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Focus on Selling: 4 Tools to Help You Run Your Retail Store on a Budget

Lucinda Watrous

If you’re running a retail store, or thinking about opening one of your own, you know there’s a lot to balance.

Beyond finding an affordable space, outfitting it with displays and signage, stocking it with products, and staffing, there are a number of moving parts to keep up with.

And that’s before you even consider running an ecommerce equivalent.

Check out these tools to help you manage critical parts of your business, even if your cash flow isn’t where you want it to be.

Keep Track of Inventory and Employees

mStream is a point of sale (POS) system specifically built for retailers and restaurants.

The platform allows you to configure your products and inventory, process payments - including gift cards, manage your employees, and run reports.

Since the system integrates inventory and employee management, you don’t have to have a separate system for tracking hours and managing payroll. This helps you keep a closer eye on labor costs, streamlines your workflow, and saves money.

With the reporting feature, you can see how well your store is doing every day, and easily make data-driven decisions about which products need to be in stock and which ones you can afford to stop carrying. Reports are available in real-time, so there’s no need to wait until the close of business to check on something.

Store owners have two pricing options. If you’d rather maintain the hardware yourself, you can pay $39/month for the service, and a one-time fee of $799 for the hardware bundle. It includes a stand, tablet, card reader, receipt printer, a cash drawer, and a scanner.

If you’re strapped for cash, or don’t want to invest in the hardware, you can pay $99/month to receive both the software and the hardware. You can run a 14-day free trial on your Android tablet before you commit to purchasing the hardware.

Create a Mobile App Without Coding Experience

To keep up with the mobile revolution, mass retailers like Kohl’s, Walmart, and Target have mobile apps their customers can use to explore and shop.

For the small retail business, hiring a professional app development team just isn’t in the budget. Appy Pie is a DIY mobile app platform that makes it possible for anyone, anywhere, to create an app without coding knowledge.

The platform allows users to create apps for iPhone/iPad, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, and Amazon Kindle or Fire Phone devices.

It uses a drag-and-drop interface to make it easy to build an e-commerce app to complement your store.

Pricing starts at $15/month for Android only apps, and up to 5,000 push notifications per month. The $30/month plan includes support for iPhone apps and an additional 5,000 push notifications a month.

The $50/month plan includes support for all five mobile platforms and up to 25,000 push notifications a month. Discounts are available on all plans if billed annually.

Automate Online Marketing

Online marketing should be part of your plan since 69 percent of American consumers say they rely on the Internet to help them make purchasing decisions.

Simplycast is a cloud-based suite of marketing automation tools that allows you to manage everything from inbound marketing, social media profiles and posting activity, to web analytics, and more.

It integrates with other programs, including: WordPress, Outlook, and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms like Zoho and SugarCRM.

With it, you can manage advertising campaigns, conduct surveys and polls for valuable customer feedback, and target users based on demographics and behavior.

Several plans are available, starting at $99/month for up to two users and 3,000 contacts. Plans are capped at $499 per month and include 50,000 contacts with up to five users.

Handle Customer Service Like a Pro

Keeping is a simple and easy way to turn Gmail into a help desk. Instead of investing in a separate help desk program, Keeping adds customer support functions directly to the email box.

When your customers email you, you can easily lose track of which person on your staff has handled the issue. With the extension, it’s easy to add multiple staff members to your email support team, and keep track of who has taken care of what.

This way, customers get the answers they need without the hassle of wondering if their email has been lost in the shuffle.

After a 14-day free trial, plans start at $15/month. For a small retail store, this is usually enough, as it provides a single shared mailbox with three users.

For growing operations, the $29/month plan includes five users and unlimited shared mailboxes. The $49/month plan offers unlimited shared mailboxes and users.

Compete With Dynamic Pricing

It’s hard for brick-and-mortar retailers to compete with online stores, but with WiseDisplay, you’ll have an edge on the competition.

Set your pricing strategy, apply it to your stores, and the software will automatically reprice products in accordance with that strategy, so you can earn a profit no matter what channel you’re in.

Afterward, analysis reports let you see the impact, so you can keep adjusting until you’ve reached your ideal pricing structure.

Wiser offers a 14-day free trial but does not publicly list pricing. They say their pricing optimization tools yield a 22 percent increase in sales revenue and a seven percent increase in bottom line profit.

Using any or all of these tools can make running your business more efficient. Even with limited staff these tools make it easier for you to manage the operation with confidence.

Image Credit: Monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images
Lucinda Watrous Member
Lucinda Watrous is a freelance writer and web designer nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina. She's a tech geek, foodie, and research junkie. She writes about a little bit of everything.