The Intel Small Business Series focuses on Small Business owners and how they are reacting to the demands and opportunities presented by emergent technology.
When Rebecca Pearcy launched her handbag retail store, Queen Bee Creations, in 1996, the Internet was just hitting the mainstream. Brand websites weren’t yet the norm, and social media didn’t even exist. As Queen Bee has grown and evolved, so have their efforts to adopt and integrate tech into the business.
“Over the past 20 years, so much has changed,” Pearcy says. “That’s really exciting in a lot of ways, but also has its own challenges.”
When Tech Challenges are the Toughest
Like most small businesses, there’s no IT department at Queen Bee. Pearcy was a maker from the start, selling handmade bags in college and launching Queen Bee shortly after finishing her degree. Today, she manages the brick and mortar store in Portland, Oregon, a bustling website and social media presence, and a wholesale business that ships Queen Bee creations across the country.
Technology has evolved tremendously over that time, and Pearcy says it’s important for her to use tech tools to grow her business. The small team uses a mix of devices to accomplish a variety of tasks, from ordering materials on a desktop computer to checking out customers using a tablet. As the business has grown, Pearcy says she hopes to establish a regular cadence to update old devices.
“We had two PCs and my computer too that all needed to be replaced and we had to keep pushing it until we could actually afford to do it," she says.
Tools to Integrate Finances and Customer Data
At the top of Queen Bee’s current tech challenges is finding tools that automate laborious processes. Because Queen Bee sells products in their online store, brick and mortar, and boutique shops all over the country, tracking inventory can get complicated, fast.
Even though they use Shopify for both the online platform and the in-store POS system, there’s still a lot of manual work to be done when it comes to integrating inventory and accounting. “We’re moving from Quickbooks desktop to Quickbooks online, so we can have our Shopify POS system talk to Quickbooks directly,” says Pearcy. “Because right now, we have to enter every sale manually into Quickbooks.”
Pearcy is hoping the transition will go smoothly, but she also knows there’s a good chance of a few wrinkles to iron out in the first few weeks after Queen Bee makes the switch.
“You look into these tools and they all say, ‘This tool works perfectly with this other tool.’ But it never does,” Pearcy says. “It’s never actually that simple. So we’ll have to find out the best way to do this. I have to assume there will be a third party app that will allow those two to connect.”
Looking Ahead for Solutions
Once they get the POS system and the accounting software to communicate with one another, it’s on to the next challenge — because as with any small business, time is at a premium and there’s a long list of things to do. Next, Pearcy says they’ll be exploring loyalty program options for a small business.
“We have so many repeat customers, and once they fall in love with what we do, they come back over and over again,” she says. “So I like to reward them for that and let them know we appreciate them.”
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