With a month into the new year, 2023 has yet to reveal what’s ahead in the world of retail. Rising inflation, supply chain disruption, and labor shortages were some of the challenges faced in 2022. Projected to continue well into 2023, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business confirms what we already know: “Although all companies are affected, given their size and the sector in which they operate, most small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) feel inflation more severely and relatively more than the average.” When it comes to these challenges, small businesses simply don’t have the resource buffer of big box stores to navigate rough waters.
What can be done to stay ahead in your retail business? The answer comes from POS system technology.
Retail technology is continuously evolving; finding innovative ways to navigate the ebb and flow of the retail industry. In January, the ClearTEQ team participated in the National Retail Federation’s 2023 Retail Big Show and the Retail Solution Providers Association 2023 Inspire Leadership Conference. At both events, we were able to meet with partners from around the globe to discuss emerging technology solutions for retailers. Some innovative solutions that stood out included:
AI Facial Recognition
Most new smart phones have the option to use facial recognition to unlock your device – now that technology is moving into the retail industry. Employees and customers are identified by scanning and measuring unique facial features. Authentication makes for quick employee logins, and offers customers the ability to verify age, earn loyalty points and make payments without the use of a card or device.
Shopping Cart Scanners
Taking self-checkout to a new level, smart shopping cart scanners are retrofitted to the top of existing store shopping carts. As customer’s shop, the purchase total is calculated as items are added or removed from the cart. Once their shopping is done, customers skip the checkout line by paying for their purchase with debit or credit card right at the cart.
Electronic Shelf Labels
Replacing the classic paper price label, electronic shelf labels are digital tags that display product information. Already in use by several big box stores, electronic shelf labels wirelessly connect to the store’s point of sale or label management system to quickly adjust prices and offer in-store marketing.
Tech Solutions for Local & Small Retailers
While these emerging technologies are cutting-edge and interesting, they can be pricey, especially for a small independently owned local business. However, store-focused, affordable POS system technology is available, and we’ve compiled 3 retail tech trends that can be implemented today to boost your business in 2023.
Mobile and card-based contactless payment technology continues to grow in popularity and security. These cashless payment options include chip-enabled debit and credit cards and digital wallets (such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay) where customers simply tap their card, smart phone, or smart watch near the reader, and are on their way. As customer demand for contactless payment options increases, so has the adoption rate by retailers: 80% of merchants surveyed for the National Retail Federation’s report The State Of Retail Payments in 2022 say they take Apple Pay or plan to do so within 18 months, followed by 65% for Google Pay.
If you aren’t currently accepting contactless payments, there are many options available. Look for a
a certified solution that has no hidden fees (such as statement or admin fees), and includes reliable technical support when you need it.
Cloud-based POS Systems
Traditional POS systems process and store data on a desktop computer located at your business. Cloud-based POS offer a different approach by processing payments over the Internet, and securely storing sales, inventory, and other important data remotely.
Many independently owned retail stores are moving to web-based POS for the convenience. With the ability to access-from-anywhere, cloud-based point of sale systems not only offer flexibility in how and where you serve your customers, but also the freedom to manage your business remotely. Online POS systems, such as ClearTEQ, also include automatic software updates and backups, and are securely hosted with a PCI DSS Level 1 Service Provider, saving the time and hassle of maintenance and PCI compliance. Cloud-based POS systems are typically priced with a monthly subscription fee, making the initial upfront investment significantly less.
Automated Inventory Control
For retailers with electronic cash registers that rely on end of period reports, shelf spot-checking and intuition to manually order products and adjust pricing, automated inventory control can be a game-changer. A POS system that includes inventory management features gives you the tools to monitor inventory in real-time and make informed and timely business decisions. Some features to look for include:
- Simple price setting based on target margin, to easily adjust as your inventory costs fluctuate.
- Minimum and maximum inventory quantities, to ensure you don’t invest in more inventory than you need.
- Instantaneous reporting and visual cues to alert you when inventory stock is low. For example, the Dashboard feature from ClearTEQ POS alerts you when inventory is below the desired minimum quantity, and gives the option to order directly from that screen.
According to Forbes Advisor’s Retail Inventory Best Practices, inventory management software and POS systems give you the ability to automate processes and understand how inventory is moving, which can lead to fewer errors, improved efficiency and increased productivity. And that sounds like money in your pocket.
As the year progresses, there will be continued disruptions, but we’re hopeful there will be some big wins as well. Investing in technology solutions that help you maximize profits, reduce labor time, and give the best customer service will serve as a buffer for whatever challenges 2023 will bring. The team at ClearTEQ is here to help you navigate the options for retail POS system technology solutions.