Which software is right for your small business?

Running a business isn’t easy, especially if you’re trying to manage each process manually. There are thousands of different low-cost (sometimes free) software solutions on the market. It’s not always obvious what solutions exist for a multi-channel retail business as the start to grow.

This guide is those small businesses not yet quite large enough to take on a full ERP software solution. We’re breaking down various elements of an ERP solution, highlighting areas for which you may want to consider finding a stop-gap solution that can address that individual need. Once you’re ready, you’ll progress to bringing it all together into one place, with a solution like Khaos Control.

The areas we’re looking at today include: Service Tracking, Accounts, Sales Pipeline, Channel Integrations, Stock Control, Promotion Tracking, Supply Chain Management, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Reporting and Customer Returns.

These are our recommended solutions for 2021.

Service Tracking

Some small businesses need to track the services they deliver to customers. Service tracking software allows for appointments to be booked, worked to be invoiced and expenses to be recorded. Although service tracking is directly related to multi-channel retail, this may be how many aspiring online selling businesses will start out. Key features of service tracking software:

  • Automatically schedule work
  • Gain instant financial information
  • Easily access and update worksheets
  • Track your expenses and invoices
  • Key business insights via dashboard
  • Find important data in an instant

Our recommendation: www.myserviceplanner.com

Accounts

Accounting systems are obligatory in any business, so having the right one and understanding why you need it is key. An accounting package can take the tedium out of your regulatory responsibilities, in terms of tax returns, selling into other countries and doing your end of year filing.

You need to be making sure the data you collect daily is accurate and of a good quality. Once collected, it needs to be entered in the right places, so that summaries can be produced quickly, and everything is available for auditing and compliance. Many small businesses run perfectly well with only an accounting package, until they need to become more sophisticated and upgrade to an ERP with advanced accounts management. Some key features:

  • Overview of business income and expenditure
  • Stay compliant with your VAT and Tax Returns
  • Cloud-based, allowing remote management of finances
  • Automate reconciliations and other manual processes
  • Extract key data and create comprehensive reports

You may want to consider: www.xero.co.uk or www.quickbooks.com

Sales Pipeline

A sales pipeline tool will allow you to easily keep track of prospects and their current quotes. These sales tools allow you to see what your “weighted pipeline value” is, meaning that your outstanding quotations will be assessed based on their chance to convert and an overall value will be presented based on these chance outcomes. These tools also allow you to monitor your sales team, so that conversations around “next steps” can take place, increasing your chances of landing more deals. They are also useful for sales managers looking for greater insights into KPIs across their team. Key features:

  • Manage leads and deal stages
  • Track customer communications and orders
  • Create reports and set goals
  • Work-on-the-go access for your sales team
  • Safely store client details

You may want to consider: www.pipedrive.com

Channels Integrations

When starting out in the world of multi-channel retail, it’s important to be able to manage you channels effectively. There are many products available that will allow you to do this. Logging in and out of different marketplaces is ineffcient and prone to error. Without some level of unity, it’s hard to provide a consistent level of data quality and customer service. When you’re ready for a solution like Khaos Control, you will also gain the ability to synchronise stock levels across all channel to prevent overselling and improve efficiencies; until then a stand-alone channel management package will suffice. Key features:

  • Build a catalogue of content
  • Manage orders from eBay, Amazon, Shopify, Etsy, WooCommerce, BigCommerce
  • Streamline your customer Communications
  • Optimise your buying experience
  • Automate your shipping process

Our recommendation: www.channelgrabber.com

Stock Control

Stock control is key, there’s no doubt. The question is when you do you need it? It’s all about what’s manageable, i.e. the number of products in your range and how many of each you deal with on a daily basis. When a business starts, you can “see” your stock level, and as it grows, doing a simple count is easy. Then as you progress, making a note in a spreadsheet of “ins and outs” will be sufficient. However, there comes a point, which inevitably sneaks up on you, when you can no longer effectively keep track and errors starts to creep in. With a good stock control system behind your business, you can access up-to-date data on what your bestselling products are, how much profit you’re making, and what purchasing decisions you might want to make as a result.

  • Prevent running out of stock
  • Control stock across various selling platforms
  • Know what sells and what doesn’t
  • Make sure stock is ordered so that it can arrive in time to be sold
  • Reduce stocking errors

You may want to consider: MS Excel, Google Sheets

Still using spreadsheets to manage your business?

We don’t doubt that excel can be a great tool to manage certain areas of your business. However, as your operation and team starts to grow, issues like double data handling, manual entry errors, as well as a heavy admin burden are all but inevitable. With Khaos Control, everything becomes simple.

Make the Change

Promotion Tracking

Giving your customers incentive to buy from you will always be a necessary form of selling. Customers expect the occasional deal, and in order to compete, you’ll need to be canny when it comes to offering the right enticements that don’t result in giving away too much.

