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Apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch is restructuring its operations to cut the chief operating officer position. On a practical level, what that means is the other C-level executives will all report to the chief executive officer. That’s one way to streamline your retail operations, but it’s not the only way.

Technology can also be used to streamline retail operations. Here are three practical ways a retail operations solution can help you streamline your apparel chain operations:

  1. Automate Replenishment – Inventories are always fluctuating. Every sale reduces your product count. Every purchase order increases it. One way to streamline your replenishment procedures is to automate them. You can do that by establishing rules for when you order new product. And you can establish different rules for different product lines. If one product sells faster than other products, then set the minimum order higher, and the replenishment trigger too.
  2. Intelligently allocate your product counts – Not only do different products sell at different rates, but different stores sell the same products at different rates. What’s popular at one location may not be popular at another. For that reason, you can intelligently allocate your products for individual stores according to how quickly they turn over their inventories. The right retail operations solution can handle this task seamlessly.
  3. Sort your products easily – Another aspect of inventory control is product assortment. You can sort your products by size, color, vendor, and product type, but you can also sort them according to store or region where those products are trending in sales or more popular. This makes it easier to find those products in any store and facilitates faster store transfers. Sort your products intelligently and your entire retail operation will run smoothly.

An efficient apparel retail operation begins with your inventory. If you have it running smoothly, you’ll go a long way to streamlining your retail operations.

The post Streamlining Your Apparel Retail Operations appeared first on Retail Management Software Blog.

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Clienteling is the art of building customer relationships that lead to profitable and efficient retailing. Effective clienteling requires the right tools that facilitate this relationship-building process. When you find those tools, you’ll discover that building solid and long-lasting customer relationships is just as easily done as said–if you follow these tips to understand your customers as individual shoppers.

  • Know your customer in real time – True clienteling begins with knowing up-to-the-minute details about your customer. If a customer stops you on aisle 9 to ask you a question, your sales associate should be able to look the customer up on the spot and see that she purchased a product 5 minutes ago on her mobile phone. That’s real-time customer information.
  • Capture data across multiple channels – Whether your customer is shopping in-store, on your website, through a mobile app, or through whatever technology happens to dominate a decade from now, you should be able to capture customer data and see that data on any interface.
  • Generate customer profiles – With robust customer information, you should be able to profile your customers according to a number of criteria. See your customer profiles for demographics, geography, buying habits, and other details important to your retail operation.
  • Create custom marketing campaigns – Customer marketing can be based on generated profiles or on individual characteristics. Want to send a mailer to all of your customers who have purchased a specific product in the last six months, you can do that when your clienteling is on top of its game.
  • Promote customer loyalty – You should be able to use any channel for building customer loyalty programs. You can make those programs channel-specific or roll them out across multiple channels.
  • Perform customer analysis – Analyzing your customer database should be easy and efficient. With the right clienteling tools, it will be.

Clienteling is all about knowing your customer. If you collect the data, you can analyze the data and organize it according to your retail needs. Make it easy on yourself and make your customer happy.

The post Creative and Personalized Clienteling appeared first on Retail Management Software Blog.

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The point of sale is the crux of the retail operation. If you want to be profitable, you’ve got to have an effective and efficient point-of-sale (POS) system. The following five components of your retail operation must be managed efficiently if you expect your POS to deliver profits.

  1. Customer relationships – At the heart of an retail operation is customer relationships. If you can’t manage the relationship with your customers well, then you might as well hang up your retail cap. This is absolutely essential, from capturing personal data such as phone and mailing address to collecting information on past purchases, the more you know about each customer, the better you can manage that relationship.
  2. Mobile integration – Today’s retail environment is a multi-channel environment. That means allowing your customer to search for products and make purchases on their computers, and even on their mobile phones.
  3. Product lookup – Being able to find products quickly will speed up your point-of-sale interactions. When a customer needs a product, your staff should be able to look it up by product name, vendor, SKU, or other parameters and get it into your customer’s hands quickly. Better yet, ring it up on the spot as another employee retrieves it from the shelf.
  4. Manage your promotions – Promotions rules management should be integrated into your POS system so that products ring up correctly at the cash register, bulk discounts are offered when necessary, and other specials do not hold your customers up when they are trying to get out of your store. Promotional rules are as much a part of your POS system as they are a part of marketing.
  5. Productivity monitoring – If you pay your employees productivity bonuses or commissions on sales, then you need to track that at the POS. A good POS system will include that ability as a basic feature.

