Donna Torres, director of small business at Xero, explains why it is important for mobility retailers to have modern systems and offers advice to businesses who are anxious about making the jump.
How important is it for a modern retail business to have up-to-date systems? What are the pitfalls of remaining paper-based or on an old-fashioned system?
“With e-commerce, business never stops, particularly if you have an international customer base. To operate around the clock, it’s important to have the latest cloud based digital systems to enable better financial management, from expenses tracking and payroll processing to tax filing.
“Any retailer must also be able to respond to multi-channel retail, mobile shoppers and business flexibility, adapting their offer with the needs of their customers. For this, you need the latest digital technology.
“Paper based systems can be laborious and inefficient, resulting in costly filing mistakes, and hinder transacting with customers on the move. According to our own analysis, we found that of those businesses that survived, over half used software to manage their finances.
“Filing mistakes arising from paper and old technology costs HMRC up to £9 billion a year, which adds another pitfall. If you remain paper based or deploy old fashioned technology and make over £85k a year in taxable turner you could fall foul of Making Tax Digital legislation and face fines come tax filing time.”
What kinds of benefits can your products bring to aid the smooth running of a business?
“Xero is a cloud accounting platform which enables small businesses to do their accounts simply and affordably. It’s available on a desktop or mobile and provides easy access to business bank accounts to get a real-time view of cash flow.
“Popular features include: fast bank reconciliation; inventory items; combined payroll and accounting software; simpler invoicing; bill paying; expenses; purchase order creation; and compliance with the latest digital tax ruling.”
What are the potential challenges or limitations associated with rolling out new systems across an estate of shops? Should businesses expect some disruption?
“Adapting legacy systems can be time-consuming and cause disruption. Order management systems, dispatch systems and tracking systems can streamline the customers buying journey. Equally, they can harm the customer experience if not properly integrated.
“You want the same system across an estate of shops. Cloud technology is great for businesses operating on the move. With the cloud you’re not restricted to a single location – you can access your data wherever you are, logging into any store to get real-time data for your entire retail estate.”
What would your message be to businesses reluctant to take the leap or who are anxious about changing their tried and tested retail systems?
“Adopting the latest technology can seem daunting, but the best technology is relatively simple to implement, and its benefits far out way the fear of getting used to something new.
“The latest cloud-based technology enables you to scale up your data processing capacity in accordance with your growth – so you remain in control.
“Cloud technology also offers a safer form of data storage than a centralised server. Imagine if you had one bank with all your money in one place, you’re especially vulnerable if that bank is raided. Cloud based data storage by comparison stores your businesses data in small amounts across a distributed server system. Your eggs are never in one basket meaning you can do business with confidence. Implementation of new retail technology is ultimately the only way to keep up with rising customer expectations and changing buying habits.”