Operating a boutique with limited time and resources takes a lot of energy. Having the right retail technology in place can help you maximize your time and make your life easier. But with so many retail solutions out there, how do you prioritize the ones that will be most helpful for growing your boutique business?
We’ve got you covered. Here are five retail tools that will empower you to do more with less as you grow your boutique from the ground up.
1. An eCommerce store
Here’s the truth: Every boutique needs an online store. This used to be considered a “nice-to-have” feature, but it is now a requirement for boutique success. In many cases, it will be your customer’s first experience of your brand.
Your online store acts as an easily accessible, 24-hour, always-on catalog, even for your local customer, and you should take the same care with it that you would with a brick-and-mortar location.
You need good product information, enticing photos, and an entertaining blog that you can share via social media, email, and other marketing channels. The more you share your online store, the more your customers will start browsing online, even if they ultimately make the purchase at your brick-and-mortar location.
There are several user-friendly platforms, such as Shopify, that make it easy and cost-effective to sell online. Show your customers that you value customer choice and convenience by building out your online inventory and ensuring your eCommerce site is glitch-free and easy to navigate.
Online stores can easily connect to your other core retail platforms, making them much easier to manage than you might think!
2. A point-of-sale solution
Shoppers have come to expect a higher level of service—and this is exactly where boutiques excel. A dedicated point-of-sale (POS) system makes it easier for your in-store team to provide excellent customer service.
Your POS system should enable you to easily manage inventory and product purchasing, check out customers and take payments, track customers, and run reports to help you gauge performance.
Most POS solutions easily integrate with the other platforms you use. This means the data you collect in your POS system can support all other aspects of your business, including online sales, accounting, and marketing. Lightspeed and Springboard are two choices that are popular with growing boutiques.
Already have a POS system? Make sure you and your team are making the most of your POS solution in order to deliver the smoothest possible shopping experience and gain valuable insights about your customers.
3. User-friendly accounting software
Accounting is a critical part of business success. It’s not just about making money; it’s also about managing your costs so you can stay profitable. Low-cost, online accounting platforms such as Quickbooks and Xero integrate with your online store and POS system to help you make informed financial decisions. These solutions generate easy-to-read reports of your company’s operations, including net sales, profit margins, overhead costs, and accounts payable, so you can effectively manage your cash flow and grow your business.
Even with the right platform, bookkeeping and accounting can become a huge headache for business owners. Luckily, there’s a community of accountants who specialize in supporting these platforms and who can manage your accounting for a modest cost. Most platforms have a Partner Network where you can find a local expert to manage your bookkeeping so that you can focus on the many other important parts of your business.
4. A marketing automation solution
Marketing is time-intensive for boutiques and can get pushed to the back burner, especially if you have a small team. But in the early stages of growing a boutique, marketing plays a critical role in your success.
Social marketing, SMS, chat, and email are huge drivers of sales for successful boutique brands. Social and email are great places to focus, and these platforms reinforce each other well. There are a number of cost-effective tools to choose from that can help you save time on marketing, including Mailchimp, Klaviyo, and Drip. Some can integrate with online sources and your POS system, allowing you to create smarter marketing campaigns that use purchase data, making them much more effective.
Marketing automation platforms also make it easier to market your boutique to a relevant, interested audience online. This allows you to engage with the right customers and get more out of your marketing efforts.
How well do you know your customers? How well do your customers know you? Getting closer to your customers and creating a recognizable brand comes down to the details—music included.
Merchandising is important, but so is the overall atmosphere of your store. Music helps set the tone for the customer experience, so be sure to curate playlists for your store that reflect your brand. Is it acoustic coffee shop music? Top 40 songs? Instrumental only?
“The best retail store music is actually music you don’t really remember. The best music creates an atmosphere that enchants you, but it remains below the level of consciousness,” says Jasmine Moradi, an in-store music researcher with Soundtrack Your Brand.
Moradi goes on to say that “background music is coming into its right as the important marketing channel it deserves to be. It’s transforming from functional elevator background music to much more emotional foreground music.”
Some brands, such as Iron & Resin, even go so far as to publish their playlists every week so that customers and brand enthusiasts can enjoy their music picks anytime. Pay special attention to the music you choose, and remember: Your staff are the ones who will be listening to it all day long. Ask for their feedback, and don’t be afraid to branch out if your current music choices aren’t resonating.
By adopting useful technology in the five areas of eCommerce, POS, accounting, marketing automation, and music, you can save time and energy on the business side and deliver a better experience for your customers. Win-win.