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Why Retailers Should Go Paperless

Paper Shreds

Image cropped from Mhaw on Flickr. Some rights reserved.


The concept of the paperless office has been around for decades. Its merits are easy to see: it will save money, increase efficiency in the workplace, and lessen your company’s impact on the environment. Why is it then, that not everyone is doing it? I’ll cut to the chase, it is not for everyone.

As efficiency and productivity expert, K.J. McCorry pointed out in Becoming The Paperless Office, it is not easy. Some people, especially from earlier generations, find it difficult to cope with the new technological systems. There is also the fact that, some industries, like law and banking, that simply need to have their documents in physical form. However, there is one kind of industry that can make the switch quite effortlessly and reap huge benefits from it – retail.

These days, more and more retailers have taken the high road and started selling online. These smart entrepreneurs understand that the only surefire way to relevant (and continue in business) is to profit from an eCommerce store. And this decision makes perfect sense since we live in a world where people socialise, entertain, and purchase their needs through the Internet.

Is it time for you to join their ranks? Yes and here are the reasons why:

You will spend less and yet, earn more.

Retailers who have converted their physical stores into eCommerce stores have cut their costs and increased their profits greatly. One such store is Cheap Sheds, an Australia-based store that sells different types of sheds. Since going paperless in 2008, they have reported saving thousands of dollars. How do eCommerce businesses spend less?

Administrative procedures are paperless.
When you are selling online, all communications with your customers are done via email or phone. Orders, change in orders, complaints, questions, everything. Will you ever have to write them down on paper? No. Ecommerce builder software include tools that will allow you to encode the information and it will be processed automatically and electronically. The orders will be there, always ready to be reviewed. The invoices will be sent via to your customer’s email. And yes, you can even track the parcel on the website.

And because everyone on your team that has access to the eCommerce store can view these information, there is no need for you to photocopy anything ever again.

You save on: paper,printing costs, photocopying machines, and electricity.

Managing your team is done virtually.
Instructions are sent through emails or instant messaging. Same goes with files. The older set might think that this is not effective, or might find the idea foreign. I am telling you; these systems are easy and you will get the hang of them in no time. Examples of online management systems are:

Basecamp – Think of it as your main virtual office since all of your employees, from store managers to writers, will be here. On this site, you can create tasks with instructions as detailed as you want (you can even include images if needed!), assign them to an employee, and set the deadline. You can also set alarms with the reminders going straight to your email.

Freshbooks– This gem of a system makes the tedious task of billing a breeze. Here you can track the time your employees worked and how much they cost, log in expenses, and invoice your clients.

Google Drive – You can create, upload, edit, and share different types of files on Google Drive. You can set its sharing setting according to your preference and to the level of privacy a certain document requires. Google Drive also speeds up the exchange and editing of documents.

Interacting with your team online will save you a lot of time. There will be no need for you to travel. You will be conducting meetings, examining work, and clarifying instructions all in the comfort of your office or home. Heck, you can even be in your pyjamas and your team will never know.

You save on: time, gas, lunch or dinner meetings

Marketing is focused online as well.
Gone are the days when you had to print a thousand flyers to stuff into mailboxes. When you have an eCommerce business, marketing is accomplished on the internet as well. Spreading the word about your products and services is done by advertising on Google Adwords, posting on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Online marketing enables you to reach more people plus it has a lot of room for creativity. You don’t stop with words and pictures, you can post or send videos, too – whichever works better for your products.

You save on: paper, printing costs, tarps, advertising fees, advertising space

You Will Be More Environment-Friendly

The call for energy-efficient and Earth-friendly measures is great. Everyday we see the devastating and irreversible effects of global warming on the news. People are more aware than ever and they are usually eager to support companies who aim to make a change. In other words, switching to a paperless eCommerce store can also improve your image and inevitably, widen your market.

e-Commerce businesses are kinder to the environment. They have a lower carbon footprint. Why?

eCommerce stores generate less waste.
Majority of the waste a typical retail store generates is composed of paper. Old invoices, records, memos, print outs. With an eCommerce store, this type of waste is eliminated. Your recycling responsibilities are reduced. Money, time, and energy that you will usually devote to getting rid of paper waste can now go elsewhere – perhaps in investing in energy-efficient equipment or as donations to organisations that spread awareness about global warming.

eCommerce stores have lower electricity costs
Since almost all of your transactions are conducted online, the absence of a physical store to operate brings down your electricity cost. Yes, you may be on the computer for much of the day but that is nothing compared to what you will have to spend in keeping a store well-lit and cool.

eCommerce stores use less fuel
And because there is no physical store to speak of, your products will be delivered from the warehouse straight to your customers. That’s a lot of trips and gallons of fuel that you are saving. A lot less of carbon emission from your company.

While a brick-and-mortar store may have its charms, it will be challenging for it to flourish in times like these when people do their shopping in the virtual world. Sure, the transition may present challenges. Nevertheless, these trade-offs will be worth it.