Top online tools for retail and hospitality

16th April, 2015

Running a retail or hospitality business is all about your customers. But to make the business a success, you also need to balance the books and ensure that all other elements of your business run smoothly. Just finding time to do all these things can be a little overwhelming, so I have some advice to help you get back your customers while your business operates with ease.

The cloud has made things a lot easier for business owners. We now are spoilt for choice on mobile apps that can simplify the drudgery of keeping business records. There are many apps for running POS systems that will integrate with your accounting system, stock records and customer relationship management records. How easy would it be to make a sale that updates your stock records, customer record and sales records — all from a scan of a bar code? Some systems like Kounta even integrate with your accounting system.

Other business systems also need to be in place, and again we can look at mobile apps that shorten the time spent on these important business processes. Scan your receipts, bills and other important documents to digitise your paper work with apps like Shoeboxed and Smart Receipts. Some apps will even transfer scanned documents directly into your accounting system, alleviating the need to enter all those bills at the end of the week.

Once you have scanned you documents, how about storing them? Apps such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive will store your documents in the cloud, where they can be accessed anytime, anywhere. Some also allow you to share your data, edit documents and sync across all your devices. No more having to run back to the shop to get that important document for bank!

Of course we shouldn’t forget customer service. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are important for retail and hospitality businesses, but they can become clumsy and hard to manage. It’s important to find one that works for you. CRM software can quickly identify which customers are the biggest spenders or group your customers according to their buying interests, which will allow you to send targeted emails for sales, events or exclusive deals rather than bombarding your whole database each time. Sales assistance can pull up customer information on a tablet when the shopper comes into your store and provide exclusive service based on the customer’s previous purchases. Examples of this type of software include Perkville, Chimpadeedoo and the point-of-sale software Kounta.

My favourite category is the selection of tools for password storage. At last count I had over forty passwords for different applications! These apps store all your passwords together, and you only need to remember one password for the app — I love it! Some will even rank the strength of your passwords to make access even more secure. Try looking at 1Password, Password Box and Dashlane.

I hope that these tips will help you run your business more efficiently and improve your processes, so you can get back to what really matters: your customer relationships.