If your retail store is going to be profitable, it has to be efficient at the point of sale. There’s no way around it.

The post 5 Things to Manage for a More Effective POS appeared first on Retail Management Software Blog.

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Unless you manage your retail prices optimally, you’ll have a hard time being profitable. No matter what kind of retail operations you run, manage the prices of your products is paramount. Here are six ways to better manage your retail product prices for increased profitability.

  1. Establish prices by geography or zones – One fact of life that cannot be ignored is the cost of living. It’s drastically different in Omaha, Nebraska than in New York, New York. Even if your retail operations expands across the globe–or, especially–your pricing structure needs to reflect the local economy. Setting your prices based on each stores geography makes sense.
  2. Create promotional campaigns any time you want – There are all sorts of reasons to run a promotion. It can be seasonal, to drive sales during a specific holiday, a special event, or even a permanent price decrease. Whatever the case, you should be able to run a promotion any time it suits you.
  3. Set markup minimums – Your markup determine how many units you sell, which determines your ultimate profit. Optimize your markups by establishing minimums.
  4. Change pricing based on your own parameters – Some retailers set prices based on dollar amount. Others change prices according to percentage. You might do both depending on the promotion. Knowing when to use which pricing strategy, and implementing at just the right time, will increase your profits.
  5. Create user lists – Who is able to change prices in your retail chain? Make a list and give each person access based on their level of expertise. Store managers, retail managers, and buyers may all need a way to make price changes, but give each individual only the permission they need.
  6. Track price changes and performance – You need to be able to track all your prices, as well as the performance of your sales team. By tracking and monitoring prices, you can better determine which products need the extra push.

Optimize your pricing strategies and you’ll optimize your profits.

The post 6 Ways to Manage Retail Prices Better appeared first on Retail Management Software Blog.

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Specialty retailers have their own ways of doing things. There’s some truth in that. But retail is still retail. You have customers, you have to drive traffic to your stores, and you’ve got to move your merchandise. The basic elements of the retail business are still the same.

That said, there are some unique elements to every kind of specialty retail store that makes it a “specialty.”

Pet stores, for instance, could include a grooming service. That’s certainly different than anything any other type of retail store can offer. And it could be a huge part of your retail operations, a very profitable feature that brings in business for your actual products. As a pet store retailer, you need a way to track, monitor, and merchandise your grooming service.

Eyewear specialists may need to schedule eye examination results. Pharmacists need to fulfill subscriptions sent them by physicians. Both of these specialty retailers may have licensed professionals in each store to perform specific services for their customers in addition to performing other routine retail functions such as selling eyeglasses, sunglasses, and vitamins.

No matter what kind of specialty retail store you manage, there are specific retail functions that you are going to have in common with other retailers. But there will also be special services, and products, that you offer that are not easily found in department stores and other retail operations. Those are the features that your store so unique. But you still, like all retailers, need tools that help you manage the day-to-day operations of your stores.

ChainDrive specializes in retail operations management solutions, both for traditional retailers and for specialty retail stores. When it comes to operations management, you need a way to monitor productivity, manage prices, and keep track of your specialty services.

What’s holding your specialty retail store back? If it’s not having the right tools, you can fix that.

The post Is Specialty Retail Really Any Different? appeared first on Retail Management Software Blog.

