Owning a retail business means learning how to be scrappy, making the most of what you have, and adapting your business to the changing times.
Brick-and-mortar retailers and mobile retailers alike, we hate to break the news but more hours in the day aren’t likely to fall into your lap. That’s why we put together this list of 23 best retailer apps for small business owners. So, read up. Download the apps on your iPad, iPhone, or preferred Android device and start optimizing your day to the fullest.
Note: The apps listed below are available for Android and iOS mobile operating systems. Some apps may also have desktop versions that can be found on the Windows Store or Chrome Web Store for PC users and the Mac App Store for Apple users. Some apps may require in-app purchases.
1. When I Work
If you’re spending numerous hours each week in Excel spreadsheets scheduling employees, When I Work is the answer to your prayers. The bells and whistles we love in this app? The ability for employees to not only view published schedules but request shift changes and communicate with other employees right from their the app. Did we mention there’s a free version for up to 75 employees? If you need more features or have more than the allowed number of staff, expect to pay a monthly fee.
If your scheduling needs exceed the free version of the previous app, you can check out Deputy for as little as $2 a month. This scheduling app is similar to When I Work in that it allows you to schedule employee shifts easily, but it also has additional features such as task management and employee communication tools. If you’re looking to try it out before you commit, Deputy also offers a free trial.
If you’re anything like us, you have at least three different calendars going at any given time. Crave consolidation and simplicity? Run out of excuses for forgetting your anniversary? Cal is your lifeline. What we love about Cal (besides its beautiful design) is its ability to sync with Any.do — the task app made by the same company. Because hey, isn’t it time you stop dreading looking at your calendar and start enjoying it?
Whether your email marketing campaign is in full swing, or it’s just a glimmer of a task on the back burner, MailChimp is one of our favorite (and most user-friendly) apps we recommend. Collect email address, create campaigns and gain additional customers. What we love best — the ability to integrate your POS software with MailChimp. It’s also free for up to 12,000 emails.
Are you tired of trying to figure out what your customers want or their perception of your store? With SurveyMonkey, you can stop guessing and know the facts. Knowing what customers want enables you to take that information and turn it into actionable items to help drive the business forward.
Not only is SurveyMonkey our personal favorite because we use it, but it also integrates with MailChimp. And do you remember what MailChimp integrates with? Right, your POS software. For instance, you can capture customer email addresses at the point of sale with SkopKeep. Sync your ShopKeep customer list with MailChimp and sync your MailChimp list with SurveyMonkey for a trifecta of integrated retail apps.
Best of all, you can start sending out surveys for free with their basic plan or upgrade for more advanced features for $35 per month.
One thing you don’t need a survey to tell you is customers like a good deal. And the best place for a local business to post those deals are on Groupon — a shopping app that is redefining how small businesses attract and retain customers. With 43 million users, there isn’t another platform on the market that will put your business in front of that many potential customers.
Serving 48 countries around the globe, you not only reach local customers, but customers who are planning a visit to your city. For example, a customer from Paris can find your local New York City Groupon deal and add it to their holiday itinerary when they visit the states.
What’s nice about Groupon is that it will only cost you a percentage of the revenue you generate on their platform. Although you’d like your deal to be a hit, if it’s a flop at least it won’t cost you too much money.
Though it might not happen a lot in your store, having access to a small business app to manage staff expenses should always be available. Maybe an employee took a cab home after a late shift or someone on your team ran out to purchase cupcakes for another employee’s birthday. Regardless of the reason, you need to have a system in place to pay these employees back ASAP. Expensify gives you that. Employees snap pictures of their receipt, select the report the expense it’s associated with, and submit it to their employer. The app is free for individual users, so depending on the size of your business you might not have to spend a dime.
Because you’re the busiest person you know, TaskRabbit is one of the best retail apps for small business owners. You submit a task, they match you with a skilled Tasker, and you have one less thing on your plate. So if you can’t get your laundry done, or pick up your dry cleaning because you’re busy doing inventory, TaskRabbit is the backup you need to make sure your socks are always clean.
Because you shouldn’t always have to be at your desk to do your accounting, QuickBooks Online allows you the ability to complete many of the tasks you normally would on your desktop. You can create, view, and email estimates. You can also track costs, download and reconcile bank transactions, and use your Custom QuickBooks Online forms. So, if you have the urge to do your expenses in the park, you’re more than able.
If the only kind of paper you want cluttering your desk to be of the news variety, Neat can help you with that. This app allows small businesses to easily manage receipts and track expenses by scanning documents into the Neat software. After you scan, the information is just a click away. Just snap a shot with your smartphone or scan your document with your personal scanner (or one you can purchase from Neat). Honestly, until you’ve cleared your desk (or shop counter) of paper clutter, you haven’t experienced joy.
11. ShopKeep Pocket
It’s the retailer app to trump all small business apps — though we might be biased. Designed by a merchant who refused to be held hostage by archaic retail store software and POS systems, ShopKeep makes ringing up sales and growing a business easy.
