Retailers are increasingly embracing mobile technology to help run their businesses as apps become better tailored to retailers’ needs.
Anx Patel, a former Nisa retail development manager, recently launched the GoKart app to help retailers order online more easily. The app, which has more than 200 users, allows retailers to order stock via their mobile phone across various suppliers.
He believes this type of technology can save hundreds of man hours. “Retailers generally have to deal with 50 to 60 different suppliers and this can take hours in the back office, which is time away from the shop floor,” he said.
“When testing the app, I worked with a retailer who took three hours to create a 300-item order the traditional way, while it takes only 15 minutes using GoKart.”
Jai Singh of Singh’s Premier in Sheffield has long been a fan of mobile technology in retail. He uses free messaging service WhatsApp to communicate with staff.
“WhatsApp is becoming an increasingly useful business tool,” he said. “I use it to send instant group messages to all of the staff when we get an order for a home delivery so that we all know what needs to be done. It’s also free to send pictures, so if I’m out of the store the staff use it to send me images of new displays that they’ve created.”
Nisa retailer Saki Ghafoor says mobile technology gives him more flexibility when running his business. He uses a dashboard app which allows him to access his back office while on the move.
“It doesn’t necessarily save me time at the store, but it means I can check on something at any time and don’t have to be at the store myself,” he said.
Anx believes that the growth in the number of smartphones has helped retailers use the technology to their advantage. “Most people upgrade their phone every three years so they’re more used to new technology, and the fact they can order stock 24-hours-a-day and don’t have to be sitting at a computer helps them run their business better,” he added.
Tuning into digital
It’s not just mobile technology that retailers are getting to grips with. As well as 38% of retailers now using the internet for their business, 55% of retailers are actively using digital media in their business, according to HIM, with 78% of these seeing sales directly boosted as a result of using digital tools. In one case study utilising two products with the same rrp and case size, HIM saw a 73% week-on-week uplift in sales of the product they promoted on a digital display, while sales of the other remained static.
”I use Google Calendar to manage my staff rota and to-do list. If I’m at home and I think of something that needs to be done at the store, I can use my phone to upload it and staff will know about it.”
Sid Ali, three Nisa stores in Aberdeenshire
”The Spar app allows us to tailor our promotions to customers and show what we’re doing differently to other stores.”
Peter Ewing, manager, Spar North Hill, Devon