Convenience retailers can benefit from back office software that simplifies their operations and helps them deliver great service.

It’s been nearly 100 years since the Southland Ice Company birthed the modern-day convenience store when it added everyday items like bread and milk to its inventory of ice blocks. Today, that same company, 7-Eleven, is the largest c-store chain in the world, with thousands of sites around the globe.

The industry has evolved quite a bit since its early days, resulting in larger, multifaceted operations designed to keep up with changing consumer expectations. More than ever, convenience retailers can benefit from back office software that simplifies their operations and enables them to deliver the service their customers expect.

Centralizing operational control and improving efficiency

Whether your c-store chain has hundreds of sites or fewer than 50, one of the many benefits of having back office software is its ability to improve operational control and efficiency. From more automation to better inventory management, there are a few key areas convenience retailers can experience the greatest impact.

Automating manual processes

If you’re still manually entering critical operational data, like prices and inventory numbers, you’re wasting time — so you’re wasting money. The best retailers automate as much as possible, and they’re winning as a result. Manual processes are time-consuming and often produce costly inaccuracies. A back office system that supports automated imports and exports produces more reliable information and gives your employees time to focus on your customers.

Automation also plays a vital role in streamlining convenience retailers’ integration with third-party vendors. While back office software should be able to manage most parts of a retail operation, there are some instances—such as POS systems—where third-party integration is unavoidable. In this case, automated data exchange between systems should be seamless and timely for real-time, actionable decision-making.

Improving inventory management

Inventory management is one of the pillars of a successful convenience retail operation. You can have the best employees and cleanest restrooms, but if your shelves aren’t stocked with the products your customers want, they won’t be back. On the other hand, excess inventory can tie up your cash flow and significantly increase product spoilage rates. Good back office software gives you the tools to accurately manage inventory from order to delivery and keep the right balance.

Speaking of ordering, automating your ordering process is a must. Your software should be capable of analyzing years ofsales, seasonal, holiday, and promotional data, enabling you to get accurate orders and take the guesswork out.

Flexible pricebook management

Convenience stores carry thousands of items. Ensuring those stores have the right products on the shelves and the right price at the register can be extremely difficult, particularly for operations spanning various states or countries. One of the great benefits back office software often provides is a centralized pricebook that allows convenience retailers to control pricing and reduce unwanted merchandise, saving time and money for the business. Some back office software takes it a step further with store clustering capabilities. This allows convenience retailers with company owned and operated sites or dealer operated sites to maintain pricebook visibility and operational flexibility at the same time.

Oregon-based retailer, FastBreak Convenience Stores, struggled with pricebook management for years before switching to PDI Envoy, which enabled home office pricing control over its multi-store operation.

 

Better business intelligence produces better business decisions

Reliable business intelligence provides a significant competitive advantage, and convenience retailers are increasingly asking for more, better, and deeper insight into their operations. In fact, it’s why PDI recently acquired SwiftIQ. Whether you’re tracking transactions or maximizing exception management reporting, there are several ways the data from your back office software can benefit your business.

Maximizing data and exception reporting

As the pace of business continues to accelerate, improving access to timely data is crucial. Basing decisions on outdated information is often the root of costly mistakes that require reactive measures. A good back office solution can provide an accurate, real-time snapshot of what’s happening across your business using exception reporting. In addition to saving time, real-time exception reports help convenience retailers identify problems, take advantage of opportunities and react quickly to varying market conditions.

Reducing merchandise shrink by combining POS and back office data

In the battle for razor-thin margins, shrink is a convenience retailer’s biggest nightmare. With the right data from your back office system, however, you can stop the hemorrhaging before it gets out of hand. So, how do you do it?

Shift reporting can make a big dent in shrink levels by allowing you to compare shift reports to item-level audits and transaction data. Take lottery, for example. You can’t afford to waste your margin by spending too much time managing it. When you combine POS data with inventory and shift data from your back office software, you get a quick, clear picture of where the shrink is occurring and the action you need to take. And that’s just one example!

Increasing revenue and margins

In a famous scene from the 1996 box office smash Jerry Maguire, the character Rod Tidwell yells, “Show me the money!” Back office software doesn’t only increase operational control and insights for convenience retailers; it can also show them the money by helping increase revenue in several ways.

Give your marketing a boost with store-level insights

The POS is more than a cash register. It provides a blueprint of how your customers navigate your stores, how time of day influences shopping patterns, and how your cashiers influence sales. So, take advantage of it. Integrating the POS system with your back office software enables you to us data to spot purchase trends and item affinities.

By analyzing these affinities, you can actually map out customer visits. What items do customers pass as they walk from the beverage cooler to the nacho station? Just as important, what items do they miss? What items are they purchasing together? Answering these questions can help you reevaluate store layouts and promotions to maximize sales and boost revenue.

This blog just scratches the surface. In truth, it would take a much longer piece to fully explore all the benefits a back office solution offers convenience retailers. But if you’re just beginning to research your options, this is certainly a good place to start. In the meantime, take a look at how one back office solution made a million-dollar difference for this retailer’s business.

Did You Know: Your Source for PDI News provided by PDI, the leader in enterprise management software for the convenience retail and petroleum wholesale markets.