Managing a brick-and-mortar retail operation in the digital age of online shopping is a challenging endeavour of balancing razor-thin margins and changing consumer expectations. Ensuring profitability then, is only achievable if you leave nothing to chance.
We asked our Service Delivery Manager, Gregg Bithrey, what he believed to be the most important areas to focus on, in order to ensure the profitability that keeps retail operations afloat.
We’ve expanded on his insightful answers here.
1. “Maximum utilisation of the retail floor space”
With efficient warehouse-based replenishment, in-store stockrooms in malls and the like can be eliminated. This ensures that more floor space can be dedicated to putting your stock in front of your customers.
In order for this approach to work however, the process of restocking the shelves must be optimised. In this day-and-age, maximum efficiency means minimising room for human error. With new technology, backed by insights of the market, many processes can be automated, leveraging experience of seasonal trends and an understanding of your customer base to ensure a more effective and enhanced customer experience.
Check out the advanced POS systems and software with which UCS TS provides solutions to the South African retail sector.
2. “Technology-based staff manager”
With time-tracking and clocking systems, your retail operation can make more efficient use of available staff, and identify where your employees’ inefficiencies might be negatively impacting profits.
Employees are the lifeblood of a retail store – serving customers and monitoring the daily goings-on of your business – and so their effective (or ineffective) utilisation can be felt in every area of your operation, from customer satisfaction to timeous restocking of the shelves.
3. “Efficient systems reducing headcount required to run a store”
Technology can ease the burden of operating costs through better scheduling and budget management, based on data accrued in real-time, and through the automation of repetitive, but integral, business functions.
A data-driven approach to scheduling and budget management becomes especially important when you have multiple stores that must be managed. Gathering and analysing data allows you to better predict exactly how many employees, POSsessing what skill sets, you need in any store at any given time, without overworking or underutilising any individual.
With more business functions – such as stocktake and ordering – being automated, your employees can turn more of their focus toward customer interaction.
4. “Fraud-proof systems”
POS fraud can be a significant source of profit loss.
Whether ringing up void sales, failing to ring up a sale at all or falsifying returns, dishonest employees and even customers can undermine your business unless you take steps to prevent these behaviours.
Follow best practice and introduce fraud-proof systems with password protections and account verifications to mitigate the risk of employee fraud. With POS systems developed specifically with the unique needs of the retailer in mind, monitoring transactions in real-time, suspicious activity can be recorded and reported as it happens.
5. “Stable in-store infrastructure to reduce the possibility of customer frustration”
The modern customer puts a premium on convenience.
This is especially true when it comes to POS and EFT, and so your store will lose business if the transaction process is unreliable or if it fails to offer payment options customers expect.
6. “Key suppliers for best price and availability of stock”
Vet your suppliers fastidiously and never stop looking for better options.
Passing the cost of overpriced stock onto the customer is a good way to be remembered badly. On the other hand, absorbing that cost yourself will further narrow already thin profit margins. In addition, an unreliable source of products will mean frustrating your customers with fluctuating availability, earning your store a reputation for unreliability that will see your customer base choosing to shop elsewhere.
For these reasons and others, selection of suppliers is one of the most important decisions you can make to ensure that your retail operation retains profitability.
Experienced in the South African retail sector, UCS Technology Services develops retail software and POS systems that maximise operational efficiency. We believe that data is the key to modern retail success, and our business information services division is at the forefront of developing innovative applications for the fuel, healthcare and services industries.
Contact UCS TS today, and optimise your retail operations.