Every retail business experiences some seasonal swings in sales, whether post-holiday doldrums or summertime sales spurts. For some retailers, however, seasons define the business, such as gift shops at popular tourist attractions, lawn care services, and vacation cottages. These businesses have unique needs for tracking cash flow, managing employees, and attracting and retaining customers.
A POS system for a seasonal business has to accommodate these and other unique requirements of on-again/off-again business cycles. Whether the company scales back operations during the offseason or shuts down completely, it has to plan for wild fluctuations in sales even during its peak season.
Savvy seasonal retailers have learned how to take advantage of the ups and downs of business by offering customers incentives and promotions centered on seasonal products, whether it’s steep discounts during off peaks or upsell offers during the high season. A POS system can help these businesses capitalize on seasonal fluctuations throughout the year.
Cash Flow Management for Seasonal Businesses
Anticipating cash flow is both more important and more challenging for seasonal businesses. A POS system can help simplify seasonal cash management by managing inventory in a way that guarantees the store’s best-selling products will be in stock when demand for them is highest. Just as important, the system provides insights via sales analysis that allows a seasonal business to forecast more accurately the optimal inventory levels for products throughout the year. This allows the store to capitalize on trends without being stuck with piles of inventory collecting dust or in the case of perishables, going bad before they can be sold.
A key advantage of cloud-based POS systems for seasonal businesses is their ability to replace the paper ledgers and spreadsheets commonly used to track sales with advanced sales reporting and analytics features. Businesses gain deeper insight into the effectiveness of their operations and marketing efforts, which helps them set goals and plan for high and low times.
Another advantage of POS systems for seasonal retailers is a reduction in the business’ reliance on cash transactions. In addition to customers’ growing preference for cashless payment options, cash transactions are prone to errors.
Preparing to Maximize Profits During Peak Sales Seasons
Even year-round businesses report a large portion of their annual sales in the last quarter, and specifically in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Anything that hinders operations during this busy time threatens to negatively affect the health of the business.
To best prepare for this critical end-of-year period, businesses should look to take advantage of the features in a modern POS system. Using POS data, retailers can identify the items likely to be in greatest demand. When consumers make a purchase, the system will ensure the transaction is completed quickly and accurately. Plus, the systems can even be set to adjust the price of certain products automatically to offer returning customers discounts based on their purchase histories.
Many holiday shoppers will be visiting stores for the first time. In order to convert them into repeat customers, it’s imperative that their personal information is gathered, like their names, email addresses, and telephone numbers. The information can then be used to maintain communications with them and alert them to special offers. POS systems also make it easy to create branded gift cards that are both convenient for shoppers and an effective marketing tool for retailers.
How POS Systems for Seasonal Businesses Augment Marketing Efforts
It’s common for seasonal businesses to feel overshadowed by the nonstop rotation of advertisements promoting the offerings of big-box retailers. However, the most effective marketing approaches are often the simplest and most personal. The customer management features built into today’s POS systems make it possible for small seasonal businesses to establish close one-to-one relationships with their clientele.
One of the most effective marketing tools for seasonal businesses is social media. POS systems are able to leverage a store’s online presence to alert customers of sales, promotions, and special offers in a way that’s more effective and personalized than mass media ads. In addition to promoting the store’s loyalty program, social media marketing can attract new customers by offering existing ones buy-one-get-one-free discounts when they bring a friend with them to the store, for example.
The advantages available via a POS system aren’t limited to retail stores, however. Businesses such as spas, restaurants, hair salons, and fitness centers also experience spikes in business around the holiday season and troughs other times of the year. These operations can take advantage of gift cards, vouchers, and other promotions to bring existing customers back and attract new ones.
Overcoming Employee-Management Challenges Unique to Seasonal Businesses
Attracting and retaining qualified employees takes on greater significance for seasonal businesses. Offering competitive wages and providing a positive work environment are the two most important aspects of employee retention for all businesses, but seasonal operations have to go beyond these steps. POS systems help keep employees in the loop by making it easy for them to stay informed about seasonal shifts and maintain a connection to the business even when they’re not working.
Because employee turnover happens more frequently with most seasonal businesses, a POS system that makes it easy to train new workers can be a great way for these businesses to boost their bottom lines. The system should offer simple ways to set and change user permissions, give employees anywhere/anytime access to work schedules, and allow them to access information about repeat customers, such as their purchase history and preferences.
Whether it’s a stall at a local farmer’s market, a food truck operating at a county fair, or a tourist gift shop in one of Maine’s quaint tourist towns, a seasonal operation has much to gain by adopting an affordable, intuitive, and full-featured POS system to help manage finances, attract customers, and meet the needs of employees. Once you take a look at the benefits of a cloud-based POS system, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.
Want to learn more about POS for your seasonal business?