Earlier this week, we discussed Tips for growing your retail business which led us to the future trends discussed today. Moving ahead in 2016, the trends that can be perceived revolve around the use of technology with a focus on data security, better customer experience and flexible funding options to support growth. No shopping journey today is complete without the use of mobile devices. Even if a purchase is made from a brick and mortar stores, the pre-purchase research is done the internet and smartphones. To enhance customer experience, retailers have to use technology to synergize the business processes. Technologies like QR codes and Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons are more and more used by retailers for customer engagement through smartphones.
Integration of systems
Accepting the reality of Omni-channel buying; retailers will be busy merging their digital and physical systems for enhanced controls and improved services. By 2017, the cumulative Omni-channel retail sales are likely to touch $1.8 trillion. Taking into account that 80 percent customers use mobile devices or in-shop technology when buying, this is a necessity. Customers might be given opportunities to scan the inventory online and do some work that can save shopping time at the physical store like done by Macy’s that has both physical and online stores.
Turning to apps and single view systems
With the merging of systems, it becomes imperative to use retail management systems with unified viewing. In this single viewing system, both online and offline data collected from various channels of sales can be viewed on a single screen. Single view systems give more visibility to customers across different channels with a focus on inventory and sales than the approach of yesteryear. More companies will be integrating cloud-based apps that can provide insights into business on real time basis. Some of the best retail management software systems and apps include Revel iPad POS, Windward System Five, Aralco Retail Systems and so on.
Secured payment methods
Small business can now be assured of more secure payments as it has been made mandatory by the government to use microchip enabled debit and cards only for monetary transactions. The introduction of a uniform EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) payment standard will safeguard both customers and business owners from fraud. Use of EMV terminals like the PayPal Here Chip Card reader for processing card payments will safeguard the interests of small business by putting an end to the use of swipe and sign debit and credit cards that were prone to fraudulent transactions and security breaches besides proving more payment options.
Easy online funding
Cash flow problems are likely to become a thing of the past for small retail businesses anymore as online loans are now readily available. These loans are offered without collaterals and look past the credit rating of applicants. The online application process is simple and loans are approved and disbursed online very speedily to make the availability of funds a hassle free process. This alternative method of business funding is ideal for retail business that can now take giant strides by using the facility that eases the problems of instant funding to capture growth opportunities. Services like Prosper and Lending Club are available to connect borrowers with lenders.
The retail industry has evolved significantly over the past few years. With innovations in technology and business processes, it is sure to receive a huge boost in the coming years as well. All in all, 2016 is shaping up to be a great year for both small and large retail businesses.