hard to make these quick decisions.

Streamline Processes with Accounting Software

Tired of creating new invoices for every single customer? Accounting software can also help you streamline your invoicing process. With the ability to create and send invoices electronically, you can save time and reduce the risk of errors. Many accounting software options even allow you to set up automatic payment reminders, which can help you get paid faster.

When it comes to generating reports, accounting software can be a game-changer. With just a few clicks, you can generate detailed reports on your income, expenses, and profits. This information can be invaluable when it comes to making financial decisions for your retail business, particularly if you are looking for funding or opportunities to grow.

6. Forecasting and Demand Management Software

The ability to accurately forecast the products your retail business will sell and the right quantities is perhaps the single-most determinant of your profitability. It can also be the most complicated and vexing task – to predict what customers will buy, at what prices, and how many you will sell without offering close-out discounts. Fortunately, a number of great demand planning apps are now available such as StockTrim, Inventoro, Netstock, and others. Each app specializes in solving particularly vexing challenges like seasonality or MRP components included in bills-of-materials (BOMs) of components assembled into one or several finished products. By improving and automating your forecasting and demand planning, you can reduce common errors that lead to high levels of overstock and the corresponding profit-killing discounts needed to dispose of inventory that didn’t sell as forecasted. You can also improve profits by identifying high margin products to focus your marketing and demand generation activities on.

7. Shipping software

Shipping software like ShipStation, Shippo, and ShippingEasy integrates with your e-commerce platform to provide shipping labels, tracking information, and real-time data on package delivery status.

With the ability to manage multiple shipping providers and track shipping costs, shipping software can help you streamline your fulfillment process and reduce shipping errors, not to mention save your staff countless hours.

8. Retail Analytics and Reporting Software

In order to make informed decisions about your business operations, you need access to accurate sales and marketing data. Retail analytics and reporting software enables you to collect data on sales performance, customer behavior, and marketing campaigns.

With the ability to generate custom reports and visualizations, you can identify trends, monitor KPIs, and make data-driven decisions. Some of the most popular retail analytics and reporting software options are currently Tableau, SAP Analytics Cloud, and Looker.

9. Employee Scheduling and Management Software

Managing a retail team can be challenging, but with employee management software, you can simplify scheduling, track time and attendance, and manage payroll. This software enables you to assign shifts, approve time off requests, and generate timesheets.

By automating these HR tasks, you can reduce errors and free up time to focus on growing your business. Having an easy-to-use employee management system also helps keep staff happier since schedules are automated, time off is approved quicker, and shift changes are easy to manage.

If you’re looking for robust employee management software, we recommend Gusto, ADP, and Zenefits.

How software coaches help you build the right software stack

We’ve introduced a lot of software in this article, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed when choosing the right tools to support your retail business needs.

Our software coaches can help guide you through the selection process, identifying the critical software features and integrations that are essential to your business. By working with a software coach, you can develop a customized software stack that aligns with your goals and enhances your business operations. You can skip the learning curve and make sure the software you invest in works, so you never have to go back to old, outdated processes.

By investing in the right software solutions for your retail business, you can streamline operations, enhance customer experiences, and improve your bottom line.

At Coachbar, we connect businesses with the right software consultants for their implementation needs.

Looking to improve inventory management, streamline the checkout process, or boost e-commerce sales, get in touch with Coachbar today and we'll help you choose the most effective retail solutions for your business.


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