ENTREPRENEURSHIP / OCT. 23, 2014
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Protecting Your Business in the 21st Century: Using Technology to Safeguard Your Retail Venture

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If you run any sort of business you are bound to face challenges, and this is perhaps most true in a customer facing business like retail. Even as the retail sector has grown in recent months, operators have faced new challenges in terms of market saturation and intensified competition. Here in the 21 century, however, digital technology, gadgetry and innovation make these challenges easier to surmount than ever before.

Ultimately, technological advancement enables you to work smarter and more efficiently in the quest to minimise losses and maximize long-term profitability. This is especially important in the modern age, where a growing number of small businesses roll over and die as the internet and larger corporations draw customer focus away from independent ventures and startups. 

Here, we propose three great ways to protect your retail business by tapping into modern innovation and the evolution of technology: -

1. Use Analytical CRM Software to Retain your Consumer Base

In an increasingly competitive and diverse retail market, customer retention is central to long-term success. Once you have understood and successfully met the needs of your existing customers and developed a sense of brand loyalty, you can devote more of your time and resources into pursuing new market segments and expanding your venture. Retaining existing customers can be extremely challenging, however, especially as price comparison sites make it easier than ever to access the lower price points and real-time promotions of competing brands.

Contemporary analytical CRM software is therefore worth its weight in gold, as it is focused solely on increasing the value of customer interactions and creating higher levels of engagement. It is more precise, predictive and consumer-centric than operational CRM, and helps marketers to make productive decision that are based on the behaviour of customer demographics. In terms of the long-term retention of customers (which is arguably the single most important measure in safeguarding the future of your retail outlet), analytical CRM tools should initially be used to analyze product complaints and redress these issues as quickly as possible to drive an improved consumer experience.

2. Protect your Online Operation with Reputable Hosting Firms

Whether your store uses tills that are connected to the internet, or you use the web to source stock from your providers, operating on the internet opens your company up to all number of potential threats. Therefore, if you are running a web-based computing system of any kind, ensure that you have a good internet security package, that you back-up your files regularly and that you keep your system locked, as this prevents an unknown member of the public from infecting your online systems. By adopting this ethos you can create a culture of awareness and responsibility, while safeguarding your everyday business activity.

While operating aspects of your business online can help to reduce costs and boost efficiency, you must ensure that you have the necessary security in place prior to completing financial transactions and storing sensitive data. To commence this process, consider conducting independent reviews of reputable web hosting services, paying particular attention to those that operate multiple private servers and offer 24 hour network support to clients. This ultimately means that any enforced down-time can be successfully minimized, while security can be sustained throughout the entire working day for firms with an international consumer base.

3. Consider Integrating Multiple Security Systems to Protect your Retail Space

The One Sure Insurance blog underlines the importance of securing commercial coverage for your retail space, which makes perfect sense given that this represents your brands most important physical asset. Retail entrepreneurs must also take proactive measures to protect their shop fronts, primarily by implementing preventative measures that minimise the risk of theft, robbery or vandalism. This requires a certain degree of creative thinking, particularly when you consider that the majority of independent retailers continue to use traditional, remotely monitored burglar alarms that are not entirely fit for purpose.

The issue with this technology is that there is a high prevalence of false alarms, which can impact negatively on response times and even incur penalty fees in some instances. This will make your retail business vulnerable to future attacks, and with this in mind it is far more productive to install an integrated alarm system that incorporates CCTV monitors, video analytics and access control devices. The main benefit of this is that the presence of video analytic software can help to distinguish between genuinely suspicious activity and false alarms, which in turn will improve the efficiency of your security system and drive more effective response times. Knowledgeable and experienced thieves will also recognise the difference between an outdated security system and an integrated one, and this may serve as an effective deterrent to opportunistic operators.

The Last Word

While some of these measures may require an initial investment, it is important to adopt a long-term view and consider whether or not they are likely to deliver tangible financial returns. You must also bear in mind the impact that losing customers, succumbing to online fraud and  sustaining damage to your retail outlets will have on your future growth, as these are costs that must also be factored in to your ultimate decision. 

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