If you own a retail store, or have ever worked behind the counter at one, then you know that the checkout register is where the transactions take place. Shoppers exchange their hard-earned money for merchandise that they wish to purchase. They leave with products and a receipt, and your cash register has more money. But if this all that’s taking place before your customers leave your store with bagged goods in hand, then you’re missing out on not just one opportunity, but many.
Payments shouldn’t be the only thing you collect from your customers at the register, and that’s the first point we want you to understand from reading this article—interfacing with customers at the register is your best chance to sell more and motivate them to return soon. And it all starts with your point-of-sale system.
If you’re unfamiliar, a point-of-sale system, also referred to as a POS system, is the system you have in place for completing a sale transaction at your store. When a customer pays for goods or services, you are both completing a point-of-sale transaction. A POS system can be as simple as taking cash, making change, and handing over a receipt and the items bought with no record keeping to go along with it, as you might find with a child’s lemonade stand. Or it can be as sophisticated as a fully digitized cloud-based system with broad yet detailed record-keeping capabilities. Both sides of the spectrum fulfill the literal definition of a “point-of-sale system”.
So, how dynamic—or simplistic—is the POS system at your store?
Chances are, even if you’re using a digital POS system, you haven’t yet maximized the benefits of it, which is why you’re here. The first question you want to ask yourself is, when you make sales transactions with your customers, is the payment the only thing you collect from them?
You might be wondering, what else could you collect from your customers while you’re ringing up their purchases? In this article, we will look at the answer to that question, including the advantages and benefits that go with it, so that by the time you’ve read to the end, you’ll not only know “what’s the point” of using a digital POS system, but you’ll know exactly how to get the most out of it.
COLLECT CUSTOMER DATA
Whenever a shopper makes a purchase, you can collect valuable information about them with your digital POS system, and this information can go far beyond their name, home address, phone number, and email address. Your digital POS system will create a customer profile based on this basic information, yes, but more importantly, the shopper’s full order history will be recorded there. A solid POS system will store all of this data and allow you to generate useful reports. These reports can help you understand your customers’ personal spending thresholds, favored products and services, and even the times of day and days of the week that they tend to shop.
Imagine if you had personalized customer insights at your fingertips. Knowing that Jane always treats herself to a manicure the first Friday of the month, you could target her by sending her a promotional email that Friday morning that includes a 10% discount so long as she gets a pedicure as well. How could Jane say no to that? The timing of the promotion might seem uncanny to her and she will be likely to take advantage of the deal, all the while you’ll know that it wasn’t by chance that she received that specific promotional offer. In fact, you were able to target her with a discount she can’t refuse, because you were able to leverage the insights that your POS system collected about her.
LEVERAGE DATA INTO DEALS
As we described with the example of Jane’s manicure routine, when a customer’s shopping preferences are leveraged into targeted promotions, those promotions are far more likely to be claimed by the customer, and therefore successful. When your sales staff is consistent at the counter in their effort to quickly input customer details so that your POS system can store and track their spending habits, then you will have a wealth of data to work with. Being able to view your customers’ order histories will enable you to analyze reports that are relevant to specific products and services. This information will show you trends. With the click of a button, you can make yourself aware of unpopular products and may choose to discontinue them in order to purchase more products from your vendors that are selling easily.
Reviewing order history data can help you take the guesswork out of your marketing promotional campaigns. It can also help you promote select products to only those customers who have an order history of buying similar products in the past. If you’re considering setting up a seasonal sale, for example, you can alert the customers who will be the most likely to come and spend, and refrain from “over contacting” those customers who don’t have a history of acting on season-specific deals.
Expanding upon the last “point”—and its associated advantages and benefits—of using a digital point-of-sale system, let’s take a deeper dive into leveraging customer data and look at the strategies of issuing personalized promotions. As you now know, your POS system can collect customer information and store order histories within customer profiles, and you can use this data to craft highly-targeted promotional campaigns. But what is the best strategy to contact your customers with these promotions? It’s safe to say, that the best strategy is the one where your customer is successfully informed of the promotion. Unfortunately, considering that less than 20% of promotional emails actually get opened, successfully informing your customers of promotions they’re likely to act on is easier said than done.
While it’s still a good idea to email customers, there are two far more successful strategies in terms of incentivizing your customers to act on deals and discounts that promote greater spending. The good news is that your digital POS system, if it’s well-built with the latest technology, can handle both. These days, perhaps the best way to contact your customers is via SMS text message. While emails can go unopened, or worse, go straight to the recipient’s spam folder, an SMS text message is far harder to overlook. The customer’s smartphone will ding or vibrate, and they’ll open it immediately. If the message contains a brief caption about the promotion you’re offering as well as a URL link to the digital coupon they can use, it will be easy to convey the promotion and convenient for your customer to act on it. This is perhaps the most effective way of motivating your customers to return to your retail store.
