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Buyer's Guide

by Justin Guinn,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: March 2, 2017

The hallmark of a convenience store is quick transactions. Customers want to get in and get out. Inventory turns are quick, but many items are also perishable. Adding gasoline and diesel sales to the mix makes both the transaction size and the documentation complexity increase. Gasoline sales are regulated and price changes are a continuing challenge; prices must be set at the pumps, on signs and in point-of-sale (POS) software; calculating inventory costs is also problematic as different-priced deliveries are mixed in the same tanks.

Accounts payable, payroll and general ledger are the same for convenience stores and gas stations. Accounts receivable is generally limited to handling credit card charges and cash handling is a particular problem for both. Inventory is also a challenge for both because of the amount of inventory for convenience stores and pricing of fuel for gas stations. Customer relationship management plays a very limited role.

Common Features of Convenience Store POS Software

In addition to the core accounting functions, gas station and convenience store operators should evaluate the following functions to meet their unique requirements:

Pool margin calculation Gas stations need to calculate the pool margin and track costs and profitability of fuel sales. This process needs current tank levels, current pool margin, current inventory price and new delivery amount and price. It is updated with every delivery for each type of fuel sold.
Spoilage reporting Convenience stores sell perishable goods; the “sell by” dates must be tracked, expired inventory must be collected and disposed of and the process properly documented.
Gasoline price calculation Gas prices fluctuate frequently; the system must make certain the prices are correctly calculated and are within legal specifications.
UPC code catalog Convenience stores carry small amounts of many items. Building an inventory from scratch could take weeks; a convenience store inventory software system must include a UPC code catalog with descriptions for common items to save time in building the inventory.
Bottle deposit tracking Eleven states have beverage bottle restrictions; 22 have plans under consideration. The system needs to track deposits and bottle sales, and produce compliance reports.
Safe drops The POS system must track safe drops. It must record drop amounts and compliance with drop policies by store employees. It should also track cash-in-drawer amounts and notify employees when cash drops are necessary.
House account tracking Many gas station chains, large and small, provide services to corporate fleets. These are usually handled by house accounts, which need to be tracked separately and reported to the central office.
Employee auditing Inventory shrinkage is a problem for convenience stores. An accurate and up-to-date employee audit, done frequently, is one tool to help curb the problem.
Compliance reporting Gas stations are subject to compliance reporting. The same requirement applies to a lesser degree to convenience stores. The software should prepare all compliance reports.
Security system integration Both convenience stores and gas stations benefit from an integration between the POS system and security systems, linking security recordings with transaction records.

Expected Benefits

Convenience store POS software helps retailers reduce transaction time, manage inventory and prices and increase sales. It also helps them to reduce human errors and manage compliance issues that arise from frequent changes in gas prices by automating the pricing process.

Stores should be able to realize the following potential benefits from a convenience store POS software:

Efficient POS operations: One of the most sought-after functionalities of a POS solution is automating the burdensome manual checkout process for both retailers and customers. POS solutions allow retailers to facilitate digital wallets and credit card transactions. This reduces the customer wait time during billing, allows cashiers to process additional transactions and prevents human errors that can result from frequent fluctuations in prices. Retailers can spend their freed-up time to address customers issues, analyze their business’s performance and focus on more pressing store management issues.

Streamline inventory management: Convenience store POS software helps retailers to automate inventory management processes, such as receiving product delivery and updating inventory levels after sale. In addition, retailers can track the best-performing products and their inventory levels in real time to ensure that inventory levels are optimum round the clock. With real-time inventory updates, retailers can prevent spoilage by selling perishable products on a first-in, first-out (FIFO) basis.

Reduces overheads and increases margins: Convenience store POS solutions automate manual tasks, such as data entry, price updates, cash management and billing, which reduces human errors and enhances customer satisfaction. By reducing these manual efforts, retailers can focus on improving customer engagement, creating performance reports to identify problems areas and training their employees to serve customers in a better way.

Personalize customer interactions: With POS solutions, retailers are able to personalize customer interactions by creating a customer database, sending offers via emails and running promotional campaigns targeting customer retention. Moreover, advanced POS solutions send automated emails to customers on important events in their lives such as birthdays, anniversaries and festivals.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Small POS buyers: Retailers with a limited number of stores typically look for simple POS solutions to manage inventory, contact customers and facilitate credit transactions. These solutions are usually bundled up with the CRM and accounting capabilities to manage the different requirements of small businesses. Retailers also look for reporting and dashboard functionalities to analyze business performance and take timely corrective decisions.

Enterprise buyers: The typical buyers of these solutions are large enterprises that aim to resolve specific business challenges and target to achieve definite business goals. Buyers in this category look for advanced marketing and database management capabilities because of their large customer base. Legal compliance plays a pivotal role in these organizations due to the regulatory restrictions on the prices of gas products, which should remain within the prescribed limit.

The retail market is flooded with numerous convenience store POS solutions. Retailers should list down the functionalities they want in a solution so that they can solve business challenges and improve their operations. They should be wary of opting for a solution that provides the maximum number of features and yet, doesn’t fulfill all their needs.

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