You have your accounting software. You have a HR system. You have stock control processes in place. You have the huge beast that is ‘marketing’, and the monster workload and management needed to support it.
There is literally a bottomless pit of software you could implementing across all the aspects of the business, but smaller operators in particular often find themselves having to take a bit of a scatter-gun approach – simply because it takes more time, effort and resources you could ever imagine devoting, in order to research and develop the kind of strategic approach the big players take.
For those players, their software operates like an ecosystem, with each area of the business working together, to maximise efficiency, minimise expenditure and streamline both the internal and consumer-facing components.
But what about your software systems? Can you look at yours as an ecosystem that collectively, could save you time and money, and bolster your sales while they’re at it?
You can’t run a business off one piece of software, but they need to work together if you’re going to find efficiencies in your business, and with constantly-improving cloud-based solutions, this has never been more accessible to small and medium-sized retailers – you just need to know where to start.
We have recently taken part in a video Q&A with a specialist cloud integrator for the retail, wholesale and hospitality industry – SMB Consultants.
The team at SMB told me they started the business with very tech-heavy staff, but decided to bring in-house more hospitality and retail workers who have been able to translate their experiences to the businesses they’re now helping transform.
One of the biggest challenges their team and other professionals in this space are seeing is that a great deal you are able to go out and research a lot of the otions, but it’s difficult to work out which ones are really right for you until you’ve used them for some time – especially as your businesses are evolving so quickly, alongside the changing consumer environment.
Australian consumers have spent more than $26.08 billion over the 12 months to May 2018. While the figures do vary, Australia Post has estimated the e-commerce component is growing at around 18 per cent, whereas physical shopping is growing at just 2.5 per cent.
And that means all retailers are juggling far more than they’ve ever done before in terms of software, resourcing, HR, leasing, shipping, speed and fulfilment, stock management, omni-channel marketing and commerce – the list goes on. But they’re going to have to keep stepping it up further, and across more channels than ever before, as the e-commerce component becomes even greater.
But because retailers are juggling so many tasks, are under-resourced even at the best of times, and have constant cash-flow challenges to work with, we know it’s very difficult to move away from something you’re comfortable with.
But it is in this growing macro setting where things can all start to go a little awry, if your systems are not sophisticated enough, or implemented well enough, to operate as an ecosystem.
Cloud technology lends itself as a very modular and accessible approach so you can take the process in a very staged and pragmatic way, without investing a huge sum into something that may not deliver on your expectations.
It’s the first time that consultants in this space, like SMB, have been able to collate and refine the entire cloud-based offerings, based on solving the recurring small business problems, reconciling the overwhelming number of tasks you’re all having to juggle, and creating a system of sophistication that brings a‘big retailer’ approach to SMEs.
Taking you to a new level of speed and efficiency entails precisely the opposite –taking things down a notch to get to know your business the old-fashioned way – starting with the people behind it.
This allows retailers to apply the resources you have and make sure it’s working correctly for you, before moving onto the next thing.
An integrated cloud-based approach may start with something as simple as determining how to keep what is useful but then setting it all up to work at its maximum potential, before potentially retraining the staff, so they can use it in the most effective way, and then moving on to setting up a broader account, where you can try before you buy.
Having a sandbox approach is so useful for people to get in there and experience different user interfaces – some people are colour-driven, some like graphs, some like numbers, or they want their tools to be able to do all of the things they used to be able to do well, and all of the new things they want it to do.
As you proceed to the next step (and when you’re saving money and time, it’s likely you just might), then you do so at your own pace, so everyone in the business can keep step.
Join the conversation
If you’d like to find out more about cloud-based solutions for your business, we’d love to hear from you!