6 Tips to get your retail store digitally fit for the new financial year (+1 bonus tip)
There’s no way around it: the end of the financial year (EOFY) is a busy time for all businesses. Even if you outsource your tax accounting, you still need to collate all your records for the accountant, conduct stocktakes, review your finances and insurances, and update your business and marketing plans in preparation for next year.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the details of your financial health, but have you given the same level of attention to other aspects of your retail store’s health and digital fitness?
- Are your customer relationships thriving?
- Is managing your business a low-stress job?
- Do the systems you’ve implemented help you, or cause headaches?
- Are you ready to seize opportunities in the new financial year?
If you haven’t answered “yes” to all of these questions, then you’re probably in need of a digital health check. This term is often (mis)used to describe a quick check over your website load times, social media engagement and SEO rankings. Those things are important, but a real digital health check is much more thorough. It looks at how you use digital technologies in every aspect of your business operations, and highlights opportunities to create a big impact from relatively small changes.
A digital health check is ultimately focused on finding ways to give your customers the best possible experience while setting you up for success—and here are a few of our favourites.
1. Deliver a consistently great customer experience
Customers should be at the centre of all your business decisions, because they’re the reason your retail store exists. To serve them effectively, you need to know what they want, so start by defining your ideal customers and mapping their customer journeys, using the information you have from your sales and marketing platforms. Consider:
- the products they’ll want
- the sales channels they’ll use
- the advice and information they need
- the after-sales care you can offer.
Once you’ve created your customer journey map, you can use it as a guideline for testing your online store’s usability. It’s also helpful for assessing the suitability of other systems you use to support your end-to-end processes, such as inventory management platforms, CRM tools, and corporate style guides.
2. Make it easy for customers to shop with you
The easier it is for customers to find your store and locate specific items, the more likely they are to buy. This is true across all your sales channels, and it’s one spot where a traditional digital marketing audit is very helpful in determining how effectively your website is helping customers find you. If you’ve chosen a good retail platform for your website, you should pass with flying colours.
It should be evident that the more sales channels you’ve got, the more opportunities your customers have to buy. You might like to try new channels, or reconsider some you’ve previously decided against, especially if your business is growing or you’ve started selling new product categories. Ask yourself:
- Is it the right time to open up a new retail outlet—a traditional bricks-and-mortar stores, a showroom, or a pop-up shop?
- Does your online store need a design refresh to suit current tastes and to best convert website visitors?
- Are you reaching the 39% of online shoppers who buy exclusively through a marketplace like eBay or Amazon?
- Do you have the kind of profile or repeat business that would suit a branded mobile shopping app?
Of course, the trick is to add new channels and payment methods in a way that’s simple to manage—something that’s much easier if you’ve chosen an omni-channel sales platform, like Neto.
3. Offer convenient payment options
Customers find it immensely frustrating to arrive at the online or in-store checkout only to discover you don’t accept their preferred payment method. It’s also bad for business, especially when customers can quickly investigate other options and buy elsewhere. So it’s in your best interest to offer a variety of payment options through different gateways and third-party payment processors such as eWay, Stripe, Braintree and PayPal. You can sweeten the deal even further for your customer by offering buy now, pay later options like ZipPay and Afterpay.
4. Optimise your order fulfilment strategy
Once upon a time, this meant negotiating better deals from your shipping providers, but digital technology has opened up new, efficient fulfilment strategies that transcend traditional sales channels and shipping methods. Retailers can now minimise delivery costs and help customers get greater value for money by using an ecommerce platform that offers:
- real time shipping quotes for a variety of carriers
- automated selection of the cheapest shipping option
- integrated pick, pack and consignment printing
- click-and-collect sales handled through retail stores or the warehouse
- drop-shipping and third-party logistics.
5. Manage your inventory the smart way
You’ll be conducting a stocktake for EOFY anyway, so now is the perfect time to reconsider your inventory management procedures. A full-featured inventory management system will sync levels across all your sales channels as you receive and sell stock, regardless of the number of retail or warehouse locations you’re using. That means you’ll always know how much stock you’re holding, where—and so will your accounting platform. Demand forecasting and low stock reports ensure you’ll never run out. And you’ll be well-equipped to handle the next EOFY, with printed sheets or tablet-based stocktaking.
6. Automate every process you can
Many of the administrative tasks associated with running a retail business are time-consuming (and not all that fun)—but they’re essential. One of the best ways to reduce this workload and free up more time for business development is to automate as many processes as you can, making use of integrations between the different platforms you use. The specific automations you’ll be able to access will depend upon the specific platforms you’ve chosen, but ideally you should be able to automate
- sending emails when customer orders are received, sent, or delivered
- posting transactions and customer details to your accounting platform
- website analytics and social media monitoring
- shipping labels and/or consignment details.
Bonus tip: keep up-to-date with the latest tech
Technology is evolving at a rapid pace and cloud technology means vendors can roll out changes at the click of a button. If you want to to be among the first to know when new features are released, make sure you subscribe to product updates from your vendors. It’s also a good idea to keep track of general trends in the market.
Taking the above steps to ensure your business is digitally fit will position you for success in the new financial year (and ensure that the next EOFY is easier to prepare for). These are just a few ways you can improve your business processes by leveraging the latest retail technologies.
Neto is the only Australian retail management platform that provides a complete solution for ecommerce, Point of Sale, Inventory and Fulfillment. Our integrated back-end technology enables exceptional and consistent customer experiences via any channel, be it in store, online or through a marketplace. We automate repetitive tasks and integrate with multiple sales channels to manage orders and shipments. Set your store up for success in the new financial year—start your free trial.