Given the increasing competition in the market, retailers have no choice but to work at a hundred percent efficiency on all fronts. Consumers nowadays have many shopping choices, choices intentionally designed to suit their fancies. When so many fishes are in the sea, even a single business model shortcoming can be catastrophic. In an age where customers expect a bespoke experience, retailers are looking towards the technology sector to get a competitive edge.
Retail software solutions are helping businesses fine-tune various fronts of their organizations. From internal, day-to-day processes to inventory management and customer care, retail software solutions provide a wide range of services that help retailers with customer retention and customer acquisition.
Whether it is a brick-and-mortar shop, an eCommerce business, or a mixture of both, retail business software solutions can benefit them all. And today, we will learn how you can create a retail software solution for your business.
But before that, let’s quickly understand…
What are Retail Software Solutions?
Retail software is an umbrella term used for various digital solutions that help retailers run their businesses smoothly. These solutions help automate and streamline internal processes. Retail business solutions work in conjunction with AI and machine learning to study customer behavior and get crucial analytics that can help generate smarter marketing strategies. At the same time, these software solutions help with out-of-store or online processes. eCommerce became vital for retailers during the pandemic since people could only shop online.
The sudden surge in the popularity of eCommerce solutions among the consumers pushed retailers to act and integrate eCommerce solutions with their business models. Retail software solutions are also used these days to provide better customer service to the users with the help of tools like chatbots and CRMs.
What are the Key Benefits of Custom Retail Software Solutions?
The technology and retail sectors are coming together to elevate customer experience and develop seamless business processes. There are many benefits for retailers to invest in developing retail software solutions. But more than that, the proper implementation of these solutions is vital for its success.
According to a report by Zetes, 30% of customers are not willing to wait for more than 2 minutes on eCommerce sites to find out if the item they are looking for is in stock or not. This means that it’s not enough to integrate technology into retail businesses; the way it has been implemented counts for a lot too.
Given below are some of the key benefits of adopting retail software solutions:
Streamlines the Supply Chain:
For retailers, managing their supply chain is vital. A slight oversight in the process can lead to disastrous results and cost the retailers heftily. Custom supply chain solutions can provide real-time visibility of the warehouse floor. They can also help pinpoint vulnerabilities in the process to prevent any failures or production halts down the line.
Retailers need to manage their inventory rigorously. For a shop as big as Best Buy, an inventory management software solution is essential. These solutions keep track of what’s in stock and what’s not. Furthermore, they notify store managers when a particular item is about to be out of stock, to give them enough time to restock it. AI integration can help these solutions post an auto-restock request and even stock up on things according to their seasonal demands.
AI-based Marketing Campaigns:
With the help of AI, retail software gathers crucial customer-oriented data. And with the help of that data, they can also help companies make better marketing plans. For instance, if a certain type of chocolate powder is in demand with kids between ages six and eleven, these retail software solutions pick up on that and make a marketing plan for that particular demographic.
Customer Relations and Support:
Retailers can provide better customer support for their eCommerce solutions using CRM software. Using an adequately integrated solution, customers can earn rewards, discounts, etc. Technology can help retailers with customer relations by sending them birthday wishes, coupons, etc.
Automate Internal Processes:
The inner machinery of a retail shop is built with many complex processes. Retail software solutions can simplify them with the help of automation. Many daily tasks can be automated, thus freeing the human workforce to work on things that require cognitive skills.
Types of retail software solutions
The retail industry is vast and deep, with many departments that require different types of retail software solutions. So given below is a list of various types of retail software solutions:
1. Point-of-Sale (PoS) Software
Point of sale or point of purchase is that point in brick-and-mortar shops where a customer finally pays for his goods. These software solutions usually run behind the payment counters where the shopkeepers calculate your goods’ price, receive your payment, and give you a receipt. While on the surface, it sounds very straightforward, it is anything but. POS software solutions are responsible for managing inventory, employees, online sales, accepting payments via various methods, etc. Tools like barcode readers and card readers are also involved in the process. Most stores nowadays use POS software to make the buyer’s journey as straightforward as possible.
2. Payment Processing Software
A good chunk of shoppers these days like to pay for their goods using credit cards or e-wallets. This is especially true for online shopping, where most of the sales happen via digital methods. Whether you are swiping your card at a POS or doing some online shopping, the payment processing software solutions take the payment request and your card details and send them to both the customer’s and the retailer’s banks. The success and failure messages are then channeled back to the payment gateway. Many payment software solutions charge a processing fee depending on the size of the payment.
3. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Software
An ERP software integrates and connects many different parts and sections that make up the back office of a retail store. While these solutions are themselves very complex, they create a shared database that supports various functions used by the different business units to streamline the internal workflow. It also allows store owners to better track and assess their processes and business transactions.
4. Inventory Management Software
Inventory management software solutions are essential for any retailer these days. They help retailers in making sure that their inventory runs smoothly. This involves keeping track of things that are out of stock, or about to be out of stock, and alerting the store manager. Customers have a very low tolerance level when it comes to finding a product out of stock. So, inventory management software helps retailers fix this problem.
5. eCommerce Software
Due to the sudden swell in the popularity of online shopping, eCommerce platforms are essential for retailers these days. While people still shopped outside before the pandemic, in the post-covid era, more and more people are choosing to shop online. As a result, it has become necessary for brick-and-mortar shops to have an online retail store for their business.
How to Develop a Retail Software Solution?
Software development is a big undertaking that must not be taken lightly. When you decide to move ahead with your retail software solution development, you will have to be ready to put in the work. This will also require time and money investment. However, these things will vary based on the complexity of your software solution.
While every software solution requires a bespoke development approach, below is an objective development flow for the retail software development space.
Realizing the need
The first step in retail software solution development is to locate the problem in your process. As a retailer, you have many entities working simultaneously. And most of them are interlinked. This makes pinpointing the problem in your process all the more crucial. While the idea of developing an all-encompassing software solution that works for your entire business is compelling, the fact of the matter is that very few businesses are able to achieve it. Also, it is a vast financial load. More often than not, retailers go for custom retail software solution development to address a single problem in their process or streamline the workings of a single entity.
So, before you start with the development process, figure out which part of your business you want to digitize. Whether it is the POS or inventory or internal processes, whatever your needs are, write them down and only then move to the next stage.
Research and Analysis
Once you know what needs to be fixed, it’s time to go out and find that solution. You need to do in-depth research of the market and your competitors and see what others with the same problems as you did. This will give you a list of potential solutions for your problem.
Also, if you are building an eCommerce solution, you need to study customer sentiments towards such platforms thoroughly. You need to study the eCommerce platforms of your competitors, find out what their customers like and dislike about their solution, and how it can be better.
At this point, research various retail software solution developers also. While you are far from partnering with one, it does you good to know the best players in the game. There are plenty of customer retail software developers on the market, but the quality of services that they deliver differs vastly. Also, some of them are pocket-friendly and open about their development process, while the rest cost more and are very hush-hush about how they work.
Create a list of all the potential developers you might want to partner with and then move to the next stage.
Using your research, you need to create a development plan. This will include budget planning, time planning, training planning for your employees, etc. Often, this phase is done with the Design and Development phase, which is the next one on our list. The reason is that an expert developer can give valuable insights about budget, technology stack required, time frame, etc.
Design and Development
While designing your retail software solution, you need to keep in mind the problem you need to solve.
For instance, internal software to automate daily manual processes and help with the database doesn’t need to be extremely pretty. But it needs to run well, be feature-rich, easy to use, robust, and secure. At the same time, an eCommerce solution needs to be eye-catching, streamlined, and well-designed. As it is evident, the requirements for both of the examples are very different. So be very careful of how you design your retail software solution.
Depending on the complexity and level of required sophistication, the development cycle for retail software can take some time. Furthermore, delays are very common while developing a software solution.
It is best that you hire a software developer that is open about the idea of collaboration and takes your inputs frequently. Retail software solution development is also an expensive affair, so you need to keep an eye on how the development is coming along and that your developer is sticking to the budget.
Test and Release
After development, app testing takes place. Thorough testing can take some time, depending on the complexity of the software. Sometimes, it’s just a couple of bugs here and there, but sometimes, it can require massive rework. So, be prepared for an extended development cycle brought on by the testing phase as well.
Finally, once your software is out in the wild, you need to keep it running. Regular updates and server maintenance are required. Frequent security checks and protocol updates help you in keeping your retail software solution healthy as well.
Why Choose Matellio?
With decades of experience, Matellio has crafted a development cycle that is customer-centric first and foremost. Agile methodology allows us to keep our customers in the loop at every stage of the development. We excel at delivering high-quality retail software solutions to address various problems. Our highly skilled software designers and developers use cutting-edge technology to create software solutions that add value to our customers.
We at Matellio believe in making business relationships. That’s why, when we pick up a project, we make sure that we deliver a product that builds trust between our clients and us.
If you are looking to create a retail software solution, there is nobody better to partner with than Matellio. Contact us today for a free consultation.