Consumers today are tech-savvy, sophisticated, and expect a certain experience when making any type of purchase. That’s why retailers are looking for new ways to create a seamless experience for shoppers from beginning to end – from awareness and discovery to evaluation and purchase.
A critical tool that retailers need to build a cohesive presence is a POS (Point of Sale) system, the hub of business operations for most retailers. In the simplest terms, a POS system is the location where your customer makes a purchase from your company. However, a modern POS system will empower your company beyond dollars and cents, and help you provide your customers with the best shopping experience.
In this guide to retail POS, we will walk you through POS options and best practices, and talk about how to transform your digital strategy with a modern point of sale solution.
A Guide to POS
The act of shopping is no longer siloed into either a physical or digital setting. Retailers must provide a seamless multi-channel shopping experience in both the brick and mortar stores and online – pricing, promotions, products, gift cards, order history, and more, must all be part of an integrated system
A recent blog from Software Advice outlined it best: “Modern POS systems do more than just offer flexibility when processing daily transactions. They improve a merchant’s chances of success by providing them with tools to streamline business processes.”
To optimize your business operations and give you actionable insight into all of your data, a retail POS system should have four fundamental features.
- Reporting and analytics: An advanced sales analytics system will give you robust data on every aspect of your sales, providing concrete figures to make informed business decisions.
- Inventory management: A fundamental tenet of any retailer’s digital transformation, keeping tabs on your merchandise electronically will improve sales, data accuracy, and marketing plans.
- Omnichannel management: Get full control and understanding of sales functions on all channels. This will also help you provide the option of online purchases and in-store pickups, a popular option for shoppers.
- Customer management: Track customer behavior, loyalty programs, and more to nurture positive customer relationships and keep tabs on your most valuable customers.
Retail POS Best Practices
There are countless POS solutions out there for the retail industry, with many different options and features available to your business. But regardless of the system you choose, there are a handful of best practices you should implement that will set you up for success.
It’s a Digital World
This cannot be emphasized enough; your POS system needs to be configured for the digital world. But get this: 64% of single-store retailers don’t have one in place.
The complex web of customers, data, suppliers, merchandise, omnichannel platforms, payment processors, and more, are all changing and updating with the speed that manual processes can’t match.
The speed, accessibility, and reliability afforded to your business with a POS system is required to compete in today’s retail industry. For all of the other components of your business to work as effectively as possible — ecommerce, mobile apps, the cloud, analytics — you need to implement a comprehensive POS solution.
Ecommerce is Essential
Ecommerce is an integral part of the shopping experience you offer, so your retail POS system needs to enhance the buying experience. Not only will it benefit your sales numbers, but it will also help you gather critical data about your customer base and their behaviors.
A robust POS system will help you with omnichannel sales management, streamlining the process not only for your customers, but for you as well. The retail POS system you choose should create a universal shopping experience for customers in brick and mortar stores, online ecommerce sites, mobile devices, and social channels.
A popular trend among shoppers and a vital tool for retailers is a frictionless POS option. Many shoppers like to buy online and pick up their items in the store, saving the hassle of navigating around other shoppers and busy lines. This ecommerce POS solution creates a seamless experience, saving the shopper valuable time.
Customers use multiple channels not only to purchase goods, but to research best prices and options. Centralizing all operations into one CRM and POS systems will give you a single view of your customers, their habits, and behaviors, regardless of where they make a purchase.
Consumers are shopping on mobile devices at a rapidly growing rate. Consider this: According to OuterBox, 62% of smartphone users made a purchase on their phone in the last 6 months, one-third of all ecommerce purchases during the 2015 holidays were made on a smartphone, and 80% of shoppers have used their mobile device inside a physical store to compare prices and make purchases.
Translation: You need a POS system that works on mobile devices. That includes mobile browsers, apps, and kiosks. Consumers who are held up in the checkout line — on a mobile device or self-service area — are unlikely to return to complete a purchase, so it is vital that the process is hiccup free.
Mobile POS systems are used in physical stores as well. Sales associates use mobile devices to access inventory data and even complete transactions with customers. When deploying a POS system, the customer experience and the touchpoints shoppers use should be at the forefront of your strategy.
Endless Options in the Cloud
All of the aforementioned best practices for a POS system are enhanced by a cloud-based platform. Retail POS on the cloud offers more speed, singular ecommerce setup, and scalability – all of which improve your operations and customer relationship management.
With the cloud, everything is also in real time, letting you operate your business and leverage your data anywhere, anytime. With a cloud retail POS platform, you can easily do the following:
- Get real-time reporting on sales, customers, promotions, marketing campaigns, revenue, and more.
- Manage marketing campaigns including item, shipping, and category promotions, as well as SEO data and sales targets.
- Manage merchandising such as up-sell product management and automated cross-sell.
How POS is Key to Your Digital Transformation Strategy
The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the way retailers do business. The interconnectedness of the retail industry means there is no down time, and you need systems in place to leverage any and all opportunities.
A POS solution for your business will empower you and your company with the data, technology, and processes you need to be successful. Your digital transformation strategy should look to accomplish the following:
- Engage customers: Consumers are in the driver’s seat. With more options than ever before and a desire for immediate service, customer expectations are changing and retailers must learn how to respond.
- Empower employees: Employees are key to your organization’s growth, profitability, and competitive advantage.
- Optimize operations: Innovation is rapid in today’s market; to keep up with competitors, you need to be on top of your game.
- Transform your products: Data is the key to the discovering new opportunities and excelling in the digital age.
At Hitachi, we have the retail solutions to help you meet and exceed all of these benchmarks. Our programs, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 POS, can help with customer engagement, increase employee productivity, and enable retail transformation by creating an exceptional, insightful shopping experience that unifies digital, in-store, and back office retail operations. Our advanced analytics system will also help you find new ways to connect data and people so you can differentiate from the competition and ensure that you are always giving consumers what they want.
If you would like to learn more about Hitachi Solutions for retail, please contact our team – we’re always happy to answer any question you might have and help you begin your digital transformation.