The 7 Best Free and Open source Retail Management Software
In recent times, the term shopping is becoming synonymous with buying online. The convenience of buying from various online stores and predatory pricing offered by ecommerce companies is gradually causing traditional Retail to lose its sheen. But the game is not over yet; our traditional Retail can still get ahead in the race if it embraces change. When we say change, we mean integrating technology with the day to day retail operations. Retailers often find themselves in situations where the customer is leaving the store empty-handed due to understocked inventory. Many times their profit arrows points to losses due to low sales with an overstocked inventory. Sometimes they have to face the issues arising due to irregularities in counting stocks, or difficulties in managing expired and faulty stock. The worst part is that the traditional sales reports provide no analysis of their business, and retailers are unable to understand the root cause of the issues. These hurdles in the retail process make the consumer buying experience rough.
'Not being able to keep up with the seasonal trends in the market can cost a retailer a great number of business opportunity losses'.
With customer's expectation of convenience in shopping increasing day by day and multiple ecommerce players battling out in the market to earn profits, it is indeed becoming a challenge for the retailers to stand out. How to ensure a no pause for customer walk-ins to your stores? How to streamline retail operations which can help you in providing value to your customers? A retail management software is an answer to the question. A retail management software provides tools such as POS, CRM, Inventory management, sales order management, reports and analytics, etc. to retailers to operate their business efficiently.
What is Retail Management?
Retail management is the set of activities that retailers carry out to make shopping a pleasant and hassle-free experience for their customers. It involves inventory management, Customer relationship management, Point of Sale management, Loyalty programs, and many other activities. It also involves the strategies retailers use to achieve the target sales. Below is an infographic denoting the focus aspects of retail management:
Retail Management then and now:
There was a time when retail business owners were complacent about their business. Managing retail was easy and retailers didn't have to take much pain. Customers were mostly submissive and local retailers used to have a monopoly for their product segments. Customers used to see the products in the showroom, and if they were not satisfied, the retailer would hand over to them a catalog of products available in their warehouse. Customers had to choose from the catalog only, and there was a little scope for customization and preferences. It was easy for retail stores to manage things as customers could be made to wait for the delivery of products from the warehouse.
Today things are different. Customers don’t wait if the product is not available. They have multiple buying options. Earlier retail business management was easy as the retailers would face only local competition. E-commerce has changed that scenario, and today retailers have to compete with global players and millions of other e-tailers selling the same product. The customers arriving at the store have already dissected the product features, read online reviews, analyzed all prices, and also have a list of more retail showrooms. Today retailers cannot stay competitive without the assistance from technology.
Earlier, there was no need for the retailer to have a POS system in place. Retailers would insist on getting paid in cash. Ecommerce compelled retailers to shed their reluctance on accepting online and digital payments finally. Today retailers have to deploy POS at the billing counter if they want to provide a pleasant shopping experience to their customers.
Why is efficient Retail Management more important in the present business context?
Retail involves direct to customer sale activities. Today, customers stand in retail stores looking at the products and simultaneously checking the reviews, price comparisons and specifications online. Their buying decisions are largely influenced by what they read online. With this kind of unprecedented upheaval in customer’s approach, the survival of retail brick and mortar stores depends on how they manage their stores and what extra value they provide to their customers? Retailers have to perform well-defined functions in order to impress their customers. Thus, efficient retail management becomes more important for sustainable growth of the retail business.
What is Retail Management Software?
A retail management software provides tools such as POS, CRM, Inventory management etc. to retailers to operate their business efficiently. It is a platform that encompasses several essential tools to help in the successful running of a retail store or chain of stores, for example, inventory management, Point of sale (POS), customer relationship management, generating sales and financial reports, business intelligence etc. Not only inventory it can track employee performance as well. Some retail management software can also provide the ease of managing all these retail functions from a smartphone. All these tools work in conjunction to provide better business insights.
What are the challenges faced by retailers?
Mismanagement of inventory
Be it a single store or a multi-store retail chain; if the stock management is poor, customers will not take much time to shift to a different store with the perception that previous store stocked insufficient products which they wanted to buy. A customer would rarely wait for the stocks to get refilled in your store. Customer acquisition cost will be high as well.
Lesser waiting time during the billing
In times of hectic schedule, the customer doesn't want to spend time standing in long queues after shopping. Reducing waiting time for billing is a big challenge for retailers.
Creating a loyal customer base
Maintaining a loyal customer base would lead to positive word of mouth. It is always a challenge for the retailer to maintain a personalized approach. Retailers find it difficult to have a system which takes care of customer's shopping points and needs and updates them about the latest promotional discounts.
