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Software for retail: show the value

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The rising interest rates and credit squeeze mean significant things for
retailers. With less disposable income to spend, customers are becoming that
much more selective. As such, retailers need to start using their IT
software that much more effectively. Instead of turning all their attention
to retail as an alternative channel then, Jeremy Waterman, MD: Softline
Accpac, believes solution providers need to look at the opportunities that
have developed in the retailer space, and make full use of these.

Thanks to the interest rate hikes, the retailer space has just become that
much more competitive. With margins already exceptionally slim and sales
targets not budging in the slightest, retailers are having to innovate in
terms of their systems and processes like never before.
While this has a definite impact on their IT budgets, the irony of the
current situation is that in some cases retailers should look at investing
in order to save. Although renewing IT systems might take a backseat,
retailers need to take a long, hard look at their efficiencies and how to
improve these.
One of the best ways to do this is often through software solutions.
Point of sale (POS) is the perfect example of an area where an IT solution
can add infinite value in retail. Investing in sophisticated software will
enable a retailer to move beyond the front-end of its store and integrate
all the way through to operations.
This is because a successful POS strategy is not just about cash registers –
but rather about driving efficiency. An integrated POS software system will
ensure a retailer has the right merchandise in its stores, at the right
price and at the right time. This is because it enables communication
between stock and financials.
While the ability to fully understand the buying patterns of customers has
always been crucial in this space, with these patterns now being adjusted
thanks to the credit crunch, retailers need to "know" their market like
never before. They need to anticipate wants and needs, and stock their
shelves accordingly.
Adding certain tools onto a basic system will enable this – where
opportunities for software vendors start to become apparent in this space.
Softline Accpac's retail management suite including Purchase Order
Projections, Inter Branch Transfers, Price Manager and Rapid Order Entry
tools is an example of a cost-effective solution that can drive efficiency.
In the case of Rapid Order Entry alone, this off- or online solution keeps a
sales team in touch with all customer data while processing all the
important orders. Price Manager on the other hand will allow full line
discounting, as well as approvals so that a chain can control its GP%
margins.
By presenting a store's management with stock items in grid format, they
will be able to analyse across multiple variables, as well as track price
fluctuations. PO Projections and Inter Branch Transfers provide access to
historical sales data allowing accurate forecasting and efficient stock
allocation to individual branches.
Instead of just seeing retail as an alternative channel for the distribution
of your IT software and products then, I suggest vendors turn their
attention to the retail space itself. With the credit squeeze starting to be
felt acutely in this sector, if you can prove your software solution will
add definite value, I believe you might just have found yourself a
completely captive market.