If you’re a small business owner operating a retail store, you already have a point of sale system in place. This system, in its most basic form, is how you collect and record payments for the items and services you sell. Once upon a time, store owners simply collected cash payments from their customers and used a box to store that cash. As industries evolved, point of sale systems evolved, too. Record keeping became more detailed. And today, the average point of sale system has been digitized and exists within a networked computer system.   

How advanced is your point of sale system? If your retail store is in its earliest stages or within the first few years of operation, your POS system could still be remarkably simplistic. Or perhaps you’ve invested in digital technology, but haven’t fully implemented all of the bells and whistles to get the most out of your POS system. If you’re like a lot of small business owners, you might be using a cash box plus tablets at your registers to process credit and debit card purchases via an online app. Your system is certainly functioning if this is the case, but is it thriving? Is your POS system being used as the greatest tool in your store to grow your business?

Did you know it could be?

There are many digital POS systems available on the market today, and upgrading to an advanced system could take your business to the next level. Why? The leading POS systems out there offer the latest technologies to fully handle tracking your sales, inventory, customer habits, and customer loyalty. Additionally, these systems serve as the hub that manages your in-store promotions and prompts your sales staff to alert customers to deals, discounts, and incentives that will ultimately increase your store revenue if acted upon.

In this article, we will go over the specific features and functions to look out for if you’re considering upgrading your POS system. So, without further ado, here is our concise list of what to look for in a POS system.  

INVENTORY MANAGEMENT

An inventory tracking system will be front and center within an advanced POS system that has adequate technology in place. Once the starting quantities of your wholesale goods are accurately entered into the system, your POS will deduct items as they’re sold. You can set your reorder levels and the POS system will promptly alert you when the threshold is crossed. In this sense, all of your inventory will be automated, leaving only spoilage and theft for you to monitor. An advanced POS system can even automatically reorder for you, if you set up your vendors properly with the necessary contact information. Keeping track of your stock and avoiding over-purchasing will be easy, which can save you time in the long run. Because your inventory will be closely tracked, you will be able to view comprehensive inventory reports with the click of a button and managing your business operations, COGS, expenses, and spoilage will be state-of-the-art. 

TRACKING SALES

Tracking sales is the primary purpose of any POS system, but nowadays, tracking sales isn’t enough. The most important information associated with this function will connect specific customers with their purchasing history. Look for this crucial feature when deciding which digital POS system to buy or upgrade to. There’s nothing more valuable to a business owner than capturing the personalized sales histories of their customers. In order to record this information, however, your POS system must have an opt-in function for your customers to sign-up for your store’s loyalty program. Once they provide their basic details, such as their name, email address, telephone number, and perhaps their gender, the POS system will create a profile for that customer that you can use in the future when you implement targeted promotions. Collecting across-the-board demographic information will help you understand which items are popular with which customer groups. You can monitor your sales as they relate to customer groups as well as seasons, and track purchases, returns, customer preferences, and the success of your promotions. With tools like this in place, you will be able to make wiser business decisions that will directly support the growth of your business. 

TASK AUTOMATION

As a small business owner, it’s very likely that you’ve done your research in terms of year-end tax preparation. Accounting and bookkeeping software providers such as Quickbooks, Quicken, Peachtree, and others are probably familiar to you. And if you’ve been around the bend with your accountant, then you’ve likely already experienced the headaches that can come when your POS system doesn’t provide correct information for your year-end Profit & Loss Statement and Balance Sheet. Another critical feature to look for in a POS system is its automation and recording. With automated sales, purchase, and inventory reports, at any given time you will be able to see accurate quantities of your inventory assets, COGS, spoilage, and other financials that impact your Balance Sheet such as any sales tax or other sales related liabilities. A POS system that can tabulate this kind of information can relieve you of having to hire a bookkeeper. Depending on whether you pay sales tax monthly, quarterly, or annually, you may be empowered to either file these yourself or pass the task off to your accountant. The most important aspect to look for when investigating POS systems is this kind of task automation. Without this crucial feature, you might have to spend hours if not days tabulating your in-store quantities and also shuffling through mountains of merchant banking statements to tease out the figures that your accountant expects.

REWARDS PROGRAMS

As we touched upon briefly in the above section, Tracking Sales, being able to capture your customers’ order histories can greatly empower you to run targeted promotions that are successful. Expanding upon that feature, an advanced POS system should either come with, or be able to integrate with, a customer loyalty rewards program. If you are able to offer your customers an easy sign-up opportunity at the check-out register, then you will be in an excellent position to collect pertinent contact information and enable the system to begin tracking their shopping histories. Customers love deals and when they discover that their favorite items are available for a limited time at a discount, they will be more likely to take advantage of the sale. Offering a customer loyalty rewards program can keep you competitive with larger retailers and help to motivate customers to return to your store. A solid loyalty program that is integrated with your advanced POS system can increase your overalls sales, not only for promotional items, but for regularly priced goods as well. And with the customer information captured by the system, you will be in a strategic position to run targeted promotional campaigns that are successful.   

ADVERTISING AT THE POINT OF PURCHASE

It probably goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway… advertising works. If exposing consumers to advertisements wasn’t a highly effective way to directly and immediately increase sales, then no company on the face of the earth would invest in it. But companies do invest in advertising. For major corporations, their advertising budget is over 12% of their annual gross revenue—that’s their income before expenses. That’s a lot of money, and for the most part, spending that kind of money doesn’t go to waste. As a small business owner, we aren’t recommending that you invest 12% of your gross revenue on billboards and bus advertisements, but we are suggesting that you can implement small-scale, person-to-person advertising efforts during the point of sale transactions at your retail store. This is the final important feature to look for in a digital POS system—last minute advertising efforts while your customers have their wallets open at the counter. Some POS systems come with customer-facing screens that are meant to serve the primary purpose of collecting the shopper’s PIN number or signature at the point of sale. These screens, if your POS system has advertising capabilities, can also suggest additional add-on items to shoppers before they accept the sales total and pay. The shopper might not go for the deal right then and there, but the advertisement itself will stick in their mind, which will make them all the more likely to consider purchasing that item in the future. In addition to customer-facing screens that show ads, another advertisement method that comes integrated with an advanced POS system are pop-up scripts. Pop up scripts are pre-written text boxes that appear on the POS screens that your sales staff use. When your staff sees a pop-up script, they simply read it to the customer, which verbally alerts the customer to an extra deal, discount, or add-on item they might like to include. These text boxes are a highly effective sales tool for your employees and customers tend to appreciate the information, especially when they hadn’t realized that they could get a free item if only they purchase a few more goods.

At the end of the day, an advanced digital POS system that offers the latest technology and includes all five features that we went over in this article will strengthen your business, increase your sales, and keep you competitive with the larger retailers in your industry. Even if you’ve recently opened up shop and don’t see the immediate need for an advanced POS system, sooner or later your business will grow, and having these critical features in place from the start will help ensure that your operational and sales needs will be met at every stage.

FasTrax POS is a digital POS system with every advanced feature and function described in this article. If you would like to learn more about FasTrax and our digital POS technologies, click here to connect with a FasTrax strategist.