What first comes to your mind on hearing the word “paperless”?
If you answered anything like the environment or sustainability, you relate it to only a part of the story. There is no doubt that consuming less paper helps the environment, there are plenty of other advantages that come with going paperless — especially if you are in retail.
You can run your business more efficiently if you minimize use of paper. For one thing, the information retrieval process becomes a lot easier if the documents are digital. Digital documents also allow you to search using exact phrase, either in the document or on the entire computer. Thus you avoid rummaging through piles of paper.

Today we have the technology in place for going paperless, like the digital timesheets, that are available for you and your staff to accurately keep track of hours worked. Digitizing documents also has several benefits for your customers. Rather than cluttering up their wallets with paper receipts, you could just sms or email e-receipts. Through this, the customers can easily access and search for receipts with just a few clicks.

Replacing paper docs with digital files has several advantages, and you should consider going paperless in some (if not all) areas of your business. Read on about the ways you can achieve this.

1. Inventory count records

You can eliminate paper spreadsheets and clipboards when counting inventory. Physically counting your inventory is a difficult chore in the first place itself. The last thing you want is to make the task even harder by keeping record using a pen and paper. Do yourself and your staff a favor and opt for digital solutions such as barcode scanners and inventory counting apps.
Check whether your POS or retail management solution offers stock counting functions and take advantage of them. Doing so will also save your time and reduce the chances of error.

2. Send receipts via sms or email

If you haven’t done so yet, now is a good time to adopt a POS system that lets you send receipts via email/sms. Once you have that, start introducing sms/email receipts to your customers. Make sure the cashiers mention it at checkout to customers, so shoppers have the option to have receipts printed out or only sent digitally.

One retailer for example Mr. Satish a restaurant owner in Bangalore, when he found out that his POS system (CirQ) allowed him to send receipts via email, he used the feature right away.
“We had an Epson receipt printer from our prior process, however now it’s only a different piece of hardware we didn’t have to buy, sitting there gathering dirt,” shared Satish. “We first ask our customers in the event that they would like their information to be put into our client database and if they say no, we then just ask if they would be willing to obtain a receipt by using e-mail or sms, and everyone has agreed.” Not only does this help you to go green, but also it can make you popular among people who are increasingly conscious about environment conservation.

3. Use a paperless system to manage your calendar and appointments

If you sell services (e.g. spas) or if you require scheduling in-store customer appointments (e.g. personal shopper), consider using digital solutions to handle your calendar. Rather than literally penciling in client bookings and handing out appointment cards, you can just type your customer’s information into your system and send them reminders via text or email. This way you and your staff will be able to stay on top of your calendar easily. Your customers won’t ever have to worry about losing their appointment card. This way they will be happier and have less worries about missing their meetings too.

4. Go paperless in financial tasks

Consider going paperless in your finance department. Instead of printing out invoices, for instance, see if your clients and vendors would be open to doing business digitally and accept digital invoices. Are you still reconciling financial records manually? Get yourself a good accounting app, or even a point of sale with such functionality, that can handle such tasks for you.

5. Manage your loyalty program digitally

If you are still using printed out application forms and physical loyalty cards in your loyalty program, you are wasting a lot of resources. Replace them with a POS-based or mobile-based loyalty program instead.

A POS-based loyalty program eliminates the need for physical cards. All customers have to do is give you their name or email address or just phone number and you will be able to track purchases and give rewards using your POS itself.

I am sure these changes will take a little time for you to get adjusted to but it has been observed that customers take little time to adjust. Even today the industry has barely changed with respect to these things but once you get used to them, you would be surprised how easy it can be to manage everything without the use of papers.