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As businesses continue to expand internationally through their multichannel efforts, many employees are finding themselves on-call outside of the typical 9 to 5. Plus, it’s vacation season and even the most hard working of employees and executives need to take some well deserved time off.

This brings up a need for easy, on-the-go store and inventory management for successfully scaling businesses.

After all, we live in a “have laptop, will travel” age and with the surge in tablet use, we’ve seen some retailer owners take the on-the-go management ethos to new heights. As in a-few-hundred-feet-above-sea-level-on-a-bike-trek-through-the-hills new heights.

“I can constantly update myself on what’s going on in the shop if I’m not there,” says Holly Burrage, co-founder and co-owner of the Bristol-based Triathlon Shop. She started the multichannel retail business in 2010 with her husband, Jon Burrage, and it quickly expanded to a full service shop and ecommerce store.

When Holly and Jon take time to train and ride themselves, they’re still able to stay on top of running their business.

“You can access [the store] from your phone. You can access it from a tablet. You can access it from your laptop at home. It’s really easy. We tend to be on it most hours of the day, to be honest.”

This is one of the key advantages to operating in the cloud, but there are others. With no hardware to purchase and maintain –– be it robust servers and data storage equipment –– retail business expenditures can go into improving operations, expanding product lines, hiring employees, marketing and scaling your company’s growth.

And, while you’re relaxing in a cabana with tablet and umbrella drink in hand, centralized cloud computing can empower your staff back at your store with the same real-time customer data you’re accessing. They’re able to monitor their sales numbers, provide customer service to both in-store and online inquiries, and address any product or order issues as needed.

In an Entrepreneur article, writer Gordon Russell stated, “The scope of change in the retail industry is stunning. Cloud-hosted SaaS solutions are making data available in real-time and are poised to unite the digital and physical retail environments.”

When it comes to the retail staff managing a sales floor and helping customers, Russell sees greater opportunity for those staff to feel they are playing a larger role in a shop’s success as product moves out the door.

“Making inventory data available across all stores in real time allows associates to create customer orders for items they want, but are not in stock in their store. Fillable orders are instantly visible and ship quickly. Access to real-time data gives store staff the ability to watch their progress throughout the day. Customer service will most likely improve, and daily sales plans should be beaten on a regular basis.”

And, if sales are brisk and inventory has become unexpectedly low, within a few clicks you can place a reorder with your supplier to bring stock levels back to where they need to be, praise your sales associates for a job well done, and be on your way. Or, you can easily set minimum stock levels and reorder quantities enabling automated fulfillment. This functionality comes in handy not only during peak sales cycles, but also when you’re traveling for business or taking some well deserved time off. You’ll have the peace of mind that even in your physical absence, your business will continue running like a well-oiled machine.

For Jim Fritz, co-founder of Kennedy Blue, a multichannel retailer rel=”nofollow” of high-end wedding and bridesmaid dresses based in Minnesota, this type of cloud-based management isn’t only convenient –– it’s a vacation-saver.

“Whenever I travel, I can login [to my store],” he says of the cloud-based retail operation used by Kennedy Blue. “I can literally be anywhere and check in, even at the beach! It’s that easy.”

To learn more about best practices for managing your inventory end-to-end download this free white paper, 12 Tips for Taking Control of Inventory Control.

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  • They must be on another platform then, because the BigCommerce admin panel doesn’t work on a tablet or phone?

  • haha you’re right! I’m going on vacation here in a couple weeks and will do everything possible *not* to be connected to tech. But, in the case of emergency, it is nice to know that you are reachable and have the ability to solve business problems quickly and effectively even while sitting on a beach somewhere :) Technology — it can often be too much, but dang if it isn’t just what we need sometimes!

  • Sounds like an awful “holiday” if you keep checking in on the business, haha! But I get your point, the technology allows us to do things we couldn’t do even a few years ago. The sad reality is though that I am connected to my store most hours of the day via smartphone/tablet, I almost never switch off. In 2 weeks time I am going on my first holiday in years, and I’m going to intentionally try and switch off and “unplug” as much as possible, so I can get a proper rest (even though I’m worried how it will all go back at the office without me). You are right though, if something goes wrong I can login from the beach and fix most issues. That’s got to be a good thing, to have that ability if needed.
    G

  • roberto50

    In my case, the trick was to train someone to pick, pack, and ship orders because that’s the only thing I couldn’t do while vacationing on the other side of the earth. I also made step by step instructions on how to print packing slips, use shipping software, and even added some packing tips.

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