Today’s Point of Sale or POS software suites are vital tools that can allow you to comprehensively manage your operation, whether you have a booth at a farmer’s market or a chain of stores across the country — or even around the world.
Surprisingly, 56% of small retailers consulted by Software Advice said they did not have a POS system installed. It can be daunting to completely change your sales paradigm, however, it can also be extremely rewarding in the long run. But how do you tell the features you really need from the bells and whistles that are more trouble than they’re worth? This article can help.
With such feature-rich software, some sort of learning curve is given. Fortunately, however, intuitive touchscreen interfaces and iPad POS systems can dramatically flatten the curve and allow your employees, and yourself, to quickly learn the basics on your way toward mastering the system.
Here are several features you won’t want to be without which can make life easier for you and your employees while helping you pump up your profits.
This is an umbrella that covers several critical features for a modern retailer. Too often, a retailer will sell both online and at a physical location but fail to completely integrate both operations. The result can be overworked, confused employees, frustrated customers, and worst of all, money left on the table because the right-hand doesn’t know immediately what the left hand is doing, and customers or potential customers are not able to make a purchase via their preferred method.
This is the backbone of an omnichannel retail system. Robust universal inventory management features from importing your existing data to ordering stock directly from the POS to viewing inventory in real-time will ensure that both your employees and your customers know exactly what’s in stock on demand.
84% of retailers who consulted with Software Advice wanted information on inventory management. It may be a bit of a challenge to get up and running, but with quick setup features and simple importing, it won’t be nearly as tedious as you might imagine. And once it’s online, your integrated inventory management system will pay for itself many times over.
Centralize Customer Data
Customer data is like gold dust in the retail world. The more you can accumulate and the easier it is to access across all your sales channels, the more effectively it can be monetized. The ability to understand who spends the most and from which channels is a direct line to increasing your profits.
Tracking your customers’ activity allows you to reward them for their loyalty as well as more precisely target your sales campaigns. If you know that many of your customers are buying after viewing a social media posting, for example, you can continue to bolster your social media presence and focus more of your marketing efforts in that area.
On the other hand, you may notice that you’re not receiving many sales through other potentially valuable marketing channels; this could prompt you to optimize those channels until you see a measurable increase in sales.
Reward Customer Loyalty
If you have a customer loyalty program for customers who shop at your brick-and-mortar store, shouldn’t you have one for your online shoppers as well? If you don’t, you could be missing out on sales from loyal customers who may wish to make purchases online but are less inclined to do so because they will not receive loyalty credit for their purchase. Omnichannel customer loyalty systems allow you to reward customers no matter how they shop. In turn, you are rewarded with increased sales.
Loyal Tee, a t-shirt boutique in Clio, Michigan, was one of the first shops to see how powerful omnichannel Loyalty can be. “That was a game-changer for us,” shared Tori, Loyal Tee’s founder. So much so, they’ve already moved their shop to a location two and a half times larger.
“Customers save up their points to get free items; they come in and end up purchasing quite a bit more because they have their loyalty rewards.” Tori from Loyal Tee.
Sales Reporting And Analysis
Along with the preferences of individual customers, overall reporting on your sales is extremely valuable as you seek to grow your business. A good POS software for retail will feature extensive reporting capabilities which you can utilize to see what’s working and what’s not when it comes to your sales strategy. You can even receive this data in real-time, which can enable you to adjust short-term sales tactics to increase the effectiveness of a particular promotion.
Is a given product worth selling at your current margin? Should you replace it with something similar? This is the kind of strategic selling you’re able to engage in with a comprehensive reporting solution at your back.
Accept Everything, Everywhere
Last but not least, ensure your POS system can accept all modern forms of payment. Whether it’s EMV, PCI, or any other widely-adopted standard, your POS devices should be compatible. This also makes it much easier for customers to receive refunds — should the need arise — without being required to provide their original form of payment.
Additionally, mobile payment processing capability means you can take payment at the table or on the shelf. You will no longer lose customers because they’re turned off by the length of the checkout line.
While it may not be absolutely necessary to invest in a modern, cloud-based POS system, it could be said that it is a path to more substantial growth for your business. Sure, there will be a learning curve, but with a little research and some hands-on training, you can minimize the time it will take you to get up and running while maximizing your return on investment in your new retail POS system.
Securing Your POS System
Last but most important; it’s critical that you secure your POS system against modern malware threats. At some point, POS software needs to decrypt credit card data before each payment can be processed, and this is the point where malware tries to highjack this data.
Generally, malignant programs try to copy all data in memory to an external server where it can be harvested to extract credit card numbers and related information such as PINs. This is how in 2016, 20 hotels in the US had their PoS system compromised.
To secure against POS malware, you’ll want to take precautions similar to those that would make sense for your regular business PC. While you could adopt draconian measures such as not allowing remote access to your POS, you need not go quite that far.
Employing an endpoint protection solution can button up your system against even the most sophisticated attacks while still allowing for remote access. And as always, it’s critical to keep your POS software up to date to avail yourself of the latest bug fixes and manufacturer mitigations against security threats.
While it may not be absolutely necessary to invest in a modern, cloud-based POS system, it could be said that it is a path to more substantial growth for your business. Sure, there will be a learning curve, and, as with other PC systems, there are security concerns, but with a little research and some hands-on training you can minimize the time it will take you to get up and running while maximizing your return on investment in your new retail POS system.