We live in a digital age and nothing reflects that more than the technology surroundings us. More and more retailers (from supermarkets to newsagents, for example) are investing in a wide range of technologies that offer an omnichannel shopping experience to their customers. Technology such as electronic point of sale systems with an integrated e-commerce solution can help shop owners manage their stock whilst competing with bigger retailers online.
Last year, small stores saw an increase of £400 million going through their tills, according to the Association of Convenience Shops (ACS). The local shop sector is now worth £37.7 billion and technology is contributing to this rising figure, allowing each and every corner shop the opportunity to own a share of this billion-pound market.
Big brands usually have a bigger budget, allowing them to plunge into digital marketing and invest in and trial new technology as soon as practicable. Smaller stores tend to take a more cautious approach.A study conducted by the Independent Achievers Academy (IAA) says that 57% of local shops have still not invested in social media, which means they might be losing out on many opportunities.
Amongst those who do, not everyone appears to be as active as they would like to be. But with customers spending approximately three hours online every day, local retailers need to put as much effort into their digital presence as they do their physical one.
How Can Technology Help?
The growth of e-commerce shows no signs of stopping and retailers who do not invest in technology might not be able to remain competitive in the market. And it’s not only the technology itself that matters but the way it’s used. This is because different shops have different requirements and should, therefore, invest in technologies that will provide the best results for their stores.
For instance, some shop owners use in-store screens whilst others rely heavily on social media to boost sales. Many invest in innovative EPoS technology to identify the best-selling products and when they are most commonly purchased.
What works in one store might not work in another, so it’s vital to know what is best suited for your own corner shop. Jake Hardy, the owner of Number Six in London, believes that small stores can flourish if they focus on different stock than big retailers and if they take advantage of the latest technology to engage with consumers. He says that “technology is a great leveller for any small store. Anyone with an iPad can now have an app such as Vend, which works like a till, and gives immediate notification of sales so you know what’s popular, what your stock levels are and what you should be ordering at the touch of a button.”
The retail sector is constantly changing. As time goes by, shops transform and evolve from what they used to be. Where before there were many small family-owned stores, retail has now shifted to big brands and department stores, putting corner shops that don’t adapt to the rise of the digital age at risk.
Technology is providing opportunities to both small and large retailers and it’s important for smaller retailers to take advantage of this fact. Whether it’s in the supply chain, the in-shop operations or the customer service, technology can give stores an edge over the competition.