Most of us have just one app for email, we have just one app for photo editing, for voice recording, for writing, but when it comes to business, any retailer you meet is going to have a whole series of apps on their phone. Running a business is something that draws on a lot of different disciplines. Today we will go over the best retail apps.
There’s marketing, there’s accounting, there is salesmanship and just general instinct for your marketplace, a sense for the lay of the land in your particular niche, what your customers want and who’s going to be best for the job.
There are hundreds of apps out there, free and otherwise, and building your app library to handle all of your business needs, well, it’s a bit of a process. You might download twenty accounting apps before finding the one you like. You might spend a whole week downloading and deleting apps to find the best one for laying out your floor plan. Now, we can’t tell you which apps are going to work for you, which ones you’ll like best, but, we can recommend a few that might be just right. Give the apps on this list a try and see if they get you where you want to go.
Best Retail Apps Countdown…
Wal-Mart is the big box market leader for a number of reasons. They know how to manufacture products cheaply so that customers can go to them for savings, they know how to position themselves in any individual community where they set up shop, what they need to sell to dominate a local economy. Something people don’t talk about enough, the real secret sauce to their recipe: The floor plans. Their layout is constantly evolving. They use analytics and shopper data to figure out precisely where you need to put that beef jerky in order to score a few more impulse buys.
This is easier when you have hundreds of locations to draw data from, sure, but it’s something any small or medium-sized retailer can put to work in their own stores, too. Whether you have a few hundred locations, three locations or just one, an adaptable, dynamic layout can be a big help. That’s what MagicPlan is for. MagicPlan helps you to design floor plans and even gets you an estimate on what the new layout is gonna cost you. The app is free, but each new floorplan will cost you $2.99. You can get the app on iOS or you can get it for your Android.
You gotta get on Instagram if you want to bring in younger customers. Baby boomers and Gen-X love Facebook, but even Twitter is starting to look a little stale to a lot of teen and twenty-something users. Instagram is where it’s at for Millennial customers and their little brothers and sisters. The problem is Instagram can be a little restrictive in how it lets you post content. You can’t post from your PC, for instance, which means that uploading custom-edited photos is a whole big thing.
So, we recommend this handy little marketing tool, Snapseed. It’s a free app that will make Instagram marketing a little less of a hassle. You can edit photos on your phone, adding text, applying filters and so on. Creating an eye-catching image often demands that extra little push, that bit of text, a nice custom border, something that makes your picture stand out in your follower’s feed. Snapseed makes it easy to edit and post photos so that you can create striking images to help promote your brand on the social media leader. Available for both iOS and Android.
#3 Zoho Books
Zoho Books is simply a solid little app for managing your accounting. The app lets you write up invoices and mail them off, collect quotes from your vendors, and it makes it easy to track payments coming and going. A nice thing about Zoho Books is the real-time updating. What this means is that you can post an update, and your employees in multiple locations will all be able to have access to the same data. We can wholeheartedly recommend Zoho Books, available for both iOS and Android, but the thing about accounting apps is that there really are a lot of them, and you might go through quite a few before finding one that you really like. We have a few more great bookkeeping apps listed below, so take your time to check a few of them out before settling on your go-to accounting app. Zoho will run you nine dollars a month for up to two users, or twenty-nine dollars a month for unlimited users in a single organization.
Xero is an all-in-one bookkeeping and payment hub. The app costs nine dollars a month for up to twenty bank transactions, and seventy a month for a premium plan. So it can get a little pricey for some smaller businesses, but it’s worth the expense for those that need it. The app is available on both iOS and Android. The accessibility and speed of the app has been a lifesaver for many users, so while that seventy dollar price tag might seem a little steep if your business is still getting off the ground, this is an app to keep in mind once you have the budget to spend seventy dollars a month for the premium plan and you need the option for unlimited transactions.