The key to successful promotions is two-fold: first you need to be able to target the right people with the right offering. Second is being able to track the success of each campaign so that lessons can be learned and taken forward into future promotions. If you don’t have these abilities, then you are simply firing off promotions every time and hoping for the best. Would it not be better to be able to target a certain demographic of customers that have bought products from you in the past and are therefore more likely to buy a related product? With the right software, you’re able to see which campaigns work (are they profitable) and how to increase the life-time value of customers to maximise revenue over time.

  • Target the right customers
  • A/B split test promotions
  • Know campaign profitability
  • Make the most from existing customers
  • Stay ahead of your competition without too many loss-leaders

Our recommendation: www.voucherify.io

Supply Chain Management

Giving your customers what they want, when they want it, all whilst spending as little money as possible is the goal of any successful supply chain – especially for a small business. For most businesses just starting up, relationships and carefully managing lead times with suppliers is key. What a system will allow you to do is manage these lead times effectively, allowing you to always be one step ahead of your next order. Have it laid out clearly what you’re running low on, what extra packaging you might need soon, and how long its going to take to get to you.

For businesses that are limited with storage space, drop shipping is a great option that can normally be managed from with a supply chain tool. For those unaware, drop shipping allows entrepreneurs to start an online business and sell products without ever actually stocking the items themselves. Instead, the business purchases their stock from a third party and has it shipped directly to the customer. This is a business model that any well performing supply chain tool will allow you to manage.

Likewise, a good supply chain tool will allow you to keep track of important supplier and courier information, transactions, as well as keeping an eye on performance through a designated supplier tracking tool. This is perfect for businesses dealing with multiple suppliers and trying to get smarter with their purchasing decisions.

  • Keep track of returns and exchanges
  • Automate your processes
  • Easily facilitate drop shopping
  • Get orders right, every time, and keep your customers happy
  • Get smarter with your purchasing decisions

Our recommendation: www.wdgcorp.com

CRM

Customer service and customer journey should be at the centre of any business – especially when you’re running a business with limited members of staff. A customer relationship management tool provides the ability to track, manage and analyse every individual you deal with either in-store, or via your website (in the form of live chats, or just classic emails). Customer data is more sensitive than ever, so a proper CRM tool will ensure you’re storing that customer data safely and in accordance with GDPR regulations.

A CRM will also prove particularly useful if you’re selling on more than one platform. For those selling on multiple marketplaces, or both online and in-store, keeping track of your different selling outlets is key. Naturally, as your business grows, your customer data base will increase. One thing that will remain the same is the level of service your customers are expecting from you. With the power of software and automation behind you, you’re able to deliver a consistent experience to customers, regardless of the chaos behind the scenes.

  • Manage leads and opportunities
  • Log calls, details, and additional information
  • Manage forms and live chats
  • Generate automated responses
  • Make use of email marketing
  • Create marketing lists based on your customer database

Our recommendation: www.hubspot.com/products/crm

Reports

As your business continues to grow, it’s vital to start recording and reporting on the data running through your different departments. Whether that’s measuring KPI’s or running monthly reports on your best performing channels, it’s important to have a tool that allows you to easily compile all your data. Once you have the results laid out in front of you, you can start thinking about adjusting your budgets, your expenses, and maybe finding areas that need more of your attention.

As far as reports on your accounts, you’re able to see an overview of your cash flow how much money has moved in and out of your business during the period you’re looking at, profit/loss for the same period as well as information on your assets, liabilities, and the equity of your business. Moreover, a great reporting system should allow you to slice and dice your data into segments, allowing you to cross reference data, dates and more.

  • Upload data in CSV, TSX, XLS and HTML formats
  • Report across all areas of your business
  • Visualise your data on dashboards
  • Share and export reports in second
  • Shape your strategy on informed numbers and reports
  • Drill down into data, dates and trends

Our recommendation: https://www.phocassoftware.com/solutions/for-retail

Returns

As your business grows and you receive more orders, its likely you’ll start to receive more returns and exchanges too. Returns management software not only saves the labour time of keying in each individual return (and the likelihood of manual errors), but it gives you the opportunity to start identifying trends. Once you start identifying these trends, you’re then able to make changes to suppliers, couriers, or even the way your customer service team operates.

  • Process customer returns instantly
  • Keep track of returns to identify serial returners and product issues
  • Turn returns into an opportunity for excellent service

Need a software solution that brings it all together?

Khaos Control have been helping small and large businesses across the UK
streamline their operations in one central system. From inventory, returns, multichannel order processing to integrated ICAEW accredited accounting, our different products give businesses the confidence to thrive.

Khaos Control Cloud (KCC), a browser-based ERP application is a lightweight solution perfect for small or medium businesses. Khaos Control (KC), a Windows-based ERP application is suitable for large businesses turning over significant amounts and operating across multiple sites.

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