Taking targeted business decisions
Analyzing consumer sales patterns and trends gives an insight into which product is most picked in the shopping trolley. Knowing this can solve the issues of understocked and overstocked inventory. It will also help the retailers to keep up with the latest consumer trends. While the idea looks great, it is a challenging task to do in practice.
All the above challenges point towards a need for an efficient system that can take care of the inventory, customer needs, billings, and buying preferences of the customer. This signals for an efficient retail management system that encompasses a POS system which will give a quick check out experience and will eventually increase more customer walk-ins. An inventory management system that will help in managing stock ratios and a customer management system that can easily manage customer preferences. A retail management software can assist the retailers in mitigating all the above challenges.
What are the benefits of using a Retail Management Software?
An efficient POS
After shopping, customers expect a faster checkout during billing. This is where retailers can show exemplary service by using a modern POS register. The retail management software comes with a modern POS register which has features for faster transactions, greater accuracy and ease of use. During checkout, the modern POS offers several ways of adding a product to the bill like – on-screen buttons, barcode scanner than searching for a product manually. The modern retail management software is designed to be compatible with payments and to allow the customers to pay with their preferred method.
Inventory management using spreadsheets and pen-paper is extremely time-consuming, whereas this can be done in no time with the inbuilt inventory management features of the retail management software. The inventory management features of retail management software:
- Help you to update quantities when products are sold automatically
- Send you notifications to reorder items when running low on stock
- Allow you to stay profitable by tracking costs and profit margins on a per-product basis
- Provide you with real-time inventory data in a click
Business intelligence and analytics
What if we could successfully predict the number of pastry boxes to be sold in the upcoming Christmas? Losses can be evaded when results predicted, and end results coincide. A retail management software is capable of summarizing sales and financial reports, hence giving you critical business information. With these reports on hand, one can comprehend how the business is running. With business analytics in Retail, it gives an edge over others to stand out by providing the following benefits –
- Identification of top-selling product products, item categories etc.
- Understanding the frequency of shopping in days, weeks, months, years or longer
- Tracking the number of unique customers visiting your retail store and adding the same to your database
- Identifying high and low performing employees on their sales performance also rewarding and providing them training assistance respectively
Customer relationship management
To sustain in this dynamic business environment, retailers focus on acquiring new customers as well as maximizing value from the existing customers. To keep revenues and customers coming, retailers must match up to customers' expectations by providing them with world-class services. For this, they need to develop a personalized approach for customers with an effective marketing strategy. Customer relationship management features of the retail management system will aid the retailers with the best of customer retaining options like –
- Increasing retail store awareness and driving traffic to social media pages on various platforms
- Encouraging shopper footfall by a rewards-based loyalty program
- Regularly sending them email newsletters and messages informing them about the latest season discounts
- Managing customer relationships with a built-in database and customer relationship management (CRM) tools
For any retail store to be successful, retailers must have an organized and efficient workforce. The process of hiring, training, performance tracking consumes a great deal of time and money. Retail management software has an employee management tool which has features of:
- Tracking employee hours automatically with an inbuilt clock.
- Accuracy in record keeping and ease of payroll process
- Maintaining security by setting appropriate permission levels for junior and experienced staff.
- Providing training to the underperforming employees
Retailers don’t need to keep manual records and bills after deploying a retail management system. A free and open source retail management software can:
- Monitor the sales revenue and keep records in the database
- Track real-time sale levels and accordingly alert for any inventory refills
- Make comparative charts of the sales done in the past period with the current sales
What are the features of Retail Management Software?
- Inventory management
Multiple functions and responsibilities can make a retail owner forget about refilling the stock. The retail management software provides the convenience of alerting the owner to reorder the inventory automatically. Stocking the right inventory at the right time will give the right amount of sales.
- Customer retention and targeting them
Retail management software has eased the target based marketing and crafting campaigns, loyalty programs accordingly. It gives accurate data about the frequency of a particular shopper walking to your store, what most he buys, notifying them about the latest discounts etc.
- Business forecasting and data analysis
Which product is billed the most? How much inventory should be stocked to get profit? All these questions of retailers go unanswered until the data prediction feature of the retail management system helps retailers with various sales reports, data analytics and complex data calculations, which results in business decisions of tracking profit margins, monitor inventory, customer buying patterns, managing of expenses and reduction of waste. With this, retailers can spend more time making innovations to their business.
- Operational features
Retail management systems have features to address daily operational needs such as the generation of daily reports, sales reports, real-time analytics, refund management, cash management, promotions and discounts management and many more on a single dashboard.
