How does your Business use its Point of Sale?
The point of sale in a business is most commonly thought of as being the checkout, a workstation where customers make payment for goods they wish to purchase. The retailer works out how much the customer owes, offers options for payment (for example cash or card), and issues a receipt at the POS. Equipment used to conduct this operation might include a cash register (manual or electronic), bar-code scanners, perhaps weighing scales, and any other hardware which the business requires.
More than a Place for Charging Customers
Increasingly, businesses are employing the latest technology to turn their checkout desks into points of service rather than points of sale. This philosophy sees the space previously used solely for the purpose of accepting payment turned into profitable floor space. As well as enabling returns to be made at the cash register, modern hardware and software provides business benefits such as:
- Inventory management
- CRM functionality
- Back office integration for accounting
Though the profit made from these operations may not be immediately visible, each impacts cash flow and the bottom line.
How POS Systems are Profit Generators
Automated inventory management allows a business to accurately assess stock levels in real time, ensuring new stock is bought as it is needed. Stores need never run short of stock and miss sales opportunities again, and overstocking, with ‘money left on the shelf’, will no longer negatively impact cash flow.
The best POS systems track inventories and compare sales of individual items from one sales period to the next. This helps in identifying customer trends, and predicting future best-selling products and services.
System generated reports enable a business to review recent prices paid for stock as well as the average price paid over a period of time, enabling keen negotiation of future price paid.
As the sale is processed, customer details may be captured providing unparalleled CRM capability. Businesses may then target marketing campaigns to those customers who offer the greatest opportunity for any promotional type. This reduces marketing cost and increases conversions.
Straight through processing of sales data cuts down on the time it takes to balance books, with 100% accuracy.
The modern point of sale speeds customer processing times, increases efficiency throughout the business, and reduces costs. Better and faster customer service prompts higher numbers of customers to return, and marketing becomes more effective with a higher ROI. The value to a business is, probably, unrivalled, though many businesses fail to maximise that value.
3 Questions to Ask of Your POS
POS systems can cost as little as the price of a couple of cups of coffee each day. However, while such a system will provide sizeable and immediate benefits there are three questions a business should ask before making a decision and committing its cash.
- Will the system track inventory how we need it to?
Think about the benefits you wish to see from inventory tracking. Do you want buying departments to be alerted when stock is low? How easy is it to add new products to the system? Some systems will be able to generate automated purchase orders: would this benefit you?
- How easy is it to use?
Complex businesses will probably need higher functionality and more features from its POS systems. This may require higher degrees of training. The best systems balance both functionality and usability.
- Can the system grow with the business?
Businesses with constrictive budgets can start small and reap the profitable benefits immediately. As your business grows you will want to scale up, adding capability and functionality. Make sure the system you invest in can be added to and grow with your business.
The Bottom Line
Time is money, and so are effective management systems. Your cash register position should be seen as a place to increase customer interaction, and a conduit for data flow to the whole of your business.
Perhaps the ultimate in customer service and care is the ability for staff to ‘go mobile’, using the latest technology to take the service desk to the customer wherever they are; in-house or in the field. IPad and mobile functionality allows all the benefits of POS to reach your customers where they stand, no longer confined to a few expensive square feet near the exit of your business venue.
When a business invests in the best hardware and software to achieve its aims, it will benefit from reduced costs and increasing sales. Staff morale will rise and customer experiences improve, further enhancing the bottom line. Answering the three questions above will help ensure your business sees all the benefits it anticipates.