POS systems have become the digital foundation for retailers of all types and sizes, handling nearly all of a store’s operations, from inventory management to marketing. However, as POS functionality expands, retailers shopping for a POS system can be overwhelmed by the abundance of features they have to sort through.
Selecting a POS system that includes more functions than a retail business needs is just as problematic as choosing one that lacks necessary features. These are the 10 capabilities of modern retail point of sale and inventory management software that provide the greatest benefit to retailers.
Identifying the Top Retail Point of Sale and Inventory Management Software Features
Here are the features and capabilities to always be aware of when you assess POS systems for your business:
1. Sales Reporting and Analytics
Data analytics isn’t just for the Fortune 500. In fact, because small and medium-sized businesses operate on such razor-thin margins, sales reporting and analytics are more critical to these companies than to their larger counterparts.
The reports generated by a retail POS system let stores view their sales data in real-time, get a complete view of all cash drawer activity, measure the sales performance of employees, and gain insight into the impact of labor costs on the business’s finances.
2. Customer Relationship Management
Retailers rely on returning customers, so a POS system for retail has to be able to collect data about the store’s customers, including their purchase history, their favorite brands, and their preferred method of making purchases. The goal of customer relationship management is to build loyalty and encourage positive word-of-mouth marketing.
These are key customer-centered features of a retail POS system:
- Issue store credits and maintain customer balances on house accounts.
- Print, sell, track, and activate gift cards that are customized to your brand.
- Offer loyalty programs that automatically calculate and apply discounts and special offers when specific thresholds are met.
3. Barcode Readers and Label Printers
Many retailers may consider a POS system with a barcode scanner unnecessary for their operations, but they may not realize the many ways barcode readers help streamline and enhance their business processes. For example, customers benefit by having faster checkouts. The scanners also eliminate the need to retag items manually when prices change, and they link transactions to inventory automatically.
By adding a label printer, retailers are able to create their own tags for equipment as well as for products. The devices can be used to print linear barcodes or QR codes in various sizes and shapes. Bluetooth connectivity allows the printers to link easily to POS terminals and mobile devices.
4. Real-Time Inventory Tracking
Retailers understand the importance of maintaining optimal inventory levels; running out of stock can alienate customers, yet having too much inventory can eat into profits unnecessarily. Recent improvements in retail point of sale and inventory management software make it easy for stores to ensure an adequate supply of merchandise while minimizing overstocks and product shrinkage.
Vital features of POS inventory management include real-time inventory tracking, the ability to create custom product variations and combinations, and barcode printing to improve accuracy and reduce the time required for employees to sort, stock, and restock items.
5. Support for Product Variations and Bundling Groups of Items
Cash registers have morphed into dashboards that give retailers and their customers more options and greater insight into the store’s offerings. An important function at the point of sale is the ability to provide sales staff and customers with complete catalog information about available variations in colors, sizes, and styles.
In addition to placing items on hold or ordering new stock, interactive POS displays make it easy to create custom bundles of related items and accessories. This capability also enhances the store’s marketing and promotion efforts by identifying the most popular combinations of products.
6. Variable Pricing and Custom Item Pricing at Point of Purchase
One of the best ways for retailers to encourage return business is by offering promotions such as buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO) and discounts that are triggered automatically based on the time of day, day of the week, or other option. A retail POS system should make it easy to create promotional discounts when customers buy two or more of a product, purchase certain products together, or take advantage of “friends and family” discounts.
7. Mobile POS Devices
Retail customers rely increasingly on their smartphones and mobile devices to pay for products, but also to research products while they’re in the store. It follows that retailers need to provide customers with the mobile services they have come to expect. These include a mobile POS app that runs on a range of smartphones and tablets, smooth and secure cloud connectivity, and the ability to operate in offline mode when out of range of a network link.
An important consideration when implementing mobile POS for retail is the mobile business payment system it will use. Data from mobile transactions should be seamlessly integrated with the system’s sales, inventory, and other data to ensure the accuracy of the business’s records. Mobile POS allows staff to engage with customers on the shop floor to confirm inventory, identify substitute or alternative products, and arrange for product deliveries.
8. Flexible Payment Types
One of the fastest ways to lose a customer is by making checkout more difficult than it needs to be. That’s why retail POS systems have to support a range of payment options, including contactless and other mobile payment technologies, gift cards, and store credits. The system should also allow products to be placed on hold via partial payments, and make it fast and simple to return products for refunds or store credits.
9. Omnichannel POS to Link Online and Brick-and-Mortar Operations
Retailers reeling from the effects of COVID-19 shutdowns are finding a lifeline in the 7. Retail POS systems must allow customers to purchase items on the store’s site and arrange to pick them up at the store. POS systems now feature customizable, branded websites with integrated payment options, fluid order management, automatic notifications, and a click-and-collect option for local customers.
10. Employee Scheduling, Roles, and Performance Management
Another way retail POS systems enhance a business’s profitability is by reducing the time and effort required to manage employee schedules, determine their roles, and monitor their performance. In the course of a single work shift, retail employees are likely to take on several different roles as they move from task to task. A retail POS system should make it easy to shift between roles and to create custom permissions to control access to sensitive information.
Knowing which employees are most productive is only the beginning of performance monitoring. Reports generated by the POS system should also provide insight into the reasons why, such as their revenue per transaction and how specific labor costs impact the business’s bottom line.
Putting the POS Pieces Together
Identifying the must-have functions for a retail POS system is just the start of the process. It’s just as important to combine the features into a singular whole that meets the needs of customers, employees, and managers. The top priority when shopping for a retail POS system is to find a vendor who works with you to craft a solution that is as unique as your business.
When you partner with talech for your retail point of sale and inventory management software, we devote our time to identify your business challenges. We use this information to provide you with an innovative POS solution that levels the playing field. Reach out to us today to sign up for a demo and to learn more about how talech can be your valued POS partner.