How Point-of-Sale Software Enhances an Enterprise Software System
WHAT IS A POINT-OF-SALE SYSTEM?
The point-of-sale system records detailed data concerning product sales, customer service productivity and inventory levels on a real-time basis, a feature that is not always provided by enterprise software packages. All of these factors influence purchasing, staffing and planning decisions. At the very minimum, the point-of-sale system tracks merchandise sales from a volume and a dollar amount. The system can track cash sales, credit sales, layaways and consignments. These details can be analyzed for business insight, including which items are being purchased and the dollar amounts of sales for each sales category. This report helps a business owner know which products and services to promote to improve their bottom line.
For example, if a POS system shows that more toys are put into layaway during November than are sold during cash transactions, then the store can promote its layaway service approaching and throughout that month to maximize toy sales. The point-of-sale system also tracks markdowns, discounts and returns. It can even discount certain items during a particular time frame automatically, which is highly useful for stores that enjoy holding special events during which selected items are on sale only at certain times, a common feature of many “Black Friday” promotions.
MAKE INFORMED DECISIONS
Sales volume can also be broken down on a daily and even hourly basis, which is a fundamental piece of information needed to make intelligent staffing decisions. For example, if a point-of-sale system indicates that the bulk of in-store sales occurs between the hours of 3 pm and 7 pm, then the logical conclusion would be to staff the store more heavily during those hours. Further, if the system shows that one customer service representative is consistently a top producer or a low producer, this information would factor into scheduling, advancement and compensation considerations. A POS system can also identify the results of issuing store coupons, offering a discount package or hosting a special in-store event, providing the retailer with the data to calculate the ROI on a particular marketing technique easily and immediately.
Because the point-of-sale system provides inventory information in real-time, it can prevent those embarrassing moments when an advertised special is out of stock. As the inventory level reaches a critical point, a call can go out either for expedited delivery or for merchandise to be transferred in from another location or distribution center. For a restaurateur, the ability to effectively manage perishable inventory is critical to the profitability of the operation. Being able to gauge inventory turn and implementing a just-in-time system would reduce the amount of stock that is thrown away because it is past its expiration date, ensuring that customer demand for specific dishes can continue to be met.
STAY RELEVANT WITH POS-ASSISTED CUSTOMER INTERACTIONS
A POS system can benefit customer service staff by creating a relational sales environment. Because the system can make customer data available at the time of sale, a staff member could suggest additional items based on the customer’s previous purchases. Some POS databases contain messages specific to customers, such as indicating that a special discount is available or that the customer has earned loyalty or reward points as part of a customer retention program. These tools can help customer service to promote your services and produce additional sales. The customer database can also include warnings to the salesclerk if a customer has a history of writing bad checks or having a credit card declined.
Finally, many point-of-sale systems ship with additional features that help streamline the sales process. Some of these features include the ability to issue e-receipts, to be integrated into online sales efforts, and to enhance customer management by automatically sending e-mailed promotions, service reminders or thank-you notes. A few even have scales for weighing loose items such as bakery items, confectionery or hardware. The POS-integrated scales calculate sales done by weight to a fraction, meaning that every ounce that is produced and sold will be accounted for.
THE BOTTOM LINE
A point-of-sale system is an essential tool that helps to increase sales, decrease inventory shortages or overages, create better-targeted marketing campaigns and reduce shrinkage. When used in conjunction with the additional features provided by enterprise software systems, the result is better decision-making and increased profitability.