Ultimate Guide to Retail Software Solutions

Retail-software-ultimate-guide

In the digital age, retail stores have to deliver exceptional customer experiences to remain competitive. It’s essential to manage all store processes and automate numerous manual operations effectively.

What they need is retail software that provides store staff with powerful tools to run operations seamlessly and complete tasks on time.

Why Is Retail Software Beneficial

The retail industry is undergoing considerable changes under the influence of consumer behavior shift. In essence, people are becoming increasingly impatient:

  • 87% of shoppers leave the store if an item is unavailable and there is no assistant nearby.
  • 30% of customers wait no more than two minutes to determine whether an item they want to buy is in stock.
  • 78% of buyers would not use a retailer again after three late or incomplete deliveries.

Hence, brick-and-mortar stores must undergo a technological shift to keep pace with competitors and attract loyal clients.

Developing retail software is the right decision for companies of different sizes. Such software can integrate with any retail business; it is scalable and can meet the needs of both a single shop and a retail chain consisting of hundreds of points of sale (POS).

Benefits of retail solutions for business:

  • Automation — you can automate store tasks such as inventory auditing, pricing regulation, billing, reporting, payroll records, returns processing, etc.
  • Real-time visibility — systems allow you to control warehouses and shop floors in online mode, quickly identify whether certain items are in or out of stock, send instant alerts if something is out of order, and help avoid downtime.
  • Improved customer service — employees can spend more time engaging with customers whilе the system performs other tasks automatically.
Read also: Intelligent Automation and Its Application across Industries

Retail software can be on-premise and cloud-based.

On-premise solutions are installed on computers or retailers’ local servers. In this case, you’ll need IT specialists to maintain the system, handle updates and fix issues.

When you use cloud-based retail software or Software as a Service, you don’t need to install it on your hardware. All you need is an internet connection. SaaS solutions are managed automatically by providers.

General features and capabilities of retail software include the management of products, orders, inventory, supply chain, financial transactions, marketing campaigns, human resources and customer relations.

Retail-software-capabilities

The implementation of software for retail stores results in improved operational efficiency and quality of services; it saves much time and money, increases conversion rates and leads to enhanced customer satisfaction.

Types of Retail Software Solutions

Retail software comprises various digital solutions that enable retailers to manage and automate in-store and out-of-store processes. Such solutions can offer general functionality for the retail sector or industry-specific features such as software for supermarkets, clothing stores, etc.

1. Payment Processing Software

This type of retail software connects stores with banks and payment systems. Its functions include:

  • credit card processing and online payments
  • secure storage of customer payment records
  • customizable invoice creation
  • creation of reports about all transactions and their statuses
  • bank reconciliation.

2. Inventory Management Software

Inventory software systems control warehouse stocks and automate some processes. Here are some examples:

  • Automatic synchronization of stock with orders allows for instant updating of inventories and enables informed supply chain decision-making.
  • Automatic invoicing saves much time and makes price formation and revenue transparent.
  • Automatic report generation provides real-time insights for planning the procurement, optimizing stock and making sales predictions.
  • Automatic expiry tracking eliminates issues of delivering goods of inferior quality to end users, thus increasing customer satisfaction.

Retail inventory management software can integrate with barcode scanning, RFID and tracking technologies.

3. Point of Sale (POS) Software

Retail POS systems consist of hardware (tablets, computers, cash registers, barcode scanners) and software and are implemented in brick-and-mortar stores to conduct sales on the spot.

Point of sale solutions unify functions such as financial processing, inventory control, the management of discounts, layaways and returns.

The categories of point of sales software depend on the hardware it runs on:

  • Mobile POS solutions allow for moving around and performing transactions on the go. They usually run on smartphones and tablets and can be used by couriers.
  • Desktop POS systems are installed on computers in stores. Typically, they are more powerful and comprehensive.
  • Self-service kiosks are the type of POS solutions highly popular in fast-food restaurants. They enable clients to make orders and pay for them without cashier assistance. Such solutions reduce wait time, eliminate lines and can increase the average check size.
Read also: Customer Experience vs. E-Commerce — Comparison and Striking Examples

4. Retail Management Software

These are comprehensive digital platforms for retailers that integrate a set of tools to manage business activities.

A single retail management solution provides multiple services, such as:

  • inventory management
  • invoicing and billing
  • customer relationship management (CRM)
  • marketing management
  • stock verification
  • data analysis and report generation.

Implementing retail store management software, business owners automate numerous processes and get a single source of truth that delivers transparent and relevant information about finance, products and customers.

5. Retail ERP Systems

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is applicable in numerous industries, including retail. Such systems integrate modules for controlling all stages of business.

  • The customer management module collects customer data (gender, age, location, search and purchase history, etc.) to improve marketing campaigns and plan sales strategies.
  • The employee management module controls human resources and organizes internal communication.
  • The financial resource management module deals with money flows and commercial transactions.
  • The supply chain module supports the balance between orders and warehouses.
  • The product management module categorizes products by various criteria and controls their lifecycle, including expiry dates.

