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How to use technology to beat the retail rush

There’s no doubt about it, technology is changing both the way consumers shop and the way brick and mortar retailers attract new customers.

Wrapping your head around all the tools on the market can be an intimidating process. But the end verdict is this: technology will improve the way you’re able to manage all aspects of your business, especially during busy retail rush seasons such as the holidays and back to school.

To get started, here are a few key “how to” tips to help launch your business down the track of technology-enabled success. You’ll be beating the business rush before you know it.

Offer In-Store Only Deals – Online

With trends indicating that e-commerce is on the rise, brick and mortar stores will have to offer a special incentive to customers who buy in-store. And what better way to advertise these deals than when people are scouring the web and compiling their shopping lists?

A survey conducted called American Lifestyles in 2015 shows that 70 per cent of people will research products, prices, and retailers online before making a purchase. That is a market segment that brick and mortar retailers must tap into. By running intelligent online marketing campaigns that incorporate video and photo, retailers can offer deals to customers who follow through and turn their web research into in-store purchases.

Another way retailers can use technology is to entice loyal customers through an email blast or social media promotion. By targeting customers through their favourite platforms, you can offer special deals and incentives to them — so long as they come into your store to get them.

Equip Your Restaurant With Tablets

The technology benefit isn’t just for brick and mortar retail locations. Food businesses can reap the rewards wrought by technology, too.

If you’ve been to a major airport lately you’ve probably noticed restaurant tables and bar areas accessorised with an unexpected piece of technology: tablets. Tablet technology can dramatically increase server efficiency and profit margin — plus it looks cool and hip for hungry customers.

Here’s how it works: diners use the tablet at their table to submit their food order, freeing servers to better deliver completed dishes and answer customer questions. Overall workflow is increased and a restaurant becomes better equipped to deal with a rush of clients. Impatient customers will also revel in the ability to play games or search the Internet while they wait for their food.

Tablets can also work wonders in terms of providing restaurant staff with valuable information that will translate to a better overall customer experience. For example, servers can use tablets to look up additional information about a specific menu item, or show a diner what the dish they ordered will look like. Once a customer selects a dish, their request gets sent to another tablet in the kitchen where chefs can easily decipher orders and use the tablets to access recipes and instructional videos.

Upgrade Your Point of Sale System

Does your POS system make you and your staff want to tear your hair out? An effective POS system should simplify your life and make the buying process much more efficient — something that’s incredibly important on rush days when you may have lines snaking around the store. If you’re still using an outdated POS system, stop.

Don’t balk at the price of buying speciality tech tools for your counters. The reality is that buying tablets and a POS system for those devices is often cheaper than a speciality POS system. And unlike a clunky POS that might only have one use, tablets can be used for various functions in your business, and have much higher resale value after the fact.

Here are a few of the best POS systems on the market

ShopKeep: Best for Retail

ShopKeep is a POS system currently used by more than 18,000 small businesses in North America, and was recently named the best POS app for retail businesses by Business News Daily. In their review, they vouch for ShopKeep’s one-tiered, affordable pricing model, pay-as-you-go contract, and 24/7 customer care. In terms of efficiency, ShopKeep also offers fast checkout options – visual and color-coded features that will help employees scan through a customer’s products in a flash.

Revel Systems: Best for Restaurants

Revel Systems has been ranked as the best comprehensive app for restaurant retailers. Its user friendly interface makes it simple for servers to assign tables, split orders, and schedule courses. The POS system also has a number of backend features, including a loyalty program where servers can log information about their customers, the ability for restaurateurs to track hours and manage payouts, and offline credit card capability should the Internet suddenly cut out.

Square: Best for Small Business

Square gives retailers the ability to accept credit cards, issue refunds, and track their inventory. The matchbox sized device plugs into any Apple or Android device and is ideal for small business owners and artisans who may be selling at a variety of retail locations. Craft fair and holiday market rushes can put a lot of pressure on retailers, and Square can help expedite the selling process.

In addition to these tools, there are a variety of companies on the market that make it their business to create technology-enabled solutions for businesses of all sorts. They can be an effective first step if you don’t know where to start.

Are you a business owner who has used technology to create a more efficient customer experience? What tools do you suggest? Let us know in the comments!

John Fecteau, Worldlink Integration