#5 Square Apps
Square offers a great point of sale app and a solid bookkeeping app. Square POS is designed specifically for small businesses, and priced accordingly, with no monthly fees. Square POS collects revenue via 2.75% of each swiped sale, and 2.9% for each tapped transaction, plus a thirty cent cost for online invoicing. Most business apps are really designed for established medium sized businesses and larger. You can charge more for larger businesses, and you can be more certain that they won’t have to close their doors anytime soon. So it’s nice that Square has gone out of their way to cater to the small business owner.
The Square bookkeeping app, Square Retail, combines the integrated payments of Square POS with tools designed for flexibility and customization. This is a good all-in-one app for POS, bookkeeping and inventory management. The app offers stock alerts, reporting and multilocation management. After a free thirty day trial (a rarity in business apps), Square Retail is priced at sixty dollars a month, which isn’t bad when you consider that it does the job of three or four apps at once. Both of these apps are available for both iOS and Android phones and devices.
Inventory management is something we used to do with a clipboard and a pencil. It was easy to make serious mistakes this way. It’s not uncommon to hear stories of restaurants accidentally double-ordering and having to cut prices to move the extra inventory quickly, selling at a loss or barely breaking even. Inventory apps have helped to make these slip-ups a little scarcer, and a few of them, like Shopventory, has just about done away with the need to bundle up, walk into the freezer and count everything by hand.
Designed specifically for small and medium-sized businesses, the app tracks inventory through integration with your point of sale system. So the app will know when you’re running low on your Red Bull cans before you do. The app also uses analytics to let you know when something isn’t really worth restocking. So if you only sell one pouch of pipe tobacco a month, for instance, then you’ll know when you’re out of stock whether or not you should bother restocking it. Shopventory can be found in both the iOS and Android stores.
If you run a successful eBay or Etsy shop, or anything else where you’re going to be doing a lot of shipping & handling, you need an app like AfterShip. This is a free mobile app that helps you to track packages from one convenient hub, no more searching through your emails to find the tracking numbers. The app works with more than three hundred seventy carriers, including UPS, FedEx, USPS and international shippers like Royal Mail. The app features barcode scanning, push notifications and automatic courier detection. You can find AfterShip on both the iOS store and the Android shop.
Shyp is one of those apps that comes with a service attached, like Uber. If you’re looking to save time and gas money with all those trips to the post office, Shyp will actually send someone right to your door to pick up packages and take them to ship for you. The app is available in San Francisco, NYC, L.A. and Chicago, and couriers generally arrive in twenty minutes, about what you’d expect when ordering a pizza. Something like this seems like it could be very expensive, but the costs are pretty reasonable, at fifteen bucks for a one-item pickup, ten each for two items, five each for three or more, and discounts unlocked at five percent for twenty items a month, and ten percent for fifty items a month. If you find yourself doing a lot of shipping, this means you could be spending just $2.70 per item. You can get Shyp on iOS and on Android. We can also recommend Shipstation, on iOS and Android, if you’re looking to try a few different apps out before making your decision. Shipstation can cost you anywhere from nine dollars to one forty-five a month, it’s cloud-based, and users report that it’s a huge help with batch label creations and connection with your carriers.
# 9 Homebase
It’s easy to make scheduling mistakes, it’s easy to forget when someone had a day off or lose track of overtime. Homebase lets you create employee schedules quickly, tracking clock-ins with digital timecards and keeping tabs on labor costs and employee overhead. It also lets employees put in requests for time off and shift trades and track their hours, so this is an app that’s just as handy for the employer as it is for the employee. You can get Homebase on iOS or on Android. We can also recommend Deputy and Humanity for workforce management. Deputy actually offers push notifications for your employees on upcoming shifts, which, if you’ve ever had to call someone and hear “I’m scheduled today?!” then you’ll know how valuable this can be.
Finding just the right apps for your business is going to be a bit of a process even with the recommendations that we’ve listed above. There are a lot of apps out there, and sometimes one seems just as good as another and it can be hard to pick. Our advice: Just try a whole lot of them out and see which ones suit your needs best. What works for one merchant might not work for another, so you’ll have to take your time and figure out what your business needs.
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