- Multi-currency Support
With digital shopping being the most preferred, retailers need to have a compact solution which can manage the operations of the in-store business as well as online, which means the shopping experience should be optimized. During peak seasons, mobile POS solutions give the convenience of a faster checkout with secure transactions and payments in multiple currencies.
- Periodic Billing Support
Many retailers provide their customers with the option to pay in instalments. In such a scenario, a retail management system can set a periodic billing method for the customer. The installments will automatically get debited from the account authorized by the customer.
- Multiple device compatibility
Retail management systems can work with multiple devices, operating systems and configurations.
In the present digital time, offline retailers are making themselves available on the web. Using a retail management software gives the retailer manage effectively the physical store operations as well as ecommerce in a single platform. With shoppers demanding many conveniences in shopping, retailers are opting for an omnichannel approach and are striving for giving a smooth shopping experience to the customers.
The list of 7 best free and open-source retail management software:
4. BMS Link
Comparison Chart of 7 Best Free and Open Source Retail Management Software
With more than 10,000 installations per month, Openbravo is a free and open source software which is the most preferred Point of Sale application for the small and medium scale retailers. OpenbravoPOS is deployable with the native PlanetAuthorize payment Gateway bundle, which effectively saves time, reduces costs and improves productivity. Openbravo POS can be easily integrated with its ERP software which is capable of doing functions like – refunds, sales, daily reports, cash management etc. A higher version of Openbravo POS 2.30.2 is also available.
- Merchant transaction management- Allows to manage transactions, configure their account settings, view account statements, generate reports and manage account activity.
- Real-time reporting of retail sales
- Customer vault – effective handling of customer payment information
- Payer authentication – protects from fraud transactions and protects customer identity
- Gateway emulator – automatically switches to a different payment gateway without reprogramming the application
- Recurring billing service – allows setting billing for the customers on a periodic basis. This is helpful in collecting dues, subscriptions, instalments etc.
- Virtual Point of sale with multi-currency support
- Customer support
Ari is a retail management software which comes with a free trial and is developed by WebMasters. This software is a one-stop solution for all the retail operations from procurement to customer relationship management. Its integration with accounting software like Xero, Retail Insight, Business Central and Tally has solved all the accounting worries of a retailer. It is also integrated with mail chimp where regular emails containing promotional news can be sent. Its automated process of starting and ending the promotions automatically updates the POS to lift the schemes, thus eliminating the manual interference.
- Automatic promotion management
- Customizable customer rewards program
- Inventory and supply chain management
- Managing multiple stores in different regions
- Reports and analytics dashboard
- Point of sale operations runs in both offline and online mode
- Collects vital data of customers to later come up with personalized cross-selling offers
- Centralized operations from a single dashboard
- Builds an organizational structure in case of multi-chain retail
- Observes current trends in sales and customer buying and comes up with detailed reports and analysis for better store management
NCR is a retail management software which has been simplifying retail operations in more than 141 countries. It's software solutions spans in three segments namely:
- Department and speciality Retail
- Grocery, drug and mass merchandise
- Convenience and fuel retail
Having the NCR software installed modernizes the entire retail process from POS to customer loyalty programs.
- Central configuration Manager – Add, delete or change business rules without code configuration; also POS can be configured with store-level options in real-time.
- Integrated secure payments processing and easily compatible with new methods of payment
- Generating various reports
- Cashier performance analyzer
- Cloud-based infrastructure and open APIs can easily integrate with new forms of billing like –self-checkout, online pick up in-store, social shopping, digital receipts etc.
- Promotions management
- Customer care support
- Advanced merchandising
- Automated cash management
- Cloud-based POS platform
BMS stands for Business Management Software which is a free trial cloud-based affordable retail management software made by James Park specifically designed for the small business owners in the Blinds and Shades industry. Whether you are a retailer or a wholesaler, this software can manage your daily retail operations. It is an affordable retail management software available in this particular vertical.
- Setting up customer appointments and reminders
- Product, price changes and product features can be added without much hassle in the catalogue
- Cloud-based accounting with Quickbooks
- Manage orders, customers and retailers
- Gallery to display the products with filters
- Inventory management
- Bulk SMS/ Email to retailers, wholesalers and suppliers
- Sales commission tracking of one or more employees by daily /month or project basis
- Managing split orders with multiple wholesalers
- Multiple quotations of a product can be given to a customer
- Inbuilt UPS tracking of the shipments
- Taking orders possible for a retailer from non-users of BMS Link software
- Tracking production process after an order is approved
ivend Retail is an integrated omnichannel retail management software designed for modern retailers. They have simplified retail operations in various sectors like – fashion, hardware and building supplies, grocery, hospitality, sporting goods etc. Over 1500 customers use iVend Retail in 85 countries. Their clientele includes brands like – basics, Oscar Jacobson, Evergreen, Kazyon market, Samsonite etc.
