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Monday, March 8, 2010

The Top 9 Retail Technologies You Need Today

Technology gives your retail operation strategic advantage. You need to know manage your operation in real time, ensuring accurate pricing, inventory levels are maintained and the ability to communicate with customers in real time. Not having a strategic retail technology game plan will quickly have you placing "Going out of Business" signs in your store window.

Universal Product Code (UPC), Inventory is the lifeblood of retail and if you don't have it fast, in the quality and quantity you need - customers will shop elsewhere. UPC code scanners are needed at the POS or cash register to quickly price an item as well as tally its sale back to the inventory system.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is becoming absolutely critical today. You need to know who your customers are and proactively market to them. CRM allows you to track customers, know what they bought and use the information to market to specific segments. It creates the stickiness you need for repeat business. Digital Signage - Having LCD screens at the POS means customer scan get advertising messages while waiting in line.

Interactive Kiosks are another example of video-integration in the store, and provide customers with additional product knowledge. Price Look Ups are other benefits of using multi-media.

Data Mining Software - This windows-based software gives retail executives a graphical view of the data they need to make sound business decisions. Easily manipulated, the information can be quickly sliced and diced to identify problems and opportunities in your business. This is the 8:00 dashboard report that is viewed with intense interest. Wireless Infrastructure -If sales associates have wireless telephone handsets, one can easily serve those customers waiting in line while communicating orders to the other sales associates in the stock room. Inbound customer calls can be transferred to the sales floor and dealt with in a friendlier manner. This increases store revenues.

A wireless cash register is perfect for side walk sales. It can be easily picked up and moved anywhere it's needed.

Taking inventory with a hand-held unit that can be downloaded to your head office system is much faster and easier than gathering it with a clipboard and pen.

Price checkers can also be used to assist in getting fast and accurate pricing. Self serve price check kiosks are a timesaver.

2 Way radio headsets have also become popular to prevent shoplifting, increase employee safety and monitor store traffic.

Pen Computing POS Pads - Signature capture at the POS is the best way to get your customers' signature for credit card receipts. And, if a customer returns to dispute their purchase, your sales associate can bring up the store copy electronically.

Smart Cards - These are credit cards with microprocessors that store the customer's money. No need to call in phone authorizations, the purchase is taken right from the card. They speed up the sales process and can be easily linked to CRM software to analyze purchases or simplify rewards programs.

The E-commerce Website- if you haven't implemented an e-commerce strategy, you better do it fast. The internet has become a powerful tool that consumers use to make purchases or do product research. At least get a web site up that provides information on product lines, policy statements and stores locations. It will help drive traffic to your bricks and mortar operation. It is also a useful tool for customer service because it can link with an email system. The ability to track and maintain customer lists also allows you to generate electronic advertising that links back to your web site. Distant or worldwide customers may want to buy your products and an online method is preferred.

IP Telephony Systems - Today's retailers will benefit from the numerous advantages these systems offer. They can easily integrate with your wireless network to provide wireless telephone handsets. They have built in ACD and Auto Attendant features that allow calls to handled in the most efficient manner. Linking the telephone system with other stores allows an integrated network. Sales associates can contact another store easily and inquire if an item is in stock. Customers expect real time answers to questions and the IP telephony system allows this. The ability for staff to have voice mail boxes means managers can inform staff of important information. Corporate Telecom managers can easily maintain and make changes to the system remotely saving time and money. If you cannot communicate to your customers when they call you by telephone then customers will not visit your store.

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