Retail operations are closely connected to the business’s profitability and working on improving its efficiency is an ongoing task.
The thing is, retailers operate on very thin profit margins that are based on the difference between supplier prices and sale prices (operating costs also need to be included).
There is an additional strain on the margin with suppliers raising prices to ensure their own profit on one side, and customers demanding lower prices on the other.
So it is necessary to exploit these margins to their full potential, while also keeping customers and suppliers satisfied.
That is a lot for a person to handle, isn’t it?
In order to keep up and be on top of things at all times, maneuvering the tight niche in which retailers can make a profit, there are technologies that can help.
Technology to the rescue
We live in the age of modern technology. Both customers and business owners rely on it to make their lives easier, purchases faster, and companies more efficient.
Especially today, with the epidemic of COVID-19 changing the world around us, reliance on technology turned from a convenience into a necessity.
In that same manner, there is an opportunity for retail operations to take full advantage of everything that technology can offer. It can increase their profit, expand their pool of customers, and adapt to the future needs of the industry.
The retail environment itself is chaotic, to say the least, and its inventory has to be in order. Just one product tends to change so many hands that having a good inventory strategy is paramount to keep track.
It is even more of a challenging task to coordinate both in-store and online inventory records. And that might be the most important part. Having a product in stock online and not actually having it in-store is a good way to lose a customer.
The company’s success relies on a positive customer experience.
Having the importance of that experience in mind, investing in an analytics package can be a move that brings clarity to a hectic world of retail.
In the highly-competitive world of retail, it is not enough to cater to customer’s current needs but to be able to predict future ones with some accuracy.
For exactly that purpose forecasting systems are created and are being updated constantly.
These systems are developed in order to collect and calculate information on past sales, orders, and interests to get ahead of future demand.
Proper forecasting strategies are a crucial part of improving retail operations. It optimizes customer and supplier relationship management, while also running logistics and smart marketing campaigns.
Experience with the global pandemic of COVID-19 in the past year showed that some changes in retail operations, as well as shopping habits, have to be made.
A self-checkout reduces the amount of time the customer has to wait to purchase a product but also minimizes human-to-human contact.
It is designed to reduce errors while being equipped with all the necessary information and instructions (and even greetings).
Self-checkout provides quick and easy service, a much-wanted option for your average consumer.
Some systems are even offering a checkout-free experience that makes standing in line a thing of the past.
Constant advances in science and technology can undoubtedly improve certain aspects of the retail business.
The fascinating field of robotics is finding one of its real industry applications in retail. These autonomous machines are transforming various areas of retail such as:
- accessible information for costumers
- collecting and researching important data
- handling inventory, etc.
On one hand, it could automatize the process and boost productivity in certain areas, providing a contactless environment (minimizing further spreading of coronavirus for example). On the other hand, this means fewer jobs in the economy that is already proven unequipped for this type of (global epidemic) situation, costing a lot of people their jobs, wages, and working hours.
However, that could be turned into a positive thing by shifting the role of employees (from a physical-labor-oriented job to a supervisory one) or creating more job positions in other sectors of the industry.
Other than restructuring job positions to integrate new employees, there are some other challenges that the retail business will encounter.
For starters, there is always progress and new development being made in the field of technology and that means retailers will have to keep up.
There is a constant need for more, a faster system, better tech, newer models, etc. That way the competition becomes more intense and the expenses rise.
It also has to be evaluated and implemented properly, which means hiring and paying experts to do it.
The integration of new technology into the company is a serious, long term commitment, but the one that could make your business more profitable and productive, customers happier, and employees’ jobs easier.