How smaller retailers can be as efficient as major chains, on a budget
It’s well-established that efficiency gains can be realized through expanding a business operation, with these economies of scale placing small and medium businesses (SMBs) under considerable pressure when attempting to remain competitive with larger players.
This is a challenge that also presents opportunities, however, as there is a lot of ‘potential energy’ from being so high up the viability curve. SMBs can take advantage of easy wins that, when matched with their greater agility and smaller overheads, allow them to outcompete multinational conglomerates in certain niches.
SMBs might be daunted by looking at the client-facing methods by which larger retailers gain efficiency: automatic queue management, self-checkout & self-service, alongside large e-commerce platforms with Click&Collect. These are solutions that don’t necessarily fit with SMB requirements, technical capabilities or budgets. But these solutions aren’t where the big gains stem from. Instead, significant improvements in efficiency can be achieved by better inventory management that helps avoid waste, while easy-to-use and versatile POS software, alongside access to a trustworthy centralized reporting system and a locally relevant loyalty program can drive significant benefits. Loyalty, beyond its obvious intended purpose, can be a way to save time by centrally managing policies that can be instantly deployed across multiple locations. As a result, a coffee chain could, for instance, stop printing cardboard “buy 4 get 1 free” cards and simply offer this discount via an app. This simplification can go further – why not free up employees’ time by placing QR codes on tables for customers to place orders? These can create receipts and send the order to your barista, saving the time they would otherwise spend taking the order and sparing the customer the need to queue. Better yet, if you use automatic espresso machines, why not integrate these with the order list so the device can start brewing as soon as payment is confirmed. It’s even possible to then let the customer know that their order is ready to collect via WhatsApp by using AI.
Yes, some of these solutions might require an initial investment, but most of them are now accessible as a service at relatively affordable prices. Some retailers might wonder why they’d invest in giving staff more free time, but that’s the wrong way of looking at things. Retailers don’t pay staff to wait for POS transactions to go through, or to search the stock room for items which aren’t there or to think about what return policy might apply for a product. Investing in solutions that free up employee time not only improves their job satisfaction but also enables them to contribute more effectively in other areas, whether that’s advising customers or ensuring stock is displayed attractively.
From implementing POS software and configuring your reporting and loyalty program, to automating order fulfillment processes, we can help you deploy and get the most out of these solutions. You don’t need to be a multinational company to access these innovations. You simply need to dare make the unthinkable possible.