Electronic signatures (e-signs) are being used across most industries; however, the adoption within the retail sector has a bit sluggish compared to most. Actually, the reason behind this isn’t clear. Maybe it’s because it looks less evident how retailers can benefit from using e-sign, compared to sectors in which contracts are critical in their daily operations, like real estate, for instance.
Another factor is possibly the fact that the attention tends to lie elsewhere for retail industry, let’s say, around customer service. In any case, there are various practical reasons for retail businesses that are yet to embrace electronic signatures to do so.
But first, let’s take a look at the different types of retail businesses and the documents they frequently use.
Types of retail business
Retail is a phrase that covers a wide range of business models. Some of the most common types of retail stores include:
- Specialty stores – Stores that focus on narrow product areas, e.g., electrical goods, entertainment, clothing.
- Convenience stores – Small to medium convenience outlets normally operating near residential areas.
- Department stores – Large establishments, selling a range of services and goods, divided into departments that can be individually operated by merchandisers, buyers, or a separate private business.
- Supermarkets – Medium to large household stores which aim for high-volume/low-margin sales.
- Direct retailers/warehouses – Medium to large stores, generally off the high street, most of the times selling products directly from the manufacturer.
- Discount stores – Large, medium, or small shops which sources branded goods or end-of-run stock to sell at highly discounted prices.
- Online stores – These are stores that sell directly to customers via an e-commerce website.
Common retail documents
Forget what some people say; just about every transaction in the retail sector needs some form of agreement, therefore, it is good we mention some of the most common types of paperwork used in a typical retail setting:
- Supplier forms
- Concession documents
- Sales quote
- Sales order
- Sales receipts
- Sales return
- Delivery notes
- Packing Slips
How retail businesses benefit from the use of e-signatures
1. Simplified processes and increased efficiency
Despite a significant percentage of retail sales being conducted online, customers do still want to see high-value products in-person before they put their signature on the dotted line. With the ever rising demand on your margin and constant increases in operating costs, the only realistic option is to modernize and automate your manual processes.
Electronic signatures guarantee the smooth sales process of a digital transaction to a real-world situation. Your sales department can spend more time on other important tasks rather than doing paperwork.
2. Secure and convenient
Electronic signatures are entirely secure, ensuring your clients’ details are safe, while also allowing you to share documents and information with colleagues to significantly reduce internal workloads.
Additionally, e-signs work on most mobile gadgets, allowing retailers to complete sales in the office or even while on the move. Most importantly, customers can create esignature online at their convenience without leaving their homes.
3. Better proverbial paper trail
Managing paperwork can be a tedious task. The time and cost involved in sending contracts, copying them, and storing for filing; not forgetting the possibility of contracts being forged, lost, or damaged – can be avoided via the use of e-signatures.
It is also effortless to archive and retrieve documents, and a digital log can provide the details of the signed contract, such as the time the signature was created, IP address, and the email address used.
4. Save money
Have you ever thought of the costs that go into sending those thousands of paper contracts to your customers and suppliers? Think about:
- Cost of buying printing papers
- Printing costs
- Copying costs
- Cost of marinating the copier and printer
- Scanning cost
- Delivery or mailing cost
- Safe document storage cost
Research from MultiBriefs revealed that U.S. companies spent about $80 per employee on paper yearly, and 50-70 percent of office space was used for filling and/or storing printed documents. Another study estimated that it costs a company about $120 to find a misplaced document, $20 to file a document and $220 to reproduce a missing document.
5. Improved customer experiences
A good number of customers do not like dealing with huge stacks of paper agreements, contracts, warranties, and receipts. It is tedious, troublesome, and inconvenient. Online signature software comes in handy in such a situation by improving their shopping experience.
Countless studies have proven that improving customer experience is a top priority for many organizations. A study carried out by Watermark Consulting, shows that organizations which offered a good customer experience outperformed their opponents, generating a total return which was higher than 35% than the rest.
Digital transformation via electronic signatures gets rid of inefficiencies that negatively affect your customers. Your customers can create signature online with a click of a button, anytime, anywhere, and on any device.
6. Going green
Caring for the environment may or may not make a big difference to your retail’s business. But many organizations find value in embracing some environmentally-friendly approaches. Going green may go well with your brand values and even contribute toward a positive customer relationship.
If therefore, you wish to make your retail business more eco-friendly, then online signature software is a powerful tool which can support your efforts. Basically, by embracing electronic signatures, you are not only ensuring progress for your retail business but are also saving the planet by reducing paper usage in your operations. It’s a win-win for your business as well as the environment!
Now is the best time to invest in online signature software
There’s no need to go into panic mode if you are still signing documents with wet-ink signatures, but now is the right time to think about switching. E-signatures save time, effort, and money; make contracts more secure; simplify audit and compliance, and help reinforce your brand. Given that e-sign solutions can be effortlessly integrated into existing applications and need little capital outlay, it is a perfect solution for your retail business.