Does technology help or hinder new retailers?

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lightspeed

Succeeding as an independent retailer may indeed be a difficult thing to do, but technology can help pave the way for success. If anything, it should be its biggest asset.

Customers expect to be able to access a retailer on every platform, and new retailers are likely to make a poor first impression if this is not available from the off.

Despite representing a minefield for new businesses on one hand, technology also provides some essential tools with the other.

“We‘re not techies and it needed to be intuitive and easy. I think that played the biggest part in our decision.”

Companies like cloud based EPOS firm Lightspeed are specifically designed to ease new entrepreneurs into the world of retail.

“We knew we were going to be on a skeleton crew, and we needed something that was going to be super easy,” cosmetics retailer Mortar and Milk‘s co-founder Pamela Marshall told Retail Gazette.

For first time shop owners learning the ropes can take time. Becoming familiar with inventory incomings and outgoings, not to mention financial records is notoriously troublesome for new businesses and the angle of the learning curve can make or break them.

With tools such as Lightspeed, which measures inventory levels and presents financial reports on a platform accessible from anywhere, shop owners are able to focus on the customers that are going to enable their success.

Marshall added: “When I went on the website I just wanted to find something that would be thorough and easy.

“We‘re not techies and it needed to be intuitive and easy. I think that played the biggest part in our decision.”

Of course, once an independent retailer has made it through the first few months, these factors become even more important.

Knomo, a bag and technology brand which has just opened its second bricks-and-mortar store in London, needed something which could keep track of the progress across both its established store and its new offering.

The brand‘s chief executive Howard Harrison joked that he was often aware of a staff member’s sales figures before they were, thanks to the ability to monitor progress from anywhere.

“Some people like numbers. I definitely enjoy seeing numbers to kind of make sense of things,” he said.

“It has to evidence the fact that we understand technology as a brand.”

“I didn‘t know the brand to start with, now I have the app on my phone. I was showing my wife last night what we‘d done over the two stores in the last few weeks and she was amazed I had all the data. I‘ve become a real fan.”

For a company whose branding centres around organisation and modernism, it was vital that this ethos be communicated instore during Knomo‘s transition from ecommerce to physical retail.

A new retail store is perhaps the best opportunity to introduce new customers to a brand. With this in mind it was essential for Knomo to adopt a back-end system that fell in line with its philosophy.

“People talk about what the modern-day retail experience is and you don‘t want a big traditional till on the counter,” Harrison continued.

“It has to evidence the fact that we understand technology as a brand.”

Although technology is seen by many would-be independent retailers as being their biggest challenge, dig a little deeper and its clear it is also their most essential tool.

For more details, visit  lightspeedhq.co.uk/POS/retail

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