Hi all, this is my first column for C-Store. 
I have been asked to share with you the benefits and types of technology that we use in our Southampton Welcome Co-op stores, so I do hope you find it helpful!

I often get asked about how and why we use the latest tech in our stores, and why technology is so important to today’s convenience store owner. Are you a technophobe?

In 2007 Apple launched the very first iPhone, and now more than 10 years later I would bet that most of you now have a smart phone (Apple or other). Clearly, a lot has changed. So now look at how you run your business today and compare it with 10 years ago: what has changed and what hasn’t? When did you last review how you operate your store? Why do you do each task? Maybe now is the time to review what you do and why.

We all know staff costs are key and, with increasing minimum wages, it worries me that retailers just look at cutting staff hours without first reviewing processes. Cutting hours without first reviewing what you and your employees are doing every day could be very damaging to your businesses. Over the past three or so years we have been looking into how we can reduce the amount of functions our staff complete – or in other words, make it simpler for them to do their jobs. For example, if you could save five minutes every day for the rest of your life by just spending two hours changing your systems once, I would like to think you would all jump at the chance.

You need only look at the Big Four – what major retailer does not have self-serve tills these days? They are making changes because they need to, to remain profitable. We need to do the same.

The retail food market is one of the most competitive, and we all need to adapt to remain successful. I like to think this is where we can thrive: technology can be our friend, helping to do the same thing, but taking less time. It does not need to be expensive to make a difference and that smart phone in your pocket can do a lot more than play Angry Birds. I hope that over the next few months I can share with you all a few of the things that we have done to make our stores run more smoothly.