One of the greatest challenges facing retailers is the need to keep pace with changing technology or risk being left behind by the competition. At the same time, resistance to change is part of our nature. Fortunately, reconciling these two opposing forces — the need to change and desire to keep things as they are — is often easier than you might think, especially if you have enough point of sale experience.
It all boils down to simplicity.
When it comes to point of sale systems, the perception is that using them is anything but simple. In fact, the original POS systems from several decades ago were so complicated for employees to use that implementing them entailed extensive (and expensive) worker training. Point of sale experience soon became a prized attribute in potential retail employees.
Fast-forward to 2020 and a retail environment that changes so quickly employers lack the time and resources to spend training workers to use systems that may be obsolete before they’re paid for. What they need are POS systems that are as simple to use as a smartphone app and as mobile as a tablet while simultaneously delivering a full complement of POS features, including advanced customer relations, order, and inventory tracking, and employee management.
How Point of Sale Experience Differs from Typical Applications
The primary reason why POS systems are more difficult to use than other business apps is a matter of focus. When people use a spreadsheet, word processor, email, or other standard apps, they can usually turn their full attention to whatever is happening inside the application itself, apart from some external distractions. However, when an employee is using a POS system, they must focus primarily on the customer they’re serving rather than on the software they’re using to complete the transaction.
As a result, the software may serve as a distraction to the employee’s primary goal of keeping the customer happy. The need to complete the sales transaction successfully is important, but it can’t be the employee’s sole focus because that would risk making the customer feel unimportant. That’s why the POS system must be designed with the entire context of the retail transaction kept in mind.
Modern POS systems emphasize completing the sales transaction quickly by anticipating any “unusual circumstances” that could cause a delay. If the POS interface allows employees to complete the many individual steps entailed in the transaction just one second faster, the impact on the store’s overall performance can be substantial. When employees encounter exceptional transactions where the standard steps don’t apply, the POS designer’s goal is to anticipate these extra steps so the transactions can be reduced from several minutes to several seconds.
Features of an Easy-to-Use Point of Sale System
Much of the time wasted in using a POS system is due to employees struggling to find the on-screen options they need. While the act of scanning a product’s barcode is straightforward, additional steps are often required, such as searching for products by name or by some characteristic. Employees may also need to apply a discount, refer to a previous transaction, or indicate that the customer qualifies for a loyalty reward.
When retail employees have to navigate through a series of menus or search for a product or feature by name, the transaction quickly grinds to a halt and the employees’ focus switches from the customer to the POS system. Order management can be simplified by using a POS system that allows employees to search for items in product lists that can contain thousands of distinct entries. Similarly, atypical transactions, such as product returns and refunds, can be sped up by using a POS system that supports full or partial returns, with or without a receipt, and that lets customers exchange items for any value and receive a refund of the difference in price.
To prevent employees from having to deal with information overload, the POS interface has to be kept simple and intuitive so in any given situation workers are presented with the options they’re most likely to need first. Considering that many cashiers are part-time workers with little experience working in retail, providing them with an easy-to-use POS system is one of the most effective ways to boost their productivity and keep them focused on meeting the needs of the customer.
Why Interface Design Is Critical to the Point of Sale Experience
When you consider the high number of transactions processed each day in a typical store or restaurant, the ability to shave a few microseconds from each one quickly adds up to a measurable boost in productivity and profitability. Any minor interface glitch in the POS system will quickly add up to thousands of lost seconds — and frustrated customers — every day.
For example, POS designers may be inclined to go overboard on buttons and other visuals, believing that for every option or feature in the system, a button will be added. Research has shown that retail employees don’t think in terms of options, they think in terms of interactions that mirror the way they work. The POS system has to be able to establish employee roles so that job functions and permissions can be designated across multiple locations. This allows an employee to move seamlessly between duties, such as from server to bartender to host to manager in a restaurant setting, for example.
The best user interfaces are invisible: they are so easy and intuitive that using the system comes naturally. Not only does this reduce the time retailers must spend training employees, but it also makes the operation more efficient and, most importantly, keeps customers happy. Whether your business is brand new or a neighborhood landmark, improving the point of sale experience will translate directly into more productive employees, more profitable operations, and more contented customers.
Learn more about how the talech POS system helps retailers improve the shopping experience for their customers and optimize the management of all their vital business processes. We work with you to determine the best ways to meet the needs of your customers and employees so your business can thrive. We take the time to learn your business so we can balance your specific needs with your budget and comfort level in a custom POS system implementation. The result is a valued investment that will pay for itself in short order. Reach out to us today to sign up for a free demo and learn more about how talech can be your valued partner in the POS world.