- iVend POS system which is compatible running in (iOs and Android) mobile as well as PC.
- It can even work without the internet as well.
- Management of everyday sales operations namely – Sales, Sales refunds, sales exchange, advance payment
- Intelligent customer loyalty program
- Enterprise Inventory Management
- Digital coupons and loyalty passes
- Ecommerce integration to effectively manage online and store business
- Reporting and analytics
Epicor is a retail management software which is specifically designed for small and medium scale hardline retailers. It comes with free trial use. By hardline retailers, we mean goods that are hard to touch like laptops, furniture, automobiles etc. More than 7200 retailers use Epicor for better revenue generation, customer retention, operational efficiency and profits. Their services are made for the sectors like- Auto Parts and retailers, Building centres, Farm and Home, Hardware and home centres, Paint and decorating, Sporting goods, Speciality retail, Thrift, Pet, Pharma, Lawn and garden centres.
- POS– can be operated from Mobile and PC
- Inventory and Purchasing Management
- Analytics and reporting
- Payment Management – processing debit and credit payments
- Electronic document management for saving, recall and reprint invoices
- Workforce management
- Financial management
- Pricing planner to help with real-time data-driven decisions
- Rental management
- Order management
- Logistics management –to track the shipment
- Customer servicing and repair management to create detail service orders
- Can connect auto parts distributors with over 20000 registered buyers.
Founded in the year 1994, Comcash is a retail management software which was designed to bring fluidity in the retail transaction processes at a shoestring budget of $125 a month. Comcash uses a powerful Microsoft SQL Server database which has the ability to track thousands of SKUs. It also gives the user the convenience of managing sales and inventory of 'brick and mortar retail and ecommerce in a single platform. They provide retail services in four verticals, namely –Retail, Convenience store, Grocery store and Liquor store.
- Point of Sale System
- Touchscreen based cashiering options
- Inventory control with purchasing and receiving
- Handheld inventory support
- Employee Management Support
- Customer management and loyalty
- Extensive reporting
- Integrated Quickbooks accounting
You can choose from the above list of 7 best free and open source retail management software for your retail management needs and keep your retail business afloat. If you still need a more comprehensive software with better features to manage your retail business, then you can add the best retail management software Netsuite and to your list. Netsuite is one of the most popular retail management software solutions available in the market. Let us see its features in detail:
Netsuite from Oracle is a popular cloud-based free trial retail management software. In a dynamic business environment where the shopper's behaviour is unpredictable, it is important that our systems quickly adapt to the changes. Netsuite provides a simplified approach of transforming the retail operations across web, mobile, in-store and call centre in a single platform. Apart from that, it provides end to end the unified system of quickly adding new channels or brands, expanding to new business models and geographies etc.
- In-store POS with end to end data encryption and cross channel functionality
- Can easily connect ecommerce sales with our operational business in a single platform and attracting more traffic to the web store.
- Customer relationship management to track customer grievances, manage and analyze sales with the additional feature of the success rate of marketing campaigns across various channels in one single application.
- Order management from the web, in-store, mobile, kiosk and call centre
- Flexibility in Monitoring KPI and business analytics in multiple locations.
- Managing essentials of financials like general ledger, accounts receivables, accounts payable and fixed assets management with strong compliance.
- Real-time inventory visibility with supplier management
The free and open source retail management software consists of features that help to track, manage and organize the retail store's business flow. It helps to monitor the entire process of retail management and helps in eliminating all glitches in the retail management process. According to a recent research report 79% of consumers said personalized service is a top factor in choosing where they shop. Retail management software helps tremendously in providing personalized approach to the customers.
Before choosing the right retail management software for your retail practice, keep the following points in mind:
- Identify the issues you are facing in your retail business.
- Decide upon the required features that you think can counter your business challenges.
- Check if the software is compatible with both laptop, tablet, mobile, computer etc.
- If you have stores in more than one location, check if their activity can be managed from one device and from multiple locations.
- Check pricing and installation criteria. (Whether it is cloud-based, web-based, Open source)
Businesses deploying the right retail management software will surely have a bright future and exceptional business growth. Businesses can choose from any of the free and open source retail management software discussed in this article. Apart from the discussed free retail management software, Retail 365 cloud, Retail Graph, Square, and Heartland Retail, are some other retail software that you may choose for your retail management needs. We will appreciate it if you make time to provide your inputs in the comments section below. If you have utilized any of the free and open source retail management software mentioned above, then do share your feedback with us.