Running an independent bookstore is a natural choice forged from a love of books and literature. Keeping your pulse on the literary trends in the industry and on the reading tastes of your community has kept the till full until now. Your passion and zeal for the books you sell have done well in your efforts to further engage your customer base. And, with book readings and signings on the calendar, you should feel like you are at the top of your game.
But then you review your ledger and find some startling realities. Profit margins remain razor-thin, revenues have plateaued, and your costs are expected to increase during the coming year. Competition continues to grow, and consumer expectations in today’s digital world are starting to place pressure on your current business model. You need to maneuver yourself into an updated business model using modern approaches to technology, but how?
As the ins and outs of running an independent bookstore have changed, so must the technology you use change with the times. The technical functionalities available for running independent bookstores in today’s business climate has changed the way things should be done. Processes in many cases can be automated, and the limitless pool of information at your fingertips should allow you to better align your inventory with customer demands.
Leaning on an Effective POS Solution to Improve Margins
The fact is that in order to meet the expectations of an increasingly diverse customer base requires you to ensure that your tech is up to speed. Customers expect to be able to easily browse your bookshelves at any point of the day regardless of if your lights or on or not. Also, they expect prices to be competitive and to feel that their shopping experience is personalized. They expect comfort and ease while browsing or reading in your store. In other words, they want your store to function as an extension of their home library.
Knowing the precise requirements of running an independent bookstore requires you to lean heavily on data. The collected information must be easily parsed and sorted into easy to read and use reports. It must allow you to easily translate identified trends into the events you host, the inventory you order, and the flow of traffic throughout the store. Shelves must be easy to reach, organized correctly, and must not possess a cluttered feel.
Utilizing the data provided by a highly functional POS software solution gives you the ability to create accurate financial and inventory forecasting. This enables you to take tighter control over your inventory while identifying potential problem areas in your processes. The ease of reporting in many of today’s POS platforms allows you to build a wider profit margin with a fraction of the effort.
Building the Right Inventory for the Right Customer
Running an independent bookstore requires you to construct your inventory to entice customers. This requires accurate data and advanced analytics. Leveraging the data you collect via your customer transactions and interactions empowers you to create a highly effective inventory management strategy that is fully centered on what the customer desires. This not only assures your customers that you will have the titles they are seeking, but it also minimizes the amount of stock that serves as dust collectors on your shelves and in the backroom.
A key benefit of leaning more heavily on a technologic solution in your store is in the cost reductions that can be realized across the board. Periodicals can be better aligned to customer tastes after analyzing data around customer spending habits and actual sales. You can also make a better determination if a newly released periodical or book would be a good fit in your store, based on genre sales history.
The information you gather from your POS system can make your book purchases more effective. By being in the know around the authors and titles will most appeal to your client base, you can realize cost savings through targeted bulk purchases. This will lower your initial costs for popular titles in your store, and will also give you a base on which to build potential in-store events or to coordinate author appearances for book signings and speaking engagements.
Running an Independent Bookstore Involves Rewards and Event Planning
Keeping your customers engaged and invested in the mission your bookstore is looking to accomplish is critical. Book seekers can easily go online to make their purchases but are drawn to your store for a variety of potential reasons. Once you have gained their attention, you must work diligently to retain the attention and entice them in ways your competitors cannot. While much of this can be done by simple observation or discussions, having the data to back up your intuition ensures success in your customer retention efforts.
Using the data you have collected, you can create a customer loyalty program to further drive sales. Your data will also allow you to engage in personalized sales and discounts, giving customers that personal touch they are seeking. Creating events or book sales featuring local authors that write in genres your customers most appreciate will drive traffic to your store. Building events and book clubs that all serve to deepen your customer relations when running an independent bookstore. They can even make you a pillar of the literary community in your area.
Managing Staff with Unique Skills Requires an Effective Approach
A great benefit of running an independent bookstore and developing your bookstore into the place to go for books and events is better-qualified applicants to man your store. As your reputation grows, so does the urge for prospective employees to be a part of your team. In a retail genre that requires in-depth knowledge around the products being sold, this is a business-boosting aspect that helps your business grow.
The staff that you employ becomes knowledgeable resources for incoming customers. They can also be empowered to use their skills to help you in further developing the reach of your bookstore’s brand. The deepening of relationships with your customers and the community will not go unnoticed, and you will see your name being spoken as the place to go for any book or publication needs.
Effectively managing your employees can be made easier through a POS solution that contains the right functionalities. You will see how a staff member’s customer service translates into sales. You can quickly identify and correct potential issues an employee may be having, such as incorrectly voiding items or processing returns. A modern POS solution helps you by automating many timekeeping and payroll processing tasks, minimizing inconsistent payments. Advanced scheduling functions make it easy to change staffing roles and shifts, assuring your customers that the right staff will always be on hand to help.
Running an Independent Bookstore Chain Starts With Tech
Using a highly capable and scalable POS software solution helps you to create the personalized feeling your customers crave and deserve. Not only will this help in driving traffic through your doors, but will allow you to gain key efficiencies in your daily tasks to widen those margins so you can begin breathing easier. An updated POS solution becomes the place where your store operations start and allows you to see all of the moving pieces of your business without the worry of missing any warning signs.
Seeking the help of an experienced POS consultant can give you the education you need to make the right choices for your business. From conducting a competitive analysis to streamlining processes, the financial benefits and boost to your reputation that can be achieved will be worth the initial costs and efforts. Your consultant will present to you a realistic viewpoint and will devise a solution so you can hit all of your goals.
Enlisting the help of an expert is crucial to properly identify and implement the perfect POS solution for you. At talech, we take the time to identify the key business challenges you face and aligning these to the technology that best suits your business. With a wide range of customizable features and flexible hardware options to choose from, you can feel confident knowing the system you’re implementing gives you the results you desire. Reach out to us today to sign up for a demo and to learn more about how talech can be your valued POS partner.