More Time With The Customer: How Tech Can Help

More Time With The Customer: How Tech Can Help
Let's explore tips and tools that can help you boost sales and staff productivity by saving time across your business.
by Square Jan 23, 2023 — 5 min read
More Time With The Customer: How Tech Can Help

For the retailers, restaurateurs and salon owners who might have hoped that things would get easier once the lockdowns were lifted, the past few years sure presented its fair share of challenges, with staff shortages, inflation and supply chain issues still top of mind for most.

But there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful. In fact, of the 500 retailers we spoke to for Square’s inaugural Future of Retail report, 75% said they’re optimistic about their business thriving over the next 12 months. We saw similar results when we spoke to 500 hospitality leaders for our Future of Restaurants report: 77% expected to do well in the coming year.

It might sound simple, but one clear way to drive business is to spend more time face-to-face with your clients and customers.

One of the key insights of the Future of Retail report is that employers are introducing new technology to overcome the downward drag of staff shortages and wholesale price rises. This trend is accelerating. Of the retailers we spoke to, 84% of them are using or planning to use technology or automation to decrease the amount of time staff spend on low value but necessary tasks such as stock management, order tracking and shipping.

In this article we’ll explore some Square tools that can help you boost sales and staff productivity by saving time across your business. We’ve assembled a bunch of useful tips for you retail rulers, hospitality heroes and salon superstars. But let’s start with something everyone can benefit from: team management.

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Employees who have some control over the shifts they work tend to be happier and more productive. And, let’s face it, rostering is a pain in the butt, with all that juggling of people’s availability. With Square’s rostering software, you can send open shifts to your team to claim automatically. Or have your employees set their ongoing availability in the app so everyone’s on the same page. Team members can swap shifts among themselves and make leave requests for future, unpublished rosters.

For the retail rulers

Staff shortages continue to pinch. Almost a third (31%) of retailers we surveyed expected attracting and retaining staff to remain a top challenge for at least the next six months. In response, 34% of those we surveyed had lifted wages to remain competitive. With fewer staff and each hour costing more, it’s imperative that retailers turn to technology to maximise staff productivity and sales.

Automating stock management is one of the easiest and most effective ways to free up staff hours for customer interactions. Well over a third (38%) of the retailers we spoke to said that stock-related chores are the single most time-consuming task they’re faced with, so there’s plenty of room for gains here.

When adding a new product to your store, Square for Retail’s Auto Create function means you only have to scan the barcode to pre-populate available fields such as its name, size and image.

Bulk Edit lets you filter and group items for speedy across-the-board updates. For example, products with variations such as sizes or colours could be quickly grouped together for a price adjustment.

Tom’s Project, a leading Korean fashion brand with stores across Australia, is one of the Australian retailers that see the benefits of Square tools

“We transitioned from keeping paper records of transactions and stock management to an in-store POS system using Square. This has allowed us to save time when processing sales in-store, managing inventory and reporting,” says NSW director Youngmin Jo.

Tip: Square for Retail Plus offers advanced inventory tools such as vendor management, purchase orders and barcode label printing. You can also use its Projected Profit, Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) and Inventory Sell Through reports to gain powerful, live updates on your inventory and sales. These tools will help you track expected income against costs and predict when you’ll need to reorder products.

Square Terminal is a portable handheld device that makes it easier for you to serve customers during busy periods. Move around the store or down the queue to get to people faster. You can even process exchanges and cross-location returns, create orders and manage inventory, all from one place.

At Australia’s largest health food store, Wholefood Merchants, Marketing Manager Jad says Square’s streamlined POS saves them stacks of time when onboarding new staff.

“Operationally on the till our staff finds Square easy to operate as it’s very visual. We’ve gone from a day’s worth of training to an hour for new staff and they are ready to go.”

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For the hospitality heroes

In the hospitality industry, as with other sectors, staff shortages are driving a shift towards technology and automation, which can be used to give staff more time for the valuable, high-impact work that makes a difference. Fully 97% of the owners and decision makers we surveyed for our Future of Restaurants report felt that automation technology could help fill critical gaps in their business.

It begins with getting out on the floor. The portable Square Terminal helps staff spend more time tableside and less time running back and forth from the central POS.

Or offer diners the chance to order for themselves with QR code menus. It’s fun and casual, and a powerful way to free up staff time. Guests can keep their tab open and add drinks and extras as they feel like it.

Meanwhile, integrated portable POS and kitchen display systems (KDS) mean there’s no need for front-of-house staff to trek back to the kitchen to check that a menu item is still available. Square for Restaurants Plus features auto86ing, straight fire categories, coursing, table management timers and more. Everything is connected – meaning no more time is wasted reconciling disconnected databases and paperwork.

Less time wasted means more tables turned. Even more importantly perhaps, it creates the space to deliver an exceptional customer experience in the dining room. That’s what keeps people coming back.

“Leaning on technology in your restaurant takes courage,” says Michael Bascetta, CEO of Worksmith and owner of the Made Well group (Bar Liberty, Capitano and Falco Bakery). But the benefits it can unlock are massive.

“If I had my time again, I’d invest in technology that integrates with one another. It’s something we’ve done with Square, which integrates with all of our other tech providers, and it makes running a restaurant so much simpler.”

For the salon superstars

Square Appointments is the key tool salon owners in the beauty and personal care industry can use to maximise their team’s face-to-face time with clients.

It provides 24/7 online booking, so there’s less need to staff the phone or message back and forth. And individual employee accounts make it easy for team members to manage their own timetables.

Amy Phipps, owner of Byron Bay salon Polished, says the technology gives her “so much freedom and time back being a mum and business owner”.

“Square Appointments allows me to run my business from my phone and our team can log in on the go and check their upcoming appointments without me having to micro-manage things.”

Automated reminders cut down on staff time wasted chasing ‘no shows’. They also mean less missed income.

“Reminders is one of the features I love the most,” Amy says.

“Our clients receive their appointment reminders two hours prior to their booking time, which means 9/10 are on time and our day runs smoothly!”

Bonus tip: With retail playing a more and more important part in salons’ profitability, don’t miss our pointers in the retail section above for automating your stock management and forecasting when you’ll need to order more products.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.

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The Bottom Line is brought to you by a global team of collaborators who believe that anyone should be able to participate and thrive in the economy.

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