The increase in online sales over the past few years marks a shift in the way consumers and businesses purchase products. But even with such a sea change, the in-person experience continues to play an important part in the purchase process, especially in the merchant sector where store expertise is often sought.
A trade counter that creates a great first impression, offering relevant advice, timely service and value for money has the power to improve sales and form long-lasting relationships with a wealth of b2b and b2c customers. So, what can be done to make sure your trade counter operation is as speedy, efficient and dependable as possible?
Below, we’ll look at this topic in more detail to see how you can get the most out of your trade counter in the future.
Getting the most out of your trade counter
An impressive trade counter maintains an organised and effective shopfront while the replenishment and organisation of warehouse stock ticks away in the background. To achieve this, consider carrying out some of the following approaches…
Space out your stock
Whatever you’re selling, an effective trade counter should have enough space for the stock you want your customers to buy. A trade counter that’s too busy can end up disguising and hiding goods from those visiting your store, which may cause them to visit others instead.
Laying things out in a clear, organised way that catches the eye can draw customers in and help them find what they’re looking for. Ensure your trade counter stocks the top sellers in each category at attractive price points with point of sale highlighting that if a customer doesn’t see the brand or product they need to just ask.
You could also consider investing in an online kiosk in store where users can browse your full range. When your trade counter staff see customers looking up products, this is a clear prompt for them to engage with your customer and help them find the product/s they need.
Optimise the visual aspects
The amount of space should also extend to the visuals you can use to market and brand your messaging, especially when it comes to short-term promotions, offers or new products. Have a think about using things like A-boards, slatwall panels, and dump baskets to highlight your stock in a way that keeps things neat and aesthetically pleasing. Just ensure that you don’t over clutter the space and your customers still have ample room to move around your store without tripping over floor displays etc.
Also, don’t forget the queue or front-desk area. This is a key space to sell those everyday items your customers always like to stock up on. While they are waiting in line, it’s an opportunity to sell!
Keep your warehouse moving
Behind the scenes, your warehouse should be moving like a well-oiled machine. That means optimising the logistics to make sure everything’s working as efficiently as possible.
If it’s attached to your shopfront, then you’ll want to have ease of access so that stock can be replenished when it’s needed. And by integrating your shopfront with the warehouse through the use of an ERP or business software solution that encompasses fully integrated trade counter software (more on this below), you’ll always have full visibility of what needs replenishing, what’s in stock, what the real-time lead times are etc., so your team and customers are accurately informed at all times.
What difference can integrated trade counter software make?
If it hasn’t been properly optimised, or you’ve fallen into some bad habits, then you might find that you’re wasting time at the trade counter. For instance, if your staff are still manually checking stock levels, customer pricing, rebates or using manual processes that lead to an increase in paperwork, then there’s a chance you’re drastically increasing the amount of time such interactions take. And in this day and age your customers just won’t accept this level of friction.
The right business or ERP software that includes a fully integrated trade counter and POS solution, however, can drastically reduce the time it takes to process an order or answer a query and help to reverse these losses. Simple to use, such software allows for speedy order processes that can be completed in no more than one or two clicks.
Here, we’ll take a look at how trade counter software can help benefit your operations.
Controlling margin at the point of sale
When you have multiple salespeople with varying levels of responsibility, it can be tough to monitor every sale. By setting up a maximum discount amount, or a maximum discount percentage, it becomes far easier to control what they’re selling and at what price. You can even set discount levels by customer for even greater control. You can also add in a margin ‘buffer’ to ensure margin is fully protected from trade counter staff who may feel compelled to offer customers the best price.
This type of functionality allows you to control the scope that users have to reduce pricing to acceptable levels. Depending on their seniority, you can allow employees to adjust the prices to suit your current sales conditions and in-store promos. Password-protected overrides can even be granted to more senior members of staff too. And if you want to see which staff member or customer is diluting your margin returns that information is immediately visible to you.
Such software also offers the ability to create workflows. For instance, discounts above a certain level can be sent to yourself or other senior staff for approval. And exceptions to the rule can also be set up; here, maximum discount levels for certain customers can be set to certain quantity breaks.
With modern integrated trade counter software you get a wide range of customisation capabilities. The only limit to the alterations you make to your margin/cost control rules, processes and procedures are the thresholds and requirements you put in place. Once you’ve decided on these parameters, everything is entirely controllable and configurable across the system. Including the user interface which can be streamlined for fast and efficient order processing.
Integrated trade counter software makes it easy for staff to see how far they can haggle with customers, which makes coming to an agreed discount or price a far simpler process. With this functionality your users can enter different prices into the system and it will immediately tell them what margin that price will return.
Plus, you can even highlight customer product histories to check up on things such as quotes, orders and deliveries, which allows you to identify and target opportunities to strike up deals with specific customers.
If you stock alternative products at a better margin, then your trade counter system can highlight these to your customer-facing staff at the point of contact or purchase. In these instances, they might find that the RRP is cheaper for your customer, but the margin percentage might be weaker for the business.
By setting up your system to offer alternatives if the original choice is no longer in stock, you can empower your staff to improve their selling approaches through prompts in regard to other products or special offers. The same applies for complementary selling, where one product is often bought together with another, your system can prompt sales personnel to offer these complementary products at the point of contact.
Increasing sales and improving customer relationships with POS software
Your trade counter offering is also improved further as your Trade Counter Point-of-Sale software links the storefront with the back-office system.
Some of the biggest benefits are noted below:
- Accommodation of different payment methods – Customers want to be able to pay using their preferred methods. POS software can cater to their needs by processing different payments, whether it’s by card or through mobile payments like Android and Apple Pay. Not all POS systems are equal though so make sure to check which payment methods are available to you when you’re looking to upgrade your software.
- Quicker transactions – A lengthy payment or returns process isn’t just frustrating for the person at the front of the queue, it can prove irritating for the long line behind them too. Cut down on the time your customers spend paying or returning their items – as well as the number of human errors your staff could be making – by using integrated trade counter POS software in-store.
- Fostering of loyalty – POS software can help increase customer loyalty if it includes a loyalty points scheme. Points can be built and then redeemed to pay for further items from your store or avail of special offers. Customers who know they’ll be rewarded for their custom, feel more compelled to remain loyal to your company.
- Creation of sales gift cards and redemptions – Similar to loyalty schemes, gift cards are another effective way of boosting sales and increasing positive relationships with your customers. Your POS system can help with their creation and management, offering another dimension to the shopping experience that they’ll appreciate.
Trusted by thousands, Intact iQ’s merchant software solutions include fully integrated trade counter POS functionality to ensure your trade counter, online and warehouse operation run smoothly and in sync Need to future-proof your business and be at your best? Find out how here or by getting in touch with us today.