All-in-one platform simplifies store management
and drives foot traffic
In a perfect world, a 21st century music store would run like Mission Control. Inventory and point of sale systems would talk to each other seamlessly, syncing data with accounting software, e-commerce platforms, and rental and repair systems as needed. If your store looks nothing like Mission Control, you might not need to wait for a perfect world—you might just need some new software. At Utah-based Rain Retail Software, programmers have created a cloud-based platform that lets business systems share information effortlessly; for instance, updating inventory levels when an item rings up at point of sale, or automatically flagging a SKU for reorder when it’s running low. For retailers, it means less work and more organization, but just as important is what it means for consumers. In surveys, a majority of shoppers say they’d prefer to buy from a brick-and-mortar store, but they also want the frictionless experience more common to e-commerce: viewing exactly what’s in stock and managing orders and services through personal accounts. Rain’s platform gives them all of this—and according to Rain’s figures, it tends to pay off immediately: On average, Rain users report a 20% revenue increase after the system goes live.
“Most retailers have separate software systems to manage different aspects of their business that don’t communicate or work together in any way,” says Sean Roylance, founder and CEO of Rain. “Rain combines these systems into an all-in-one, cloud-based solution, cutting inventory management time in half, driving new business from the web into the store, and dramatically increasing efficiencies that drive higher revenue.”
Founded in 2008, Rain created its platform for small to medium-sized specialty retailers including sporting goods and hobbyist shops—businesses that tend to offer classes, rentals, and repairs demanding their own management systems. Needless to say, the company found similar turf when it began serving music stores two years ago. With Rain, the key is that every system is structured around a cloud-based database so information can be entered just once and used across multiple applications. Proprietary e-commerce websites, provided and hosted by Rain, are linked to inventory management so they always reflect current stocking levels. Business owners are alerted when a SKU runs low so it can be added to the next purchase order with the click of a button. Multiple store locations can be managed at a glance, letting the owner transfer inventory between stores as needed. The system also integrates with QuickBooks accounting software—and because it’s mobile-optimized and based in the cloud, store employees can access it from any screen.
On the consumer side, Rain loops in retail customers with a wealth of information that starts with leading them to the store. Because the platform emphasizes search engine optimization (SEO)—especially local SEO—consumers searching online for the nearest store carrying the product they need will find it, along with real-time inventory levels ensuring the product is in stock. According to survey data, 76% of consumers who run this type of search will visit a store within 24 hours. Once that shopper becomes a customer, Rain provides a personal account where they can manage orders and rentals, receive marketing emails and alerts, and take advantage of rewards offered by the retailer, all within a single platform. For repairs, Rain generates a bar code that’s applied to the instrument and scanned at every stage of the process, allowing the retailer to follow its progress the way they’d track a shipped package. Customers can be notified by text when it’s finished. Meanwhile, any parts used in the repair are automatically taken out of inventory and added to the customer’s invoice.
Now used across North America, the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand, Rain continues to add pieces to its platform. Upcoming versions of the software will include an application for managing “rent-to-own” transactions, as well as integration with Reverb.com. Retailers will be able to offer any or all of their inventory on Reverb with the click of a button, as Rain automatically creates Reverb listings and updates inventory levels when they sell. As Roylance says, “We are excited to help brick-and-mortar music retailers take back market share, growing their foot traffic and their profits through our cloud-based, all-in-one retail management solution.”
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