Over the past decade, technology has brought disruption in customer expectations, as can be seen in the following statistics:
Today's complex customer expectations can only be met with the right technology. For this reason, small businesses need to invest in the point-of-sale (POS) software that best helps them:
To meet the expectations of today's customers, small businesses must invest in point-of-sale (POS) tools that help them analyze customer transactions and provide discounts and recommendations accordingly.
To give you an understanding of small business POS market, we've created this guide that includes necessary information related to the purchase of a POS solution.
Here's what we'll cover:
Small business POS software is a retail management solution that helps small retailers and other businesses manage their point of sale (POS) operations, including customer records, inventory, purchases and other transactions.
This type of software assists store operators in creating product entries, calculating total costs and taxes, creating bills and accepting payments.
POS software also integrates with useful retail hardware such as terminals, barcode scanners, card readers and iPads and other tablets.
There are four main types of POS solutions on the market:
Before you make a final purchase decision, you'll need an understanding of the features included in a POS solution. In this section, we're describing the most common POS software features to look for.
|Order management||Track and manage customer orders across all your business locations. Define stock keeping unit (SKU) codes and receive automatic prompts to reorder when inventory levels go below the set minimum.|
|Inventory management||Receive real-time reports on inventory levels. Transactions are synced in real time as soon as an in-store or online sale is made.|
|Customer management||Manage the customer registration process and add customer data to the database at the point of purchase. Marketers and business owners can use this information to create upselling and cross-selling campaigns.|
|Shift management||Schedule available staff and log their attendance and work hours. This functionality also allows managers to track employee clock-in/out times, leave and shift-swap requests.|
|Reporting||Generate real-time reports on sales, employee performance and inventory levels.|
|Payment management||Integrate with card readers and other payment devices to support multiple modes such as cash, credit cards and debit cards. POS software also generates invoices and sends email receipts to customers once a transaction is complete.|
In this section, we've classified small retail businesses into three categories, each having different characteristics and unique POS software needs:
Single store business. Due to limited resources and staff, single-location business owners have to manage a number of business functions on their own. They must schedule employees, prepare sales reports, track inventory, manage payroll and calculate business taxes.
For this reason, if you operate a single-location store, you should invest in a POS solution that helps you automate operational tasks. Look for a product that includes inventory tracking, reporting and employee scheduling functionalities, as well as the ability to integrate with your accounting platform.
Multilocation chain. If you operate your business across multiple locations, managing inventory is a big challenge because you have to track sales, profits and purchases across each of these locations.
For this reason, POS software buyers that operate more than one store should invest in a product that specifically offers multilocation support. These products enable users to manage purchases across each business location, monitor inventory levels in real time and track sales and profits across all the locations.
Combined brick-and-mortar and online business. Businesses that sell their products both in store and online have significantly different needs compared to businesses that sell exclusively from physical stores. They have to manage their website, product listings on marketplaces (such as Amazon and eBay), online orders and online payments. They must also track in-store inventory in tandem with online orders.
For this reason, if you run a retail business that sells products online, you need to invest in a POS solution that offers e-commerce integration and website management functionality. You should also look for marketplace integrations such as Amazon.com and eBay that help you manage product listings and sales on these channels.
Artificial intelligence (AI) to power product recommendations in the future. "Product recommendations" is one of the most important parameters that today's customers value. In response, small businesses have started exploring AI technology to provide better and more relevant recommendations. An AI-powered recommendation engine processes a number of factors such as purchase history, retail trends and season to provide the most appropriate product recommendations. We expect to see an increase in adoption of AI-powered recommendation engines by 2020.
Digital receipts to replace paper invoices. The relevance of paper receipts is diminishing rapidly: Nine out of 10 paper receipts generated today end up getting scrapped. This trend is driving the rapid adoption of digital receipts in retail businesses. As digital receipts completely replace paper-based receipts, we expect digital receipts to become a core feature in all small business POS solutions by 2021.
IoT will completely disrupt customer expectations. With the proliferation of smart devices, IoT is already disrupting customers' purchase preferences. For instance, using IoT-based products such as Amazon Dash, consumers can place orders on Amazon.com using voice commands. Retailers have also started leveraging IoT devices to offer personalized discounts to customers based on the section of the store they're in. With these developments and the increasing adoption of smart devices, we can expect this trend to disrupt the retail industry significantly by 2023.
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