Reliable POS (point of sale) systems are vital if you’re a small business retailer. But a good POS system can let you do much more than process customer purchases. It can streamline your business in all sorts of ways. So what are the ways it can benefit your business?
Retail POS systems are changing
If you run a retail business, you'll understand the need for a good point of sale system. The last thing you want is queues of customers waiting impatiently in line while your sales staff manually enter the details of their purchases into your system.
But there's more to a good point of sale system than just handling payments and recording sales quickly. If selling products is at the core of your business, your POS system should also be at that core. Being able to track sales, manage inventory, empower staff, identify regular customers and get the pricing right are a few of the things a good POS system should do.
Cloud-based software is flexible
Those tasks are a tall order for a conventional POS system, but new cloud-based applications (or apps) can be more flexible. They allow you to bring together different aspects of your business, while sharing useful data with whoever needs it. There are many ways your retail business could benefit from the latest generation of POS systems, especially when integrated with accounting software and other cloud-based apps. Here are some examples of ways your business can benefit.
If selling products is at the core of your business,
your POS system should also be at that core.
Go mobile – take the checkout counter to your customers
In the conventional retail business model, people wander around your shop looking for things to buy and then bring them to a checkout counter to pay. But that model is changing fast.
Tablets and smartphones now enable your staff to take the checkout counter to your customers. With good POS software and a simple plug-in scanner, a hand-held device can become a mobile checkout.
This means you can rearrange your store so it's more attractive to your customers, instead of having to design it around a fixed checkout counter.
Increase your sales with on-the-spot purchasing
With mobile POS, your staff no longer have to wait for buyers to come to them – they can approach customers anywhere in the store and help them make their buying decisions. And if the POS software is integrated with good accounting software, your employees can handle credit card payments immediately and email the customer their receipt.
The big advantage of this is psychological – your retail staff can strike while the iron is hot. Customers are more likely to make assisted purchases on the spot, rather than pick up an item by themselves and carry it to the checkout. By removing that psychological barrier to purchase, you're likely to increase your sales.
Knowledge is power for employees
Staff turnover can be high in the retail sector, partly due to employee dissatisfaction. Some companies don't give their staff the tools they need to do their job properly.
Information is key to selling. The more information you give your employees about the range of products your business offers, the easier and more fulfilling their jobs will be. Your staff might not be able to retain detailed knowledge of your entire product range, but the next best thing to having that information in their heads is having it in their hands.
A good quality, easy-to-learn POS system will supply in-depth information about the products you sell, with useful references to related items, up-selling suggestions and sales tips. This will help your employees do their jobs better.
Mobile POS: Ways to empower staff and monitor performance
- Make sure information is at their fingertips
Get staff to use information about the products you sell in creative ways. Your salespeople can then anticipate customers' questions and guide them towards the benefits of purchasing a particular item. This gives your staff more control over their work.
- Offer reward schemes
If you have a reward scheme in place for high-performing sales staff, then all your employees will have an incentive to use product information to increase sales.
- Identify gaps in knowledge and fill them
Good POS apps can also help you identify your less successful sales staff, so you can provide support and training to those who need it most.
Gain and keep the trust of customers with secure systems
Some of your customers might question the idea of entering their credit card details into another person's smartphone or tablet. But good POS software will let you make the user interface plain and simple, hiding the app selection screen and making the smartphone or tablet look like a single-purpose sales device.
That will help your customers trust you, but you need to respect and repay that trust. All of your customers' private data should be securely encrypted, especially credit card details and other payment information. If you have any doubts, consult a security expert to audit your systems. Don't take any risks with customer data.
Simplify inventory management
Small business retailers understand the importance of inventory management. But doing this by hand can be time-consuming and limiting. For example, it's hard to tell which products happen to sell well on sunny Tuesday afternoons just by scrolling through paper receipts.
Good quality POS software will have inventory management built-in or as an add-on. This should help you establish which are your best-selling (and worst-selling) products. You should be able to 'drill down' further into the data to find out which products sell well on which days, or in which months, and at which prices.
This will let you fine-tune your inventory management process so you never run out of stock of your best-sellers, or waste shelf space on items that don't sell. When tied into your cloud-based accounting software, it'll let you quickly see which product lines are the most profitable – right now, in real time.
And it will help you adjust your pricing policy to take account of customer behavior. This means everything you sell can be priced at the best point for you, keeping your business competitive while maintaining your profit margin.
Understand your customers better and increase sales
While you're joining systems together, think about how you can use the information you hold about your existing customers. This is CRM (customer relationship management) and there are cloud-based apps that will let you manage your customer database and tie it into your POS, if it isn't already.
So simply by asking customers their names, your sales team can quickly call up their entire purchase history, preferences, interests and even birthdays. If you use this information to develop customer loyalty programs, special offers and promotions, you'll be able to sell more products per customer.
Keep your customers happy and save money
A golden rule of business is that it's much easier and cheaper to hold onto an existing customer than to gain a new one.
With a good CRM system and clever loyalty rewards, all plugged into your POS and accounting software, you can save precious time and money and keep existing customers happy.
What cloud-based POS means for small business
Just a few years ago, a cloud-based system combining POS, accounting, CRM, inventory management and loyalty programs would have seemed like science fiction. But with the right software, it can be done here and now and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. Most cloud software is subscription-based, so you pay monthly rather than a big up-front cost. Support is available around the clock and you’ll never have to do or pay for software upgrades, ever.
With cloud-based POS and accounting apps that are easy to learn, flexible and expandable, you can provide a tailored service and maximize your profits. You can get things done quickly, from wherever you want and analyze everything about your retail business, to tap into opportunities for growth.