There are plenty of point-of-sale providers retailers can choose from — but not all POS systems are created equally, and not all have the features that can actually better your business, in terms of improved customer convenience strategies that also deliver on your business needs and goals (including those in multiple channels) at any given time. Here are a few key features all retailers should look for when choosing a POS system.
The capability to “meet” customers anywhere
Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of using a mobile device, including smartphones and tablets to perform the same functions that fixed or desktop systems have traditionally provided, including checking and opening emails, online research of product information — and completing purchases. Given that major retailers like Apple, Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters have already begun to execute their own iterations of what the new mobile retail experience will entail, retailers of all sizes should be prepared for changing customer expectations, including being “met” by the retailer as part of the purchase and checkout experience.
When you choose POS technology equipped to work as a mobile device in tandem with a traditional fixed POS system (and those systems “talk” to one another), you equip your customer service team to act as a mobile checkout resource from anywhere in the storefront, with the aid of a mobile point-of-sale checkout system. The “check out anywhere” capability not only improves the customer experience; it optimizes your company’s investment (and ROI) in staff’s time, and minimizes the risk of lost sales that can result when customers forgo making a purchase because of long checkout lines.
The ability to manage inventory in real time
Real-time inventory management isn’t just a way to optimize your cash flow and stock on hand. Customers now expect that a retailer knows and shares exactly what is in stock at any given time, and they use that information as part of their purchase decision process. According to a January 2014 study published by Accenture and Forrester Research, 71 percent of consumers expect to view in-store inventory online; 50 percent expect to be able to buy online and pick up in-store. You don’t have to be a behemoth retail outfit to replicate the real-time inventory and supply chain controls (that have made brands like Wal-Mart leaders in the industry) to deliver on this expectation, but you do need a POS system specifically equipped to provide real-time inventory management (particularly if you’re an omni-channel retailer with multiple storefronts and e-commerce channels).
Select a system that allows you to balance stock across locations, enter purchase orders, receive inbound inventory and assign barcodes to new products for anywhere — including a till, back office and a mobile device. With such real-time inventory management and response capabilities, you achieve improved internal controls — and a competitive advantage: Despite customer expectations, Accenture estimates that only a third of retailers have operationalized real-time inventory management at even a basic level.
The ability to uniquely target customers based on business needs
The capability to offer appropriate customer promotions based on the unique goals, performance history and inventory levels across multiple locations in your retail operation can be a complex matter that not all POS systems are equipped to handle. When you choose a POS system specifically designed to accommodate multisite operations, you can target customers based on their purchase and promotional redemption history while taking into account the unique business needs of each of your retail locations at any given moment. With such a POS system, for example, you can design unique offers for specific customer segments, at the times specific retail locations need the most sales support. For example, you might message staff through your POS system to “upsell” loyal VIP customers with a limited-time discounts valid at defined locations, during slow hours of operation. Once a specific sales threshold is reached, you can expire the promotion in the POS system, on a location basis.
A point-of-sale system is much more than a way to process customer transactions, collect sales data and manage inventory. When you choose a POS specifically designed to improve your existing internal processes and customer offerings, you don’t just find a way to conduct “business as usual” — you can leverage new opportunities to strategically optimize every function of your retail business, from the inside out.
About the Author –
Tim Flachman of Bepoz America is a POS expert who writes about topics including event technology, retail software, entrepreneurship and more.