The holiday season is approaching, and the growth in online retail shows no signs of abating:
- Retail ecommerce sales in the U.S. will increase by 13.7% in 2021 to a total value of about $909 billion, according to Insider Intelligence.
- The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that ecommerce sales accounted for 13.3% of all retail sales in the second quarter of 2021.
- Figures compiled by eMarketer indicate that ecommerce sales will represent 23.6% of all retail sales by 2025, up from 11% of all retail sales in 2019.
Retailers are updating their point of sale (POS) systems and adjusting their sales strategies during the holiday seasons to tap into their customers’ increasing preference for online shopping. Customers everywhere seem to perk up when businesses adjust their products to fit the holiday spirit. But this has left many store owners pondering the question, What is the best POS software for retail?
What are the main functions a retail POS needs?
Before asking what the best POS system is, it’s critical to match your business’s unique needs with the changes in the way your customers interact with your store, online and in person. These are the five core functions of a modern POS solution:
- Sales reporting and analytics.
- Customer relationship management.
- Inventory management.
- Accounting, including payroll and taxes.
- Ecommerce, including an online store and custom mobile app.
Now consider the ways your customers are shopping today:
- “Shopping at the edge” has retailers using live chat, live streaming, and social shopping to reach their customers.
- “Social commerce” is growing as consumers buy more products directly on social media.
- Retailers are connecting with customers via the “last mile,” where the digital and real worlds meet via curbside pickup and other click-and-collect methods.
- Customers now expect higher levels of personalization while shopping online and in person.
- Customer loyalty will be more important than ever as consumers increasingly value the connections they establish with brands and stores.
When it comes to the exciting time of year where there is a lot of cheer and anticipation of the big holidays, retail sales skyrockets. From decorations on Halloween to gift shopping for Christmas or Hanukkah, your strategies shift and maintaining systems can get overwhelming. It’s the perfect time to streamline your business processes and ensure the influx in traffic is accommodated.
Here’s a look at how key POS software features deliver the online shopping experience that retail customers have come to expect.
Track metrics on your customers and the success of your business
Every business tracks its sales figures, but not all businesses take advantage of the key insights that are available from the sales analytics features in modern cloud-based POS software. As retailers navigate the formidable changes that have rocked the industry, anticipating market trends and customer preferences becomes more important than ever.
Several sales metrics are geared specifically to understanding customer value and behavior:
- Customer lifetime value lets retailers know how much each of their new and existing customers are worth to their business. To find it, multiply the average annual revenue per customer by the number of years the person has been your customer, then subtract the cost of the marketing and promotions that were used to bring the customer to the store.
- Sales per unique customer monitors changing customer behavior by determining the total amount a customer spends at the store in a year. This helps stores measure their profitability and profit margin.
- Retail profit per transaction measures the profitability of each transaction by calculating all profit that isn’t due to ancillary services. This includes fulfillment costs but not overhead and back-office expenses.
Every piece of information your business can track is invaluable, and it all leads to building visibility into your business’s success. Knowing what customers want and need, noting where your business needs improvement, and getting a defined picture of your profitability will help you adjust your strategies — in general and seasonally — as needed to drive sales and satisfaction.
How to prepare your business for increased traffic and sales
As mentioned, the best way to know what will keep your customers happy is by getting to know what they like and dislike. There never seems to be many dislikes with holiday purchases, so take advantage and gain the competitive edge.
The customer relationship management features in your store’s POS software make it simple to collect information about your customers that can be used to enhance their interactions with your business, leading to increased traffic and sales.
- Customers increasingly expect the store to come to them, whether through its branded website, custom mobile app, or mobile POS devices in the store or other locations. The use of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices running the store’s POS software empowers customers by putting more up-to-date information in their hands. Maintaining accurate information at all times boosts the likelihood that customers remain engaged in your products and services.
- Customers expect a range of payment options for their online purchases, including digital wallets, credit and debit cards, and gift cards. When the sales process is simple and convenient, it boosts customer satisfaction. If the process is complicated or lengthy, it drives customers away simply because they get frustrated about ‘wasting’ time. No one wants to work to make purchases, so keep things effortless.
- Customers respond positively to personalized offers, such as discounts and suggestions based on their past purchases, as well as unique offers that reflect the current holiday season. With the right POS system, you can create a fun, interactive loyalty program to reward them.
Personalized interaction between a brand and its customers builds a trustworthy connection. As your traffic increases, your systems must be ready to cater to individuals. Managing all this information manually is next to impossible, but a POS system helps you display a considerate business.
Monitor inventory to ensure the products that customers want are available
The days of “periodic” inventory counts are numbered. Today, stores need to maintain a “perpetual” inventory count by tapping the inventory management features of their POS software. Stock counts are adjusted automatically with each purchase recorded and shipment received. The information provided by the POS software goes beyond a simple count to include the time, place and price of each item sold, and details about the customer who purchased the product.
To prevent your store’s most popular items, both seasonal and annual, from running out of stock, the POS software issues alerts when levels of specific items reach preset thresholds. The programs can be set to place reorders automatically for certain products. Retailers save money because more efficient inventory reduces the amount of storage space they need. Stores can track their online and on-premises sales in real-time to get a clear picture of what’s selling and what’s not.
Integrate accounting functions with sales, inventory, and employee management
The accounting features available in modern POS software do more than simply link sales transactions to a retailer’s back-office system. One important accounting function that POS systems now support is invoicing, which ensures that your business receives payment for bills due in a timely manner. These are some of the features to look for in POS invoicing software:
- Generate an unlimited number of custom invoices.
- Accommodate recurring bills and automatically apply penalty fees when applicable.
- Securely maintain customer data and provide customers and store staff with secure access to their purchase histories.
- Accept payment using the payment methods that customers prefer.
- Integrate smoothly with all other business processes and POS operations.
Bring the in-store customer experience to the digital realm
Every aspect of a retailer’s online operation has the potential to give the store’s marketing efforts a boost. Word-of-mouth advertising gains a new dimension when customer reviews spread via social media and other online outlets. Creating an effective online presence can have a positive impact on the sales generated by your digital platforms and brick-and-mortar stores, especially when your business shows that holiday cheer.
Your POS system serves as the foundation for your entire operation, providing a dashboard view of all your sales channels, employee schedules, inventory and order tracking, and accounting. The goal is to find POS software that meets your business’s needs, fits your budget and scales as your business grows. The team at talech helps you to determine the best POS software for your business. Get a first-hand look at talech’s features by signing up for a free demo.
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