As a rule, ERP solutions are customizable, so retailers can integrate them with third-party systems or develop specific modules depending on their needs.

6. E-Commerce Platforms

The demand for selling products and services online is growing and many retailers have to be involved in the e-Commerce industry. That’s why online retail platforms are becoming a must.

Critical features of e-Commerce solutions include:

  • product catalog
  • search options and filters
  • shopping cart
  • checkout
  • payment processing
  • inventory management
  • marketing management
  • customer management

Sitecore Experience Commerce (XC) is an excellent example of an e-Commerce platform.

7. Omnichannel Retail Platforms

Due to the growing number of devices people use as purchasing channels, omnichannel commerce has become the top priority for the retail industry.

Omnichannel retail systems are digital commerce solutions focusing on both online and offline sales. They provide synchronization and traceability across all touchpoints, be it a website, a mobile application, or a real store.

The best example of an omnichannel platform for B2B and B2C businesses is SAP Commerce Cloud. It offers a full range of commerce services, including product and order management, customer support, and content personalization, which are delivered to all integrated touchpoints.

What is more, SAP provides a headless commerce approach, which is highly beneficial for retailers as it ensures scalability, customization and improved data protection.

Five Steps to Creating Software for Retail

Have you realized that this type of solution can simplify your business? If so, it’s about time you learn how to make software for retail.

1. Choosing the Right Vendor

Selecting a suitable software provider is a critical and challenging task. Take the time to make your choice carefully. Your choice determines how smooth the implementation will be and how positively a future system will impact your business performance.

The main recommendation is to opt for vendors that cater specifically to the retail market, because:

  • you will need minimal software customization;
  • you will get a ready-to-use database, while databases for other industries differ significantly and they must be reshaped or developed from scratch;
  • your vendor will speak the same language as you, eliminating numerous misunderstandings;
  • you will be able to obtain valid references from peer companies and learn from their experience.

Another point is to choose between cloud and on-premise hosting. Since the system can be deployed anywhere, you should be guided by your company’s needs and budget.

The largest providers of software for the retail industry are SAP, Magento and Sitecore.

Read also: An Efficient E-Commerce Platform: Why Does Your Business Need It?

2. Planning and Budgeting

The next step is to discuss the key features your system should include and create a detailed plan. Consider whether you need an omnichannel solution, what functions it should perform, and what third-party systems you would like to integrate.

With this in mind, you can either choose an out-of-the-box solution or decide on custom development.

Your vision of the future solution should coincide with the budget at your disposal. The planning stage may take from two to five weeks.

3. Development and Implementation

It’s clear that custom development takes much more time than the implementation of ready-made solutions.

In any case, your company will undergo significant changes during the implementation process, both technical and cultural. Hence, it is essential to:

  • assemble an internal team of professional specialists with appropriate expertise who will participate in the implementation;
  • prepare the staff for the new system, explain its benefits and provide necessary training;
  • perform data cleansing (make determinations concerning documents and other items in your legacy system; eliminate inactive accounts and records that have not been processed for years to simplify the migration).

Depending on company circumstances, this stage takes from a couple of months to more than a year.

4. Testing

The management system is sophisticated and requires control and testing. Most companies adhere to continuous testing so that the process will happen simultaneously with the integration.

Get prepared to address numerous issues and make adjustments. The main goal of the final testing is to simulate the lifecycle of your business with go-live processes.

5. Maintenance

A successfully implemented system needs further support and maintenance. This can be provided by the software provider or by your technical specialists.

How Much Does It Cost?

Finally, we have come to the most exciting question: “How much does it cost to build retail software for business?” Nobody can give you a precise answer since the cost depends on many factors:

  • The size of the company (number of users, departments, offices)
  • The number of needed functions and applications
  • Hosting type
  • Customization level
  • Required resources (consulting, staff training, etc.)
  • License fees

The table below can give you a general idea of retail management software costs depending on company size.

Retail-software-cost

There are general rules concerning software system costs:

  • The bigger the company, the higher the cost.
  • The software itself costs less than spending on human resources (employees, consultants, etc.)
  • The cost of initial implementation is less than the cost of further maintenance.

We can put the expenses into a formula:

retail-software-cost-components

Every vendor provides their pricing policy by request, including additional expenses that may arise. However, they can calculate the total cost only when they complete the project.

Turning into Digital Retailers

Retail software development is among the core competencies of SaM Solutions. With extensive experience in developing retail and e-Commerce systems, our company can become your reliable partner and make you the front-runner of the retail industry.

If you need retail store management software or just want to learn more about our expertise, please fill out the contact form to get a consultation.

 

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About the author

Natallia Sakovich
Natallia Sakovich

A copywriter at SaM Solutions, Natallia is devoted to her motto — to write simply and clearly about complicated things. Backed up with a 5-year experience in copywriting, she creates informative but exciting articles on high technologies.