If you’re considering a new POS for your business, there are a lot of alternatives to a simple card slider or a full cash wrap system in a box. Affordable POS systems for small businesses can help to keep you running a tight ship, and even compete with the Big Shots of eCommerce for a share of the $1.5 trillion that eMarketer forecasts will be spent shopping online this year. If you have an iPad or an Android tablet, you’re halfway to your POS.
The Cash Register is Costing You Money
Shrinkage costs money. Inventory unaccounted for is inventory as good as stolen, and it can drain a business faster than Dracula could drain a blood bank. According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, $35 million per day is lifted from retailers ranging from the big mass merchandisers to the small farmers market booth by everyone from employees (30 percent), to shoplifters (50 percent), to simple human error (20 percent). Keeping a precise track of your inventory can help you to pinpoint any shrinkage before your finances start to bleed.
What Are the Advantages of a POS?
Bringing in a POS can help you manage not only your brick and mortar location, but also any remote locations you might have such as a swap meet or farmer’s market booth. The POS can be as simple as a card reader on your smartphone, or be an entire multi-part system integrated with a server in your back office.
The benefits are significant:
- Accuracy: Whether you’re scanning in a bar code or tapping an icon on a touch screen, it’s much more accurate than manually entering a code from a sticker or a price from a tag, or expecting that the cashier will remember the correct price if either is missing.
- Analysis: POS systems allow you to do much more than get paid. They can track inventory, warn you when to reorder, keep better track of markdowns, analyze sales patterns, and keep more accurate records. When it comes to stopping loss, having each associate key in their own code for each transaction can also keep the chain of accountability intact.
- Integration: A POS has the ability to integrate with your accounting software, feeding raw data directly to your accounting platform. Keeping track of taxes and other details helps get them paid on time, and keep your business in the black.
- Scalability: The right POS will grow with your business, just like adding hot swappable components to your computer. With a POS network, you can view detailed reports by individual register, sales rep, and other filters, helping you to decide where you need to grow.
The POS Must Haves
The great news is that major players in the POS game all have tablet based POS systems, even eCommerce platforms like Shopify want to make it easy for their clients to purchase, deploy, and operate a POS system in any of their locations – web, brick and mortar, or pop up store.
- Card Slider: Replacing the credit card processing machine with a credit card slider will often stop a big drain on your bank account. Monthly leasing costs and fees are eliminated (though transaction fees will remain) and the checkout procedure is simplified by a simple swipe and sign process completed entirely on the tablet.
- Cash Drawer: The cash drawer needs to be sturdy enough to handle lots of use, and made of a tough material such as steel or high impact plastic to be secure. While the drawer opens on a cue from the tablet or receipt printer, a secure drawer should also have a manual key.
- Barcode Scanner: Yes, you do need one of these! Being able to generate barcoded labels for your inventory is the first step to putting the control in inventory control. Scanning barcodes instead of relying on stickers, tags, or memory is much more accurate, and the item can be deducted from the inventory as soon as the sale is rung up.
- Receipt Printer: Generate receipts quickly and accurately with a small receipt printer. Whether thermal or ribbon and pin, a receipt printer will give you the option of obtaining a pen and ink customer signature for credit card and non cash transactions such as PayPal or Dwolla made in store. Some receipt printers also double as check scanners, giving your customers another way to pay.
- Barcode Printer: Yes, you need this too. The Barcode Fairy isn’t going to come along and magically label your inventory for you. Investing in a barcode printer and coordinating your barcoding operation with your POS eliminates extra steps from inventory control.
While retail sales for the second fiscal quarter that closed in June were described as lackluster, according to Reuters, they are expected to rebound in the third quarter. Combined with small business optimism following a record Black Friday and Cyber Monday for last year’s holiday shopping season, implementing a POS now could really make your jingle bells rock at the end of December.