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Point of sale (POS) software is a key requirement for all sorts of brick-and-mortar retailers, be it a general retail store, restaurant, or greengrocers. It allows retailers to accept and process payments as well as sync, track, and manage other aspects of the business such as employee staffing, inventory management, sales, and purchase management.
POS software is generally purchased with compatible hardware and accessories such as a monitor screen, cash register, barcode scanner, receipt printer, and card readers. This entire ecosystem is usually installed near a retail store's check-in or check-out area.
The benefits of POS software
These days, the increasing complexities of running a business means that you can't rely on just the traditional operation and execution practices. You need advanced tools to stay competitive among newer and bigger businesses. A well-implemented POS system will help you achieve this. Listed below are some of the benefits of installing a POS system at your retail store:
- Faster delivery of operations: A retailer has to manage multiple operations such as purchasing materials, dispatching goods, daily staffing, managing appointments, and processing payments. Traditionally, you needed multiple registers and numerous staff to enter all these details in respective files. But now, retailers can record all the information in a single POS system and save time. They are also able to better staff their employees, accurately bill customers for purchases, and execute check-out faster.
- Efficient inventory management: The current POS systems can easily handle multiple stock inventories for multiple stores. This allows businesses to be aware of the available stock and they can set reordering alerts so that they never run out of stock. Modern POS systems are even capable of analysing purchase history and providing recommendations for the next purchase.
- Exhaustive business reporting: Keeping track of sales, revenue, and profits is quite a tedious task, especially when you're recording transactions on paper or spreadsheets. A POS system records all transactions in a defined or customised template. This helps retailers identify their over- and underselling items, based on which, they can strategise their marketing efforts to boost sales.
Typical features of POS software
- Inventory management: Supervise the process of ordering, storing, and tracking your stocks to ensure smooth and uninterrupted supply.
- Payment processing: Accept, verify, and process customer payments made via various channels including cash, cheque, digital wallets, and cards.
- Sales tracking: Track and monitor the quantity of stock sold over a period of time and capture the performance of your sales team.
- Discount management: Work with different types of promo codes and reward programmes to offer certain discounts to customers and boost your sales.
- Barcode scanning: Scan products using their barcodes and/or similar tags and track the in and out movement of items from the shop.
- Electronic signature (also known as e-signature): Sign documents digitally within the system to save time and paper.
Considerations when purchasing POS software
- Expectations from the POS: These solutions are offered at varying price ranges. It's easier to select a solution if you know your requirements in terms of features, functions, budget, and services. Buyers should consider the requirements of their staff and customers. It would be also advisable to anticipate your future needs, so that you can check whether the shortlisted vendor offers those features or not.
- Software usability: The high employee turnover in the industry in one reason why you need to ensure that the POS software is easy to learn and use for all your staff. Ease of usability allows new and existing employees to use the POS soon after training. This makes it essential to test the usability and learning curve of a solution, which can be done through free trials and demos.
- Total cost of ownership: The cost of implementing the POS can vary from a few hundred to thousands of pounds. This depends on the deployment option, number of accessories, and payment plan you choose. Some vendors charge a high upfront fee for compatible accessories, while others ask for a recurring fee. Most POS software are compatible only with their own hardware, which means you'll have to consider all the costs—fixed and hidden—before making any purchases.
Relevant POS software trends
- Mobile payments and tablet POS on the rise: Customers are increasingly paying via mobile wallets instead of cash or card. The transaction value of the next-gen payment technology market is expected to grow from USD 4.2 billion in 2018 to USD 14 billion by 2022. This is pushing vendors to add wallet transaction capabilities to their systems. Vendors are now running POS software on tablets and iPads instead of bulky cash registers. Instead of customers coming to the POS, the POS goes to customers now.
- POS systems get the AI upgrade: We know that better data and analytics result in better business decisions. These days, POS systems are becoming intelligent as software enabled with artificial intelligence (AI) can capture data points about customers, sales, modes of payment, stock reordering speed, etc. This provides vital insights into what customers are buying and buying frequency. It can help retailers plan their purchases, segment customers, and make smarter marketing decisions. AI also enables POS systems to highlight any fraudulent transactions.