Inventory management is one of the top challenges small businesses face today. Because we live in the information age, consumers expect to find everything they need with little effort. This includes not only information, but also variety in product selection. To meet this demand, stores are required to stock and keep track of a large number of SKUs. If they don’t, they risk losing the immediate sale and potentially the customer altogether.
According to a study done by Software Advice,
The risk of losing a customer over low inventory is something retailers take into consideration when making decisions regarding inventory. As they balance out the decision, they must also consider the cost of increasing SKU count, keeping inventory and tracking that inventory. For many, the risk of losing customers due to lack of inventory is too great. So up goes the SKU count.
(Motorola). While most small businesses don’t stock their products in warehouses, the same principle applies. Small businesses are pressured to constantly increase their SKU count to keep up with shopper demand. When shoppers walk into a store, they expect to see the type of variety they can find online. With this type of inventory to manage, business owners must implement an inventory management system
What’s shocking here is that 48% of small businesses use either a manual process to track inventory, or do not track their inventory at all (Wasp). This leads to multiple problems, two of which are as follows. Without an inventory management system in place, business owners either don’t know what they have in stock, (and neither will their customers), or they spend a great deal of time (and therefore, money) tracking inventory manually. Both problems will lead to thousands of dollars lost in sales and countless hours lost in unnecessary manual processes. To avoid losing money and time, a new process must be implemented.
Those small businesses looking to improve their inventory management process would be best served by choosing a point of sale with these top three must haves.
POS Must Have #1: Online Store Management
Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal quoted a study that reported that shoppers made 51% of their purchases online. With consumers splitting their time about evenly between online shopping and in-store shopping, retail stores need to be in both places. In addition to their brick and mortar, retailers should have an online store. This may seem obvious in the Internet age, but a surprising 46% of small businesses don’t have a website for their business (Entrepreneur.com).
Small businesses need to have an online store, but business owners don’t have endless amounts of time to run two separate stores. With the right point-of-sale system, this is not a problem. The link between these two stores should be a single system that effectively manages the products and data from both places. When shopping for a POS, store owners should search for a POS that can effectively and accurately track purchases and inventory online and in the store. A single system that can collect and manage data from both places will save time and increase inventory movement.
POS Must Have #2: Mobile Capability
Having a point of sale that can be accessed online via a mobile device is a huge benefit. Instead of working with outdated, bulky hardware, store owners can access the POS on a tablet from home, or take their POS with them to different areas of the store if needed. A mobile POS can go on the road to trade shows or events.
In addition to increasing convenience for the store owner, a mobile POS increases convenience for the customer and improves that customer’s view of the business. Customers are becoming more accustomed to shopping via their mobile devices. A study conducted by ComScore found that this year, 44% of smartphone users said they made a purchase from their device, up from 41% a year ago. When a customer sees a business using a mobile POS, they see that business as a modern retailer that understands their customers and the increasing role of current technology in today’s shopping arena.
While convenience is always a plus, the real pull for a mobile-POS is the increase in sales opportunities it brings. When store owners can bring their POS wherever they go, they are always available to help a customer finalize a sale. There’s no need to bring bulky hardware to an event, or tell customers that they can purchase online what interests them once they get home (and forget), with a mobile POS, customers can easily make purchases right at the event.
When store owners can bring their POS wherever they go, they are always available to help a customer finalize a sale.
POS Must Have #3: Special Services Capability
Special services are a great way for small businesses to bring in revenue, set themselves apart, and improve a customer’s experience. A point of sale should serve businesses in this capacity by making the process easier. Whether a small business offers classes, does repairs, has rentals, or all of the above, the POS needs to make these processes smooth for both the employee and the customer. What type of functionality would this type of POS have? It would allow services to easily be added as products at checkout. Employees shouldn’t waste their own time, or their customer’s time by writing out separate tickets, or requiring multiple transactions. When shopping, store owners should choose a POS that allows services to be added as products.
The right POS will not only allow services to be added as products, it will also help stores manage those services. The point of sale system should provide a report that gives an overview of when rentals will be out of the store and when they are due. It should also report the openings in registration for upcoming classes and events.
Finally, the right POS will improve the store-customer relationship through the service process by providing the functionality for reminder and notification texts. Employees should be able to send these reminders to be sent right from the POS. It will help customers feel connected to the store if they are reminded that the class they registered for is in two days. When a customer receives a text notification that a repair is ready for pickup, they will appreciate the time taken to communicate with them. Additionally, because text messages have a 98% open rate, a POS that texts customers opens the door to a lot of potential marketing options.
An Effective POS is a Must Have
With consumers expecting stores to constantly carry a great variety of products that are always in stock and available for purchase, store owners need a system that manages the products they sell both in-store, and online. This system should have mobile capability, and should make processing services efficient and easy. Don’t waste any more time or money by using an outdated system.