Retail software is a must-have for businesses operating in the eCommerce age. The best retail software solutions can help you streamline and automate every aspect of your business, from customer checkout, inventory management, employee shift scheduling, and accounting, to gathering business-boosting analytics and customer feedback, like online reviews. 

The goal of any great retail software solution is to bring together as many of these business goals as possible, allowing you to use one platform to manage your entire business. You’ll also be able to see a high-level performance overview of your operations and learn what aspects of your business are working well and which need help. To find the best retail software solution for your business, you’ll need to sit down and prioritize your goals.  

So how do you know if a retail software solution is right for you? We’ve rounded up the 5 best retail software features that every business owner needs. 


1. Unified Point-of-Sale and Ecommerce

If you operate a business that sells in-store and online, you need software that helps you universally streamline your checkout process. Many of the best retail software solutions come with in-store hardware, like stationary or mobile checkouts. You’ll receive a device that allows you to accept payment for items purchased at brick-and-mortar locations and reconciles inventory in the same software that manages your e-commerce checkout process and online sales. Your employees will be happy with an easy, modern checkout process—floor sales will be able to quickly ring up customers and your accountant will breeze through reporting and bookkeeping tasks.


How This Feature Improves Customer Service

This type of retail software and hardware setup makes your customer’s in-store and online experience more pleasant. They can make their purchase with less time spent waiting in line and even ask your staff to ship them a product that is out of stock in your store. Unified software and hardware can also standardize your checkout process—if a customer buys in-store and then wants to make another purchase online, their checkout experience will be similar and their customer data will be stored safely in the cloud.


2. Inventory Management

Have you ever searched your storeroom to realize the item that you just sold to a customer is actually out-of-stock? This is a huge pain for online retailers and brick-and-mortar retailers alike. If you have not yet digitized your inventory, doing so will help you avoid this fiasco. The best retail software helps you track both in-store and online purchases and anticipate seasonal inventory needs based on past data trends. 

Real-time inventory tracking also allows you to order more product immediately, versus ordering when your employees take inventory daily, weekly, or monthly. For bulk sales, tracking inventory empowers your sales representatives to speak to customers with confidence and accuracy. 


How This Feature Improves Customer Service

Delays in shipping because of low stock or erroneously selling an item at the register that is actually sold out in the stock room can result in customer dissatisfaction. Inaccurate inventory counts can also be very frustrating for sales staff who rely on commission, causing their attitude and sales margins to suffer. Having the stock you need, when you need it solves all of these common customer service bottlenecks. 


3. Cloud-based Bookkeeping

The best retail software incorporates bookkeeping solutions that make it easier for your accountant to keep on top of payroll, financial reporting, and business taxes. Retail software can simultaneously track the cash coming in through sales and the cash going out for expenses, such as payroll and taxes. Your accountant and business stakeholders can then generate reports that tell you your net profit in real-time.

If you are outsourcing your accounting, the proper retail software also keeps you organized for when it comes time to run payroll and send customer invoices each month. When you combine this with inventory management, it also becomes easier to forecast restocking and other operational costs.


How This Feature Improves Customer Service

For businesses with dedicated accounting departments, balancing the books may not be a burden. But small businesses that outsource monthly accounting and payroll tasks will save time and plenty of frustration by implementing software solutions that automate this process. This means more time spent focusing on your clients and customers. And less likelihood of accounting mistakes being made that require end-of-year reconciliation.


4. Centralized Customer Data

When you use one software solution to unify all aspects of your business, the customer information you retain will be more organized and more available for your employees. This means when a customer buys from you in-store, they can use your POS system to automatically enroll in your loyalty program, sign up for your email list, and enter relevant data like their name and address for future customer interactions. 

Mom-and-pop shops keep track of customers by knowing everyone who walks through the door. If this is not the reality for your business, you need another way to organize and track your customers and their buying habits. Retail software will keep all this information in one place and make it easier to spot trends.


How This Feature Improves Customer Service

Raw data becomes especially important when customer interactions are spread out on multiple dates, across in-store and online purchases, and with customer service provided by different employees. Your customer service team can only help a customer if they know about their past experiences. Retail software makes this as easy as typing in a name, email address, or phone number. 

Tracking customer data also allows you to get a handle on customer retention and recognize opportunities to improve your customer service experience. By having data readily available about your customers, you can quickly identify areas in your business where both retention and new customer acquisition can be improved through better service.


5. Automated Customer Feedback Requests

One of the easiest ways to improve sales and customer service is through collecting feedback from your customers in real-time. A key feature you will want to look for in a retail software is the ability to automate reviews and feedback. Online reviews, especially for e-commerce businesses, help build trust in your brand and sway customers to make a purchase. But it can be hard to generate these reviews on your own—setting up an automated system makes sure this important marketing goal doesn’t fall to the wayside. 

With retail software, asking for this feedback is as easy as setting up an automated email or text message. You can even respond to reviews from Facebook, your website, and many other platforms in one space, saving time. This is a game-changer for many business owners.


How This Feature Improves Customer Service

Asking for feedback and having it readily available on your website for potential customers shows that you value consumer opinions and are always trying to find ways to improve your products. Positive reviews from customers who have had an excellent experience with your brand are always welcome. But eliciting feedback is also an opportunity to apologize to upset, dissatisfied customers and possibly gain back their business. 

If you want to streamline in-store and online inventory, accounting, and customer service and feedback, retail software might be the right move for your business. Understanding the 5 best retail software features is a great starting point toward choosing the perfect software solution for your unique needs. But there is still work to be done—sit down with company stakeholders and decide what is most important to you when choosing a software solution.

Be sure to check out 6 best retail management books for building your success story.

Jason A’alona
Jason A’alona Director of Retail Sales

Jason A’alona is a retail professional at Podium, the leading messaging platform that connects consumer businesses with their customers.

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