The other strategy is relevant to shoppers who are already in your store and already engaging with your POS system. Namely, implementing pop-up scripts for your sales staff. As your customers’ products or services are being scanned into the POS system, the system will input those items into their customer profile. The digital display that your sales person is looking at will show a “pop-up” of additional items that your customer might like to add to their order right then and there. The pop-up script could also include promotional deals that the customer might like to apply. Having these extra recommendations at the checkout counter is an effective way to encourage additional spending before the customer leaves your store. But bear in mind, not all digital POS systems come with this feature, so if you’re shopping around for a point-of-sale system, be sure to purchase one that comes with pop-up scripts that you can design yourself.
OFFER PERKS FOR LOYALTY
Numerous research studies have found that an overwhelming majority of consumers—from 60% to 83%--factor in loyalty rewards programs when deciding where to shop. Customers who are enrolled in a rewards program with a gas station chain will consistently choose that chain over the other gasoline competitors, for example. A customer loyalty rewards program is a tried-and-true strategy to engage customers and encourage repeat business. For this reason, there really is no downside to initiating a loyalty rewards program at your retail store and integrating it with your POS system.
There are many reasons to integrate POS and loyalty to maximize your sales and ROI. When you integrate these, it means that all systems and applications will be sharing data. If you gleaned anything throughout this article so far, it should be that the more customer data, the better. And the deeper and more detailed the data insights, the better you can leverage customer information into successful sales. Using a customer loyalty rewards program with your POS provides a greater opportunity for personalized marketing that your customers will appreciate. When customers can earn and redeem points by shopping at your store, they’ll be all the more likely to exclusively patronize your store.
Advantages of switching to a digital point-of-sale system also includes:
- • Manage inventory
- • Real-time reporting
- • Speedy checkouts
- • Sales tax and accounting made easy
- • Connect to ERP systems
If we’ve convinced you to switch to a POS system, you might be wondering if you should go with software that is on-premises or in the cloud. When considering these two, on-premises vs. cloud-based—and the differences between them—the most important factor to remember is that flexibility and easy integration are key. But let’s take a closer look.
No matter what digital POS system you go with, the system will be comprised of both software and hardware components that are designed to make your daily operations faster and easier. While the hardware components tend to be uniform, let’s look at the software options and compare the benefits of an on-premise system versus a cloud-based one.
With an on-premise POS system, you will have to manually install the software on your computer system and purchase the correlating licenses. The cost in this area will depend on how many check-out registers you have inside your store. You will be responsible for updating and maintaining the software, and because of this, you may need to hire an IT specialist. Also, in order to fully implement your on-premise POS, you will of course have to purchase the hardware and depending on the supplier, this could be expensive.
Alternatively, a cloud-based POS system offers more flexibility in the areas we just listed to describe an on-premise system. Firstly, a cloud-based POS allows you to access the software from the internet, and for this reason, you will be able to view the software and your system on any device. Rather than having to manually prompt the software to update—and make sure it updates correctly—with a cloud-based system these updated are automatically “pushed” to the POS. You will not have to remember to initiate updates because the system will handle that for you. Instead of hiring an IT specialist to oversee the technical functioning of your system, the cloud POS only requires one or two individuals to manage it. This means that you can remain in full control, which will save you time and money. Best of all, cloud-based POS systems typically have lower upfront costs.
If you couldn’t tell, we strongly recommend a cloud-based POS system, but there could be reasons why you might prefer an on-premise system for your retail store.
As we mentioned, the hardware components will be the same whether you go with an on-premise or cloud-based system, but let’s take a look at the list of these physical components in case you’re reading this article as research before implementing a digital POS system at your store. The following devices are all you will need to get any POS system up and running:
- • Monitors and / or tablets—these are the cash registers that your sales team will work on, which display products and services, and include other functions, including employee clock-in, sales reports, and the list of items or services your customers buy.
- • Barcode scanner—this device automates the checkout process by scanning product barcodes to queue purchases that are being bought. As items are sold, they get detracted from your inventory, and so your barcode scanner is integrated with your inventory management system.
- • Credit card reader—This device allows you to process credit and debit card payments, but be sure that your card reader is in compliance with the EMV payment standards that went into effect in 2015.
- • Receipt printer—this device comes with a roll of paper and ink to print out physical receipts for your customers, though they may decline and instead choose their receipts to be either emailed or texted to them. Even if that’s the case, your POS system will still need a receipt printer for that occasional customer who prefers a hard copy.
- • Cash drawer—yes, you still need cash drawers at your registers. Until cash becomes obsolete, and it may never, you will need a secure place to store cash for transactions.
There you have it! What’s the point of implementing a digital POS system at your retails store? There are too many to count, though we hope you agree that we at least scratched the surface throughout this article.
If you’re interested in using a digital POS system at your store, but aren’t sure which provider to go with, FasTrax POS is a trusted brand that offers both on-premise and cloud-based POS systems, and the best aspect is that you can begin with on-premise and switch later to cloud-based without losing data or causing headaches. Plus, FasTrax POS comes with all of the marketing strategies that we went over in this article, including leveraging customer data to run successful promotions, implementing pop-up scripts at the registers, and integrating a customer loyalty rewards program to maximize ROI.
Also, FasTrax POS has a dedicated technical support team ready to assist your point-of-sale needs. To learn more or speak with a FasTrax strategist, click here to see what our POS can do for your retail store.