Much of a small retailer’s success depends on how efficiently its inventory is managed. The advanced inventory-management functions that large enterprises have benefited from for years are now available to the smallest of businesses via affordable barcode inventory software. In particular, modern cloud-based POS systems deliver the inventory-management features small businesses need at a budget-friendly price.
Integrating barcode inventory management with POS features delivers benefits that a standalone inventory solution doesn’t offer. For example, the POS system collects and analyzes data from all parts of the retailer’s operations, allowing sales and inventory figures to be balanced automatically. The systems also help reduce product leakage and enhance the efficiency of your inventory by predicting the products your customers will be shopping for.
Benefits of Barcode Inventory Software
The best way to convert first-time customers into repeat customers is by having the products they want on hand, and by completing their sales transactions quickly and accurately. Barcode scanners linked to a POS system check both boxes by providing retailers with accurate inventory counts and automatic alerts when popular items drop below preset minimum levels. These barcode scanners also give you the ability to:
- Adjust product prices without having to retag items manually.
- Gather useful information about your customers, including their preferences based on their purchase histories.
- Perform stock takes to verify the accuracy of automated inventory figures. Stores can double-check all inventory items or select items to scan individually.
- Embed key information into the barcodes, including the product’s weight, SKU/PLU, quantity, and price.
- Print customized barcodes, which you can choose to be just the barcode, or add a name, price, or item number.
The upheaval in the retail industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was expected to cause substantial inventory overstocks. However, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported that U.S. retail sales increased in May, June, and July of 2020 (when compared to the same months in 2019) following the sharp declines recorded in March and April of 2020.
Most of the increase was attributed to jumps in eCommerce sales. One report stated that online spending reached $82.5 billion in May 2020, a 77% increase from the previous year. NRF notes that retailers are moving their inventory, but at much lower prices than expected prior to the retail-industry shutdown in the spring of 2020.
One way retailers are able to minimize the losses resulting from recent closures is by finding innovative uses for their barcode inventory software. The systems help small retailers keep track of physical assets like office equipment and storeroom fixtures, for example, and their real-time inventory reports allow stores to respond quickly to potential product shrinkage and employee theft.
Most POS barcode software uses a wand-type scanner that fits in the user’s hand and connects to the POS system via a cable. The wand flashes a red LED light that reflects off the barcode pattern onto a light-sensitive charge-coupled device (CCD) or photoelectric cells. An alternative is a POS system that has a laser scanner embedded under a pane of glass at the checkout counter, or that includes a small video camera to capture the barcode, similar to the camera on a smartphone.
Features to Look for in Barcode Inventory Software
Mobile POS systems come equipped with printers for creating different size barcode labels that attach to products. Barcode inventory software reads the label to display information about the item, including size, shape, color, model number, and manufacturer in addition to its price. The label may also indicate the product’s warranty information, department, category, and quantity.
Modern barcode software should include features that let retailers determine the price, quantity, and cost of many variations of individual products. This allows shops to offer custom items and price discounts at the time of the sale based on the customer’s purchase history, current stock levels, and other variables. Advanced features include the ability to bundle products on the fly, apply discounts on specific dates, and keep tabs on product levels across multiple locations.
Tips for Implementing POS Barcode Inventory Software
Tracking sales and expenditures is key to knowing how well your business is doing. Barcode inventory software automates the process of tracking products from purchase to sale and makes the information accessible from any smartphone or tablet. Every product receives a custom barcode sticker that lets stores know whether it’s stored in the back, on a display shelf, or already sold and out the door. Barcode software allows you to:
- Keep an up-to-date tally of the store’s total inventory, helping to spot best-selling items and slow movers in need of promotion.
- Gain insight into product trends over time via monthly and seasonal comparisons.
- Reduce overstocking by spotting trends and reacting to them quickly when making purchase plans.
- Automate stocktakes—that previously required hours of manual labor—to be available within seconds. This lets stores generate an on-demand list of products on order, sold, and in stock.
- Identify opportunities to bundle products and offer customers other promotions based on their past purchases; doing so can boost sales of slow-moving items by pairing them with more popular products.
- Spot trends and seasonality in purchase patterns to help make product orders more efficient.
- Plan staffing needs and reduce expenses using generated forecasts.
- Improve the presentation of products by avoiding hand-written changes to prices or promotions.
Any retailer with more than a handful of products will benefit from the use of an affordable cloud-based POS system with integrated barcode inventory software. The systems provide the store with a real-time view of its sales and inventory from any mobile device. Running an efficient operation has never been more important to businesses of all sizes, and pay-as-you-go technologies such as cloud-based POS systems ensure your store is making optimal use of its resources.
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