The numbers are in and the retail industry is counting the heavy cost of 2018.
What a year it was – British shops reportedly endured their worst Christmas since the financial crash of 2008. It seemed no brand was immune, with the likes of Debenhams, Marks and Spencer and even John Lewis giving profit warnings and resorting to heavy discounting to pump up profits.
Even the government began to step in towards the end of year by announcing a cut in business rates to help out the high street. Sadly moves like this won’t save every retailer which means that businesses are going to need to think creatively about how to reduce their overheads if they’re going to weather another tough year of trading.
To help you plot a steadier path through 2019, we’ve put together a few ways we think retailers can cut their costs. These are smart ways to increasing margins, reshuffling resources and using technology to get business in better shape for the future.
Ship from store is just one example of how you can make your bricks and mortar stores work harder – even when they haven’t got any customers in them! Savvy retailers with physical premises are using them to fulfil web orders with staff taking the stock off shelves and posting it directly from the store. Brands using such models have realised it results in quicker delivery times and reduces the expense of running costly out-of-town distribution centres by making more efficient use of their existing stock and staff.
Knowing what new tools to invest in over the next year can be baffling but one thing is for certain – for your operations to work everything needs to be accessed online. Investing in better connectivity and tools that keep your customers and staff in the loop is the wisest way to invest your cash in 2019. It will not only speed up your business, cut costs and make it more efficient but also lay the foundations for tools of the future which all rely on virtual connection.
Forward-thinking retailers are increasingly automating their operations by replacing manual repetitive tasks with automated solutions. They’re using sensors to re-order stock in the warehouse, using chatbots to field queries online and keeping customers in the loop about the progress of their order with real-time delivery updates. These automated tweaks to their operations reduce overheads, make business more efficient and improve customer service at the same time.
Technology today is all about multi-use tools – just take the smartphone as an example: it’s a device that lets you browse, call, email and use a multitude of apps all from one device. You don’t want to have to switch between tools to perform tasks these days – your software should be integrated. Making sure you only use technology that serves more than one purpose will save you time and the cost of investing in multiple platforms when one tool does it all.
Adopting these principles throughout your business will mean you’re preparing your operations for the future. These changes will result in healthier margins, better service and leave you in better shape to take on 2019.
Our multi-drop delivery software is just one example of a tool that can help you achieve all of these things. The delivery planning software will help you schedule drops, find the most efficient routes, automate customer updates and guide the driver to their destinations using one interface. It’s tools like this that help the retail industry and its suppliers cut costs, streamline operations and survive whatever the economy throws at them in the next year.