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Moving inventory is the name of the game in wholesale. You want to move as much inventory as quickly as possible. That’s how you stay in business. So what do you do to move more inventory in wholesale? Here are some tips to help you sell more product as a wholesaler:

  • Manage your inventory in real time – The key to more profits is to get a handle on up-to-the-minute inventory statuses. The more you know about the status of your inventory, the more quickly you can respond to the market and get your stock moving.
  • Monitor employee productivity – To stay profitable, and efficient, you need to know how much time your employees are putting into each wholesale activity. Are they spending too much time stocking shelves? Are they spending too much time on each customer? Get a handle on productivity so you can maximize each employee’s every action.
  • Automate the invoice process – Manual invoicing is a time-killer. By automating the invoice process, you’ll save yourself bundles of time and a lot of money on activity that is eating your profits.
  • Manage your prices better – When you’re on top of your inventory status in real time, you can offer better discounts on bulk and make better pricing decisions. Have too much of one item on hand? Discount and move more if it. You can even figure out how much to discount your products based on how much you have in the warehouse, how much is on the shelves, and how much you have scheduled to arrive at the dock. Manage your prices better to increase your profits.
  • Keep your vendors happy – To keep your vendors happy, you need to pay your invoices on time. Manage your invoices well and you’ll well manage your vendors better. That will lead to more product coming in the door and more product flying off the shelves.

The key to wholesale management is to know the status of your inventory so you can make good decisions–buying decisions, price decisions, and more.

The post Wholesalers: Move More Inventory appeared first on Retail Management Software Blog.

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Integrated accounting in the retail sector is about using accounting principles within the retail environment to ensure maximum profitability. Every retail chain should strive for that.

Here are five very specific ways to make your retail accounting more retail-centric:

  1. Manage multiple retail chains – Today’s retail environment is heavy on mergers and acquisitions. Large companies buy up entire chains and manage multiple chains as part of a portfolio. Retail-centric accounting involves using traditional accounting principles to manage the operations of multiple retail chains from one central location to streamline the accounting processes for each chain in the family.
  2. Establish a rules-based commissions engine – When you manage a retail chain where employees are paid, in part or in full, on commissions, bonuses, and other incentives, you need a seamless way to track the performance of each member of your team so you can process payroll more easily. A retail-centric operations management solution can handle that task perfectly.
  3. Integrate a retail financial system – Retail finances are different from other types of businesses. You’ve got to match invoices with product orders, figure cost of unit based on bulk purchasing and volume discounts, spread the cost of merchandise, shipping, and other retail expenses across multiple stores, and more. A powerful retail financial system will help you manage all of these accounting procedures more easily from one central location with reporting views at multiple levels.
  4. Set up a tri-dimensional general ledger structure – Your general ledger needs to be set up so that you can provide accountability for each account you establish, every store within your chain, and all the departments that report to your organization head. This structure gives you eyes on all important details on each of these dimensions of your retail business.
  5. Centralize lease management and rent invoicing – In retail, it’s not uncommon to see leases for 10 or 20 years. You need a way to manage every lease agreement, especially since each store in your chain likely has its own lease agreement. If your rent invoicing is handled on an annual basis, then you’ve got to be able to track all your payments. Plus, if you rent out sections of your stores to other merchants, a centralized lease management solution can help you manage that process. Finally, you need a seamless way to project all future liabilities.

These are not the only important accounting processes you should concern yourself with, but they are important for managing multiple stores and chains, and for making your accounting procedures more retail-centric. Look into integrating retail-centric accounting procedures into your operations today.

The post 5 Ways to Make Accounting More Retail-Centric appeared first on Retail Management Software Blog.

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Retail business intelligence is the collection and analysis of key data that retailers can use to impact revenues, profits, and effectiveness. It primarily involves three key components:

  1. Collecting the right data
  2. Delivering that data to the right people within your organization
  3. And using that data to change the retail environment so that you increase revenues, profits, and effectiveness at all levels of the retail organization
What is the Right Retail Data?

So what is the right data to collect?

Business intelligence in retail is about collecting point-of-sale data–customer, product, and financial–as well as competitive, market, and economic data, which can be used for planning purposes.

