Now, more than ever, we are living in a virtual world. Increasingly, merchants of all sizes are recognizing the need to offer their good for sale online. You aren’t alone if you’ve been finding the transition a frustration, if not a downright struggle.
One of the biggest hurdles right now is online ordering—many businesses are reporting trouble adopting the ability to quickly and efficiently place online orders to fill their inventory or take online orders to supply their customers.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be so frustrating. Now is a great time to invest in a new online ordering system for small business. If you’ve had enough of the bugs and endless menus of an outdated system, there are a few key features you need to look for when upgrading to a more user-friendly version.
We’re all online together
No crisis, no matter how global in nature, was ever going to stop us from shopping for too long. While many parts of the economy experienced a dramatic downturn in the immediate future, there is light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, the tunnel itself isn’t nearly as long as you might have feared. The U.S. is already expected to exceed retail growth of pre-pandemic proportions within four years.
In the meantime, the advice is uniform across the board—get online.
Of course, it’s not enough to merely access the digital marketplace, you must do so in an effective manner, otherwise you’re just wasting resources and potentially frustrating your customers. It’s a feeling many of us are already experiencing. An estimated one-third of retailers are struggling with computer glitches while trying to place online orders, while others are complaining about the length and complexity of online ordering, and the difficulty in finding what they want on DIY websites.
The two phases of online ordering systems for small business
The majority of small business owners will find themselves in the middle of a two-way online ordering connection. They’ll be sourcing goods to fill their shelves—be they virtual or otherwise—and they’ll be selling those goods on to their customers.
By no means does that imply you should be using two distinct online systems. Instead, you can achieve both goals within the same platform by adopting a digital POS system as the backbone of your in-store and online worlds.
Here’s how a POS solution can solve both online ordering needs if it contains the right features.
Virtual, automated purchase orders
A digital POS solution is a mix of in-store hardware and online cloud-based software. While we’re focusing on the digital side at the moment, it is good to know your in-store customer experience will still benefit from features your upgraded system will include.
Immediately, the must-have features of an online ordering system for small business are:
2. Cloud connectivity
3. Data reporting
Automation not only saves you time and frees you from the tedium of repetitive tasks, it also improves the accuracy of those tasks. With the right POS solution, you can set inventory thresholds that link to live sales events and then trigger either emailed warnings or direct-to-supplier requests.
This link between sales and inventory is made possible by the accessibility of cloud-based platforms. Each business app is connected to the other in a comprehensive network that gives you clarity across your entire enterprise. You can also access this suite of tools from any connected device, at any time, and anywhere.
Finally, this easy-to-use, touch-screen assembly of software can tell you exactly how each dollar you spend results in ROI. Data science reports can be generated to track sales, streamline spend, and ensure everything you bring into your store goes out in the hands of a customer.
This digital flow is especially powerful when those customers are on the other end of an internet connection.
User-friendly, accurate web presence
If you hadn’t realized it yet, then the COVID-19 challenge must have convinced you—every small business needs an online presence. Digital browsing will never replace the excitement of tactile shopping, but for the time being digital connections are the safest and most effective.
To successfully satisfy your customer’s need to shop you’ll need a POS system with three key features:
1. Intuitive, engaging navigation
2. Up-to-the-minute inventory accuracy
3. Depth of choice
The user interface is everything to online shoppers. Your POS subscription should include guidance and support in designing a clear, enticing web presence that takes the shopper click-by-click through your entire catalog. Simplicity is key, so make sure your website works just as well on a tiny smartphone screen as it does on a large PC.
Everything the customer sees is for sale—whether you’ve got it ready to ship or not. Avoid the emotional cost of disappointing your would-be digital regulars by linking your on-screen display with your in-store inventory. While eCommerce sales have understandably risen overall, there has been a 248% jump in buy online, pick up in-store sales lately as customers get frustrated with delivery delays. Such an option also encourages connections with local shoppers, so it pays to be flexible.
That flexibility extends to your entire online operation. The internet is as vast as the stars so make sure every article and every subsequent size, style, color, and material is on display. So long as your customer can logically delve deeper and deeper into your offerings, they’ll find something of value.
Hit on those six features listed above and you’ll be well on the way to surviving the COVID-19 downturn within the power of a new online ordering system. What’s more, when you emerge on the other side, you’ll have a state-of-the-art business hub ready to impress your returning shoppers.
Learn more about how talech, a U.S. Bank company, can help your small business sell online and get important tools for running your business.