J Crew, Niemen Marcus, JCPenney, Pier 1 Imports—the list of retailers that have filed for bankruptcy protection in response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow. However, amid the devastation that the nationwide shutdown has caused to retailers large and small, there has been a glimmer of a silver lining: curbside pickup is booming.
There’s nothing new about retailers offering their customers in-store pickup of merchandise they purchased online. However, now that customers are unable to shop inside nonessential retail stores, many are taking advantage of curbside pickup for the first time.
Among the obstacles retailers face in providing store pickup are ensuring the ordered items are in stock and finding a point of sale system that is capable of processing for store pickup.
POS Features that Support Processing for Store Pickup
A POS system that supports online orders and store pickup must have three features:
- Mobility: If customers are unable to enter the store to confirm their order pickup, the store must come to the customers in the form of an app running on a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device. The app should make it easy for customers to shop online, place and change orders, and interact with the store in other ways.
- Integration of inventory and sales data: Tracking online orders can wreak havoc on a retailer’s inventory management. An important component of taking online orders is syncing online sales with inventory. Converting stock lists to digital formats must consider how the information will be presented in customer-facing apps. To ensure accurate bookkeeping, item numbers must be matched seamlessly to the right products.
- Shifting staff responsibilities: Retail employees will be taking on new tasks as stores adapt to store pickups, so the retailer’s POS system has to make it easy to track workers as they take on new roles. This can be especially challenging for restaurants that find themselves implementing entirely new work processes as they adjust to online ordering.
Reimagining the Retail Experience — By Necessity
Small and midsize retailers who rely on foot traffic and in-store sales are reinventing themselves to accommodate online orders. They may be tempted to take a piecemeal approach to the transition, but their success in the short term and long term depends on having a comprehensive strategy that smoothly integrates all their business processes, which include:
- A branded website
- Integrated order management and payment options
- Automatic notifications
- Customer relationship management
- Click and collect for picking up merchandise at the store
The online ordering process must have the ability to control which products are available and the times during which customers can retrieve their purchases. It must also have the ability to combine a customer’s online activity with in-store orders and demographic data to allow promotions and discounts to be targeted and personalized.
Another important function for online ordering and store pickup is the ability to communicate with customers to provide them with updates about the products they have purchased, changes to operating hours, or notice of special offers and loyalty programs.
Shortcuts to Online Ordering Can Cause Long Delays
It’s no wonder retailers feel the need to act quickly. Very few businesses anticipated an event such as the COVID-19 pandemic causing their revenue to evaporate nearly overnight. It’s important to get online ordering in place quickly, but it’s even more important to implement a system that runs smoothly and is a natural fit for the business. The last thing your staff and your customers need is the stress of a buggy, balky ordering system.
As with many projects, the first step in setting up a POS system with processing for store pickup is to tap the knowledge of an expert. A POS software consultant can explain how to ensure the system matches your business’s needs, and how to avoid common mistakes. Once you have a strategic plan in place, you’re ready to move onto the next steps in the process:
- Choose an online interface that represents your brand and mirrors your store’s atmosphere. Customers appreciate an interface that is fresh, simple, and inviting.
- Make sure your POS system is well integrated with the website and mobile app so changes to the online content can be made via the POS system directly.
- Consider how online order processing can enhance operations in the physical world by automating some aspects of order tracking, fulfillment, and deliveries.
The Right Time to Rethink Your Overall Business Strategy
Times of challenge are also times of opportunity. One way businesses can improve their cash flow is by making their operations more efficient. Implementing a POS system with processing for store pickup gives retailers a chance to look for ways to streamline their business processes.
Start by conducting a technical assessment of your current systems to identify functions that are working well and those that are inefficient, duplicated, or otherwise unnecessary. Next, consider how your current and future needs will change your existing business model. Identify the most critical functions for your business and the most cost-efficient and effective way to support them.
Success in retail depends on meeting the needs of customers. What your customers need right now is a way to shop safely. A POS system that integrates online ordering and processing for store pickup is the most effective way to maintain relationships with current customers and attract new ones in these unusual and uncertain times.
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