And since we’re biased, we don’t want you to just take our word for it. Check out what our customers are saying and our five-star rating on the acclaimed review website, TrustPilot.
Stop counting your text messages and data. WhatsApp, a free messaging platform, allows you to communicate in one-on-one and group chats. It’s similar to Facebook Messenger, but the upside is that your employees don’t need to be on Facebook to use it. Just download the app, add people from your contacts and voila!
What could be better than an app that both dazzles patrons and transforms them into loyal customers? Not much. Perka — a loyalty rewards app — can do both. Customers simply download the app, check in when they are making a purchase, and watch their points accrue to redeem towards purchases at a later date. It’s simple math: happy customers + repeat visits = increases in sales. Class dismissed.
If your small retail business isn’t on social media, that’s a whole other post. But, assuming it is, you need a way to manage your different social accounts. Enter Hootsuite, one of the most popular (and our personal favorite) social media management apps. With Hootsuite, you can not only manage all of your social media accounts — Hootsuite integrates with over 35 social networks — but you can also dig deep into analytics while learning how to increase your social reach.
15. Facebook Pages Manager
Though apps like Hootsuite are great for managing posts. Sometimes you’re going to want to dig a little deeper into your social media strategy, specifically Facebook. That’s where Facebook Pages Manager comes in. Though it might be a mouthful to say, it’s surprisingly easy to use. It’s extremely helpful if you’re an on-the-go type of manager or if you have multiple Facebook pages to manage. The app is very versatile, and you can pretty much do everything on it that you can on your desktop: post updates, reply to messages, view insights, etc. You can even create new pages.
SEE ALSO: Survey Says: Facebook is King for Small Business
16. Google Hangouts
If you’re the co-owner or co-manager of a shop, Google Hangouts can be particularly helpful. Not familiar with Hangouts? It’s an absolute must for conducting meetings or interviews remotely or sharing screens and documents remotely. And since Google is the most widely used email service, chances are your staff or potential employees will already have an account. They can easily download Hangouts from the app store on their mobile devices, and we especially like this app for those staff meetings on days where not everyone is scheduled. Never drag an employee into your shop on their off day again!
For the busiest times of the year, we love Asana — a stellar project management app that will organize you and your retail staff in no time. Free to use for the basic plan, Asana lets you track projects from start to finish, assigning tasks to numerous individuals. It’s incredibly user-friendly and gives pricier project management tools a run for their money.
Similar to Pandora, but more customizable, Spotify is a music streaming app that allows you play requested songs, full albums, and create personalized playlists. If you want to make sure you know exactly what will be playing in your story, this is the streaming service for you. Though a music app might not scream “small business app,” remember that creating an inviting store experience is key to customer satisfaction. Not only that, but there are many studies about how music can affect shoppers’ behavior.
19. A Color Story
If you’re a small business, you’re bound to do some marketing. If so, you should be using A Color Story — a photo-editing app with filters, tools, and simple light effects to create fresh and colorful photos. Since our iPhone and Android phones have such powerful cameras these days, a few edits with A Color Story will really make your images look professional. Use it for social media photos, website photos, or email marketing images. After all, even the best photographer can use a little boost now and again.
Similar to A Color Story, Canva is a must have for any small business owner looking to step up their marketing game. Not only can you create beautiful imagery but you can also create beautiful documents — everything from business cards to postcards and event tickets. Make your brand beautiful across all mediums using free templates, in-app purchases, or upload your own. Canva is free to use, or you can upgrade to their $12.95 monthly plan to unlock more features, photos, and illustrations.
21. Word Swag
Rounding out some of the design platforms on this list of best retail apps is Word Swag — a highly-rated app that allows users to add beautiful text to their images in just minutes. Because of its simplicity, there’s no need to have design experience to use this app. Just select your photo, choose what you want to say, and view your beautiful new image. It’s literally that easy.
Because attractive and efficient floor plans don’t magically create themselves, there’s MagicPlan — a floor plan creating app with surprising accuracy. This app allows you to measure, design, and place furniture and display cases in your store, before you break the bank purchasing large items. It will also prevent wear and tear on your floors from re-arranging large furniture, something we know your landlord will appreciate.
If you’re looking for a simple and beautiful app to help you keep track of everyday to-do lists, Todoist is your newest obsession. You can access tasks from anywhere on any device. Now your employees won’t have to remind you to run payroll, and your significant other can stop nagging you to pick up your dry cleaning. Life simplified. Period.
If you’re still looking for additional business apps, wander over to GetApp — an online marketplace that will help you find everything from finance and accounting apps to project management apps.
If these retail apps have inspired you to work smarter, not harder, we’ve done our job. But if we’ve left out a few of your personal favorites, let us know your best retail apps! Leave us a comment below or tweet at us @ShopKeep.