Modernization of local businesses

My father runs a medical retail store. Our business channels are the usual ones: customers who visit the shop and a few select ones who are regulars so my father goes to deliver to their houses. The business has been going on for more than 25 years now.

Needless to say, the business mechanisms that worked when the shop first opened do not work so well now. There are more shops in the neighborhood now, for one. There is not proper record of inventory in our shop. No graphs to measure daily sales. Nothing to tell you which are the most/worst selling products etc.

As a child, I was never really interested in the family business. As long as there was an income, I did not care in the behind-the-scenes activities that generated it. Now having worked in the analytics industry close to a year now, I am slowly learning to appreciate the potential in different businesses. Naturally, my first focus is my own family business.

The fact that my father was never able to make much savings always bothered me. Why was it that he could not save much? What was our actual annual income and what was our expenditure? In the business of medicine, quite a huge portion of the capital goes in stocking up. So, how much really remains as net income?

I learned that my father does maintain a daily sales and payments document, but that is on paper. My plan is to be able to move everything to the computer. Computerizing things will help keeping track of inventory much better. We would also have an overview of the daily/monthly/yearly sales at our fingertips.

For starters, I am thinking of using Excel. We are not too big to invest in any kind of software. Another constraint is the skill to use any software. We have had computer in the house since 2010 I believe, but my parents are not computer literate yet. My mother has made efforts to learn computer basics at different points in time, but for her generation, ramping up with such technology  takes longer than our generation.

I did consider using RFID tags/bar code readers for inventory. But I am not sure how feasible it is from a medical store point of view. The nature of business is such that you might be selling five capsules from a strip of ten if your customer asks for it. How do you use a bar code to track such kind of sale? If any of you has any clue, do let me know.

By the year end, my goal is to computerize our stock and sales. It would be a learning experience for me. Once we are able to computerize stuff, we can think of having POS terminals that allow payment by cards. As of now, the only mode of payment is by cash.

Do any of you have any experience in managing small business? Do you use computers/software to manage inventory? Share your experiences with me so that I can learn from you.



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