5 ways Builders' Merchant Software can Drive Sales
Today’s customers remain extremely price conscious and value for money is still an essential prerequisite for consumers. But so too is providing eCommerce webshops, click and collect facilities and/or contactless payment/delivery options for the new low-touch economy we live in.
From selling online to creating innovative pricing, discounts and promotions, we’ve outlined just some of the ways builders' merchants can drive more sales. Not only will you improve your sales but you'll also add value to your overall customer service.
1. Take advantage of new sales channels
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, consumers are doing their research online before they ever hit your store. They’re looking for the best price, the most convenient place to purchase and how quickly they can get what they want.
Some hardware stores offer a click and collect service where customers come in with the exact code of the product they’re looking for. This is because they’ve done all their research and know exactly what they want. If collecting doesn’t suit them, they get what they want delivered instead. Simple.
This highlights the importance of reaching more people online and selling through an eCommerce website. It also offers a great opportunity to upsell featured items, discount ranges and related products.
Integrating a B2B or B2C ecommerce website to your ERP (enterprise resource planning) system allows for the seamless movement of data between your back office operations and your online store. It’s a great way of generating additional revenue 24/7 but it is not something you can turn on at the flick of a switch.
Your investment will reflect the level of complexity required and the overall digital strategy you wish to pursue. While many businesses choose the path of least resistance and simply duplicate their ERP data on to an independent website, this unfortunately can result in huge issues with data duplication, human error and timing problems.
When done right, an integrated webshop will see you managing a single database where all stock information, pricing and products are updated in real-time on your web store as changes are made in your back office system.
If a B2B or B2C ecommerce website is too much to take on, there are other quick and easy ways to get online. Providing customers with an online account management portal can enable them to access quotes, invoices, statements and pay their bill online. Or you could extend this offering to also include repeat ordering from your b2b customers. These options get your business online without the complexities of a full blown ecommerce website. A key point here however is to ensure these digital platforms are designed and built to fully connect with your core business software solution.
2. Set Up a Customer Loyalty Program
It’s no secret that loyalty programs are effective marketing tools. They enhance the overall value offered to the customer, help to retain customers and improve your brand’s reputation. If you haven’t yet employed a loyalty program into your business, you may be missing out on one of the best and easiest tools available to improve your business.
Loyalty schemes can be a great way to differentiate your business in a crowded marketplace. Getting pushed into increasing dynamics of low margin and high fixed costs is a situation that is bound to result in a price war, stripping profits from your business.
While you do need a system that supports running a loyalty program, once it is set up it stops being work. You simply design a special card that allows customers to get a certain number of points for every purchase that corresponds to the amount of money they spend. Your customers can then utilise these cards to get free gifts or additional discounts on subsequent purchases.
This method is highly effective and is proven to work. The biggest supermarket chains have recorded a record number of sales over the years - and so can you.
Don’t forget vouchers or gift cards are also great marketing tools.
- They enable you to reach consumers you typically may not have reached and represent a means of stimulating additional purchases.
- They are highly targeted and the receiver is certainly motivated to use them, making it an even more efficient method of offering your services to others.
- They are personal proposals of satisfied customers, building your business’s credibility and reputation.
3. Access live, accurate information to exceed customer expectations
How many times have you sent a potential customer away when your system wrongly tells you the item they were looking for is not in stock when it actually is? Too many businesses are relying on inaccurate outdated information at the point of customer contact which has a huge impact on how customers view your business. This can happen when you juggle multiple systems where data duplication and errors are common place.
One way to elevate this is to work with a back office system that truly integrates with your point of sale software. Trade counter personnel deal with a wide variety of queries from numerous sources. The ability to access stock level information quickly at the POS is a fundamental requirement and your systems should support this.
The single most attractive benefit of an integrated POS system is of course having access to live data at the point of customer contact. You have no need to doubt the information you are receiving or worry that everything has been updated. Your data is completely up-to-date and accurate ensuring your counter staff have access to the information they need when they need it.
This can include real-time access to…
- Customer balances
- Customer credit limits (of actual and committed debt)
- Stock information
- Customer price lists
Accurate, real-time and up to date stock control is also critical to your business. Your business software is key to managing this aspect of your business. By knowing accurately what stock you have, you can avoid time consuming processes such as dealing with customer queries, issuing credit notes and re-stocking.
With the right systems in place you’ll also find end users empowered to make immediate decisions to carry out their job with maximum efficiency using custom order entry menus. A more effective staff and better customer service can lead to increased sales.
4. Develop innovative pricing, discounts and promotions to attract people into your store
When it comes to increasing retail sales, it pays to be creative. These days you are competing with online stores that offer customer reviews, product information and product comparisons to consumers within a matter of minutes. So how can you compete with this high-level of information sharing and increase sales in your store?
One potential strategy to combat this is to maximise the vast amount of customer and product information you've built up over the years. As mentioned above the right business software and POS system can empower employees and customers with the information at the right time, transforming the shopping experience so it is convenient and easy.
The right systems can speed up order processing and utilise a customer’s purchase history to suggest products. At the customer point of contact, you should use every opportunity to upsell featured products, discounted items or related products; something not all staff are encouraged to do. Amazon do this very successfully. With a fully integrated POS system in your store, you can replicate this on the ground.
We also suggest that you gather consumer data to predict purchase patterns and deliver relevant content. Customers are always on the lookout to save money - package deals are a great way to appeal to them, make more money and move more products at the same time.
Got lots of stock sitting on the shelves for ages? Again, this ties up money that could be better spent elsewhere in your business. Running a report to see how long a product has been on the shelf and how many have been sold since they were bought can be a great help. This will help you uncover slow-moving stock so that you can get them up to the front of your premises and sell them off with a special offer.
5. Improve your store’s appearance
Ok, so this is not exactly business software related but it's key a component to driving sales nevertheless.
When you visit leading builders’ providers’ stores, you must notice how effectively they have managed their products. The trendy display stands showcase products in a standardised way that make their products very appealing.
First impressions are key to increasing a consumer’s likelihood of buying (and returning). A good first impression starts with your storefront. Clean windows, attractive displays and good lighting increase visibility inside your store. For people driving or walking by who only have seconds to view your storefront, simple things like this can give the appearance of a more pleasant shopping experience.
Broken shelves, untidy displays and dirty floors won’t cut it anymore. Not when customers are doing more and more of their shopping online or heading straight to the big stores with their ambient lighting and spacious aisles.
Keeping your store clean, tidy and organised is an important aspect of ensuring a customer’s visit is a pleasant one. A well-kept and tidy store increases the chance of a return visit or customer recommendation.
Ideally, you’re looking to…
- Deliver a unique and memorable retail environment where customers feel comfortable to linger and browse.
- Create not just a shopping experience but an entire brand experience.
- Increase customer loyalty and repeat purchase
- Differentiate yourselves from your competitors
- Increase profits
These 5 sales drivers represent only a fraction of what you can do to improve your sales. One thing is certain though, the systems you have in place are key to taking advantage of a growing economy and an increase in consumer spend.