Checklist: POS Implementation Guide for Retailers Opening Shop

By: on August 25, 2016

Opening a retail store is an exhausting, painful undertaking. You have to get monetary backing, find a location and cut through a ton of red tape … oh, and it’s incredibly financially risky:

53 percent of retail startups fail in the first four years (Statistic Brain).

But those aren’t insurmountable odds—You can do this! You just need to move smart and constantly strategize around the central pillars of your store:

  • Brand: What’s your story? What do you believe in as a store owner?
  • Products: What differentiates your products from others in the market?
  • Experience: Customer experience = brand + products + marketing + service

Once you have your location, finances and brand/products/customer experience established, you’re almost there. Just one more hurdle: POS implementation.

Selecting and implementing your retail point of sale (POS) system is one of the final cogs in opening your retail shop. Selecting the best POS system for your store can be a difficult task. So much so that, here at Software Advice, we’ve literally built a business around helping you do so.

We’ve also created this helpful POS implementation guide. Use this checklist throughout the process to ensure you get your system up and running properly.

Seriously, if you’re struggling to find a POS for your business, let us help! You can check out our user reviews for POS systems or answer a couple questions and speak with a POS advisor.

How to Succeed at Your POS Implementation

Setting up and implementing a POS system can be just as challenging as choosing the right one, but your life will be much easier if you make sure to do things properly from the beginning. That’s why we’ve created a checklist to help you succeed in your POS implementation.

Download our checklist and use it with the explanation below as a simple guide to setting up your POS. Check the boxes as you go!

Download checklist

A POS system should streamline your store’s operations and automate once tedious manual tasks. An improperly set-up POS will have the opposite effect—It can be a drag on your operations, adding steps to your processes and agitating employees and customers.

We’re walking you through each step of the POS implementation guide in detail below so that this doesn’t happen to you.

Establish Performance Metrics

One critical benefit a POS system provides is transparency into your business. Most POS software on the market today includes some level of reporting and data analytics. These capabilities can collect, process and articulate valuable insights into “the numbers” of your business.

This feature is so valuable that three-quarters of your peers are requesting it:

Reporting and analytics capabilities give you actionable data about:

  • Top selling items
  • Highest margin items
  • Most valuable customers
  • Busiest times of day
  • Busiest times of year

While this data is great to have, it can’t just be viewed in a vacuum. You have to measure your performance goals against the data to spot potential inefficiencies. For example, find out whether your average transaction value is hitting below your projections. If so, you’ll need to find a way to increase it or drive more transactions to make up for it.

And, even if you’re hitting all your goals at the end of the day, our research shows how these metrics can still help you increase your overall sales.

Input Inventory Information

Another extremely valuable facet of your business that a POS can monitor and help you manage is your inventory. If you set your POS system up properly from the start, you can automate your entire inventory management process.

Your life will be much easier down the road if you do this correctly from the beginning.

To accomplish this, be sure to follow these steps when you set up your POS:

  • Enter accurate stock counts for each stock keep unit (SKU) number
  • Input supplier ordering information for easier reordering
  • Create alerts for low stock levels, or even set up automatic reorders

Again, nearly three-quarters of the retailers we consulted about POS systems see the value of inventory management:

There’s no reason for you to spend time counting inventory when you could be interacting with customers or training employees. These are much more impactful uses of your time. Not to mention, automating the process improves the accuracy of inventory counts by eliminating human error.

This is critical considering our data found 85 percent of customers won’t return to your store if an item they wanted is out-of-stock:

Enter Employee Data

Just as you enter your inventory and product details, you can also put your employees’ information into the system.

This information can include:

  • Full and preferred names
  • Contact information
  • Worker/employee identification
  • Hours scheduled/worked
  • Payroll/direct deposit information

Collecting and storing this information from the get-go prevents unnecessary back-and-forth and chasing down employee information (e.g., when tax season rolls around).

Directly tied to employee management is your shift schedule. Most POS systems include a scheduling component to assign shifts and allow employees to view their schedules.

Our data indicates that this is a crucial tool to have, as 85 percent of customers will stop shopping at your store if it’s understaffed:

Not only does POS-enabled scheduling make it easy to assign and view shifts, but many systems actually let employees swap shifts on their own (based on predetermined rules you set). This type of direct employee calendar management eliminates the need for you, as the store owner, to operate as the gatekeeper for shift trading.

Clock-in/clock-out capabilities take even more weight off your shoulders by automatically recording employee hours. Aside from the obvious benefit this has for payroll accuracy, you can review clock-in/clock-out times to keep employees accountable.

It’s also valuable if a cash drawer is short at the end of the day. You can refer back to the clock-in/clock-out times to see who was working that drawer throughout the day.

Be Prepared to Collect Customer Information

Collecting and analyzing customer information is a key capability of your POS system. It’s similar to the reporting and analytics function, but it’s tied specifically to customer data.

Valuable insights you can collect and customer information you should be collecting include:

  • Purchase histories
  • Contact information
  • Personal information (i.e., birthdays, favorite products)

This information also lays the foundation for a customer loyalty program, which you should have.

We know loyal customers value being seen as such, as 66 percent of customers we surveyed said they will stop shopping at your store if they’re not recognized as loyal shoppers.

However, you’ll want to be smart about gathering this data. You should decide from the beginning exactly what customer data you want to capture at the point of sale as well as how exactly you want to do it.

Keep in mind, it could be jarring for an associate to ask a customer for all their information before completing their transaction. The last thing you want to do is harm the customer experience.

Customer Experience Roadmap

It’d be much smoother if you only asked for their email, then followed up with an email form requesting the rest of their info. Whatever information you decide to solicit, work with employees on the best way to ask for it. You don’t want to ruin the customer experience, but you do want to build a customer profile and record the purchase.

One solution would be to have employees write out a script of what they’d say to customers. They can practice and tweak it until they’re comfortable with it. Some POS systems also enable users to set up automatic prompts for employees. This way, an employee is reminded and must perform an action (e.g., enter contact information) before finishing the transaction.

Once you get your processes in place, determine what exactly your loyalty program will look like. Why would a customer want to join it? Is it going to be a rewards program? What would the rewards be? And for whatever you decide to do, what’s the ROI?

We’ve outlined and answered these questions in depth in our article about how to build customer loyalty for your retail store. Give it a read to learn what your program should do.

Optimize Necessary Steps for Completing Transactions

The final item on our list is simple, but often overlooked. Think back to the main benefit of correctly implementing your POS—making the checkout process more efficient.

Our data shows that customers care greatly about how long it takes to checkout, as 82 percent of shoppers are likely to stop shopping at your store if there’s a long wait to check out:

To ensure your POS system streamlines your checkout process, set up a barcode scanning system that automatically pulls product prices and info when scanned. This is much more efficient than manually looking up a product or typing in a product number.

Another way to ensure your transaction process is optimized is to offer multiple payment options to satisfy customers’ needs. Options to consider include:

  • Cash: Cash is king, for the foreseeable future
  • Credit/debit cards: You’ll want to accept swipe and chip/EMV cards. Accepting EMV will reduce your risk of being held liable for fraudulent charges. Learn more about it here.

Final Thoughts

By taking heed of the recommendations in our checklist for POS implementation, you’ll be ready to leverage the full power of your system right out of the box.

  • If you’re still having trouble choosing the best POS system for your business, explore some of the user reviews your peers have left about the top POS systems on the market.
  • When setting up your POS software, don’t forget about the necessary hardware components you’ll need as well. Review our list of hardware components and learn more about POS systems in our Point of Sale System 101 Guide.

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