Collecting the right data, however, is the easy part. What do you do with it once you have it?

Ensuring Data Ends Up in the Right Hands

If your data is going to be used effectively, you’ve got to make sure it ends up in the right hands. That means key product information needs to be accessible to buyers, store managers, regional managers, and operations managers so that each person can use the information for better planning and inventory management.

By the same token, marketers and store managers need access to key customer information to ensure better customer service is performed.

Each level of your retail business needs key data in order to be effective and increase revenues. A good operations solution will make this seamless.

Analyzing the Data

The hardest part about business intelligence is analyzing the data you collect. Not everyone is equipped to analyze the data effectively. How do the numbers affect your profits? Can you change anything to cut expenses and increase revenues? If so, what needs to change?

When you engage your associates in planning based on solid business intelligence, and train them to use the proper tools, you’ll be a more effective retailer. And you’ll be more profitable too.

The post How Business Intelligence Leads to Retail Profts appeared first on Retail Management Software Blog.

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As a home decor retailer, you’ve got additional challenges. Ordering product is a little bit different than, say, book store retailers and shoe merchants. Most of your inventory is larger, bulkier, and requires more than one person to carry. But that’s just one the challenges to overcome.

If you manage or own a home decor retail store, you’ll likely recognize these five challenges. But do you know how to overcome them?

  1. Managing vendors – As a home decor retail merchant, you may sell for just one vendor, but chances are, you carry merchandise from multiple vendors. And there may be vendors for whom you sell only one product. If you sell on consignment, then you’ve got additional challenges. You need a solution that will help you manage each vendor efficiently and every product you carry for each of those vendors.
  2. Managing Inventory – Many of your products may come with SKUs, but large furniture might not. A good retail management solution will help you catalog and manage your inventory from the time you order it to the time you sell it.
  3. Monitoring performance – If your staff works on commission, you need a way to monitor performance so you can be sure to compensate each employee for their productivity.
  4. Ordering specialty items – Home decor customers often want custom furniture, art, or other items. Handling special orders can be a challenge, but you can do it seamlessly no matter how may specialty orders you have each day with the right operations management tool.
  5. Managing warranties – Expensive home decor items often come with warranties, and they should. You need a system that can manage warranties extended warranties, and other incidentals such as insurance. With the right operations management tool, your home decor retail business can keep track of all customer warranties.

Building solid customer relationships in the home decor business requires managing these five aspects of retail effectively. You can do it with the right tools.

The post 5 Management Challenges of Home Decor Retailers appeared first on Retail Management Software Blog.

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Retail key performance indicators (KPIs) are important metrics. They help retail managers understand their customers, business, and revenue situation better. If you want to run a profitable retail operation, then keep an eye on on these important KPIs.

  • Sales – Most retailers understand the importance of tracking sales. This is directly related to revenues and profits. You should understand how many sales you make and the dollar amount of total sales for your entire store, products, product categories, and departments in your chain.
  • Gross margin – Gross margin is the gross profits you earn as a percentage of sales.
  • Sales per square foot – If you want to know whether your store layout is working, know your sales per square foot.
  • Average customer spend – The average amount customers spend per purchase.
  • Units purchased per transactions – How many products, on average, your customers purchase per transaction.
  • Stock turnover rate – How many times you turn your entire inventory over per year.
  • Sell through rate – The ratio of product units sold in a period of time and on-hand inventory at the beginning of that period.
Why KPIs Are Important for Store Budgeting

By understanding how each store in your chain compares to other stores on these metrics, you can better budget your expenses for each month, quarter, and year. You can set store budgets based on store size, revenue, traffic counts, and locations. However, understanding these KPIs for each store gives you important information for budget planning.

You likely have some bigger stores and some smaller stores in your chain. Larger stores could do better in sales and underperform on other metrics. For instance, sales per square foot, units per transaction, and sell through rate. If you can get an apples-to-apples comparison, you can make each store profitable regardless of size.

The post Top Retail KPIs You Should Track appeared first on Retail Management Software Blog.

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