Whether you are an individual shop or a large chain of outlets, the prospect of overhauling your retail or stock control systems can be daunting. Here, experts in the field offer their advice on how best to implement methods and explain why making the jump could be the best business decision you make this year.
While some smaller mobility retailers are still paper-based, the majority of the market’s dealers see the benefits of upgrading their systems to ensure their business can run smoothly and efficiently. In fact, for many, having the latest software and processes is critical for survival in today’s ruthless retail climate.
Some companies, the likes of Lifestyle & Mobility and Easy Living Mobility, have largely led the industry on advance retail systems and are reaping the benefits of investing in efficient and accurate products. However, there are plenty of retailers in the sector who are yet to learn the importance of up-to-date systems in favour of old fashioned, paper-based counterparts.
One company offering its hand to mobility retailers unsure of how to embrace the future in point of sale (POS) solutions is Langley Foxall, which has worked with a number of industry dealers on bespoke systems. Business development manager Anthony Fowler says that having an up-to-date system has proven to be a “vital part” for modern retail businesses allowing them to reach their full potential and continue to grow and develop.
“The security benefits alone that come with custom software makes a huge difference, especially since GDPR came into play. Not only that but as technology progresses and updates, processes alter to increase the efficiency so you could be harming your productivity levels with outdated software. By remaining with your existing software or paper-based systems you risk poor security and profitability, lowering efficiency, and as a result, productivity levels with heightened frustrations from both users and management.”
Abdulwahab Al Refai, founder of Cybersys POS, notes that when starting a business there are a lot of decisions that have to be made, which can be stressful for the owner. To help things run as smoothly as possible, Al Refai says that making sure you have a reliable and insightful POS system is important.
He comments: “You will be using a system to track all parts of your business. Nowadays the old-fashioned paper-based systems are against law in many countries due to inaccuracy and efficiency. Digital receipts are accurate, essential and much more professional. You also need to make sure your inventory is accurate, sales tax is calculated correctly and items are priced correctly. No matter which system you choose it is important that it meets your needs.”
When choosing a system for your business, Al Refai says, owners should consider a number of key things. Firstly is whether the system has good reviews. Just like when buying a product on Amazon, you want to make sure other people have used the system with success, Al Refai says.
A quick Google search is a good start. You will want to make sure the reviews you are reading are from a reputable source for software and not just on the provider’s website. The next question you want to ask yourself is, is the product well supported? You will want to make sure if you get stuck you have quick help.
Other considerations are whether it has all the unique features your business needs, whether the system runs in the cloud or is standalone and whether it meets your budget and can grow with your business? Al Refai asks: “Your business is unique and you want to make sure you have all the features you need. Do you have store accounts or process layaways? Do you need integrated credit card processing? Do you want to have an online store?
“You should have a list of all the features that you want and make sure the POS can meet these needs for you. Many systems these days run in the cloud. The cloud is just a fancy way of saying on a company’s servers. This means the software is not installed on your computer which allows access from anywhere with an internet connection. This is very useful for companies as you can check into the system from anywhere and makes it super easy for mobile sales.
“And last but not least. Does the software fit in my budget and will it grow with me as my business grows? You should look for a fairly priced model that works for your business. As you expand you don’t want the costs to rocket; but you want to make sure the system can work when you add another register or another physical location.”
If budgets allow, custom pieces of software can offer a multitude of benefits for a business’s unique processes and arguably more importantly, its users, Fowler says. A custom system allows firms to easily manage processes and monitor job progression and stock control. A new system can also contribute to improved security. He explains that this also means you have fewer data silos, readily available support options and bug fixes as well as a reliable code base with a fast platform for minimal holdbacks when completing your day-to-day tasks.
Naturally, businesses both large and small may be cautious over the potential disruption and setbacks posed by rolling out a new system across a portfolio of stores. Al Refai says that the sooner a business implements a system the better it will be for the company. He advises that firms at the start-up stage should implement a good POS system early on to ensure as little disruption as possible.
Fowler cedes that transitions to a custom built software solution will invariably cause disruption in the operation of a business, particularly across multiple sites. He says that systems should be “tested religiously to weed out any bugs” prior to being rolled out.
“The focus should be primarily on the user base. In our experience, the majority of employees don’t like change so you need to get them on-board early. To get users on board, businesses must look at the scoping and development approach taken by the software company they commission, this is arguably one of the most important factors when selecting a software company.”
For all the evident benefits of adopting a new retail software or POS system, there is no doubt that some individuals will still be apprehensive about taking the leap and changing their tried and tested methods. Al Refai admits that most businesses have doubts about having a new POS system installed.
He says that before narrowing down your list of providers it is important to decide if you want to choose a cloud-based solution or an in-house system. His belief is that as long as a business has a solution suited specifically to its needs, there is very little to worry about when taking on a new POS system.
Fowler says that the benefits a bespoke system can bring to companies are “phenomenal” but notes that it is understandable there are reservations when investing in something that is not considered a physical product upon purchase.
He concludes: “Having said that, if you commission the right software development company they will put you at ease straight away with your reservations and take on a partnership type role to utilise your expertise in your business and their expertise in the software itself to develop a system that will get you ROI and improve your processes significantly. Providing you have good communication with the development company throughout, then the disruption through deployment will be minimal with the system being built to suit the users and the business processes.”
Most forward-thinking mobility distributors are already moving to keep their systems up-to-date. But for the few who are lagging behind or have not updated theirs in a long while, there is a huge opportunity to improve processes, efficiencies and customer experience.
It is clear that software and POS providers should be selected carefully and according to individual needs to minimise teething problems and maximise ROI. For those who take the leap however, they are armouring themselves in an increasingly challenging retail environment that requires constant innovation and investment.