There is a lot of confusion in the retail industry around payments and Point-of-Sale (POS).
Technology and banking giants rushing to offer mobile payment features and apps to capitalize on the growing consumer demand for these types of payments. Some of these companies are packaging payment solutions with other options like analytics and calling it POS.
Payments are a key component of POS, however its time for retailers to rethink their business operations and the definition of POS and payments. Retailers need more from a POS solution than the ability to run a transaction and provide analytics around sales. They need a comprehensive retail software platform that helps them manage all facets of their business and does not lock them into one or limited payment choices. They need a solution that provides options that best fits the retailers and their customers needs.
So while any given POS probably may not accomplish every single need of a retailer, POS providers should be able to give retailers the right solutions that fit thevery unique requirements of their business. Unique retail needs are reflected in the various offerings of retail POS providers, and we are seeing innovations that go beyond taking payments into software that is capable of automating business-essential operations.
When evaluating POS and retail software, business owners should consider the following features - whether it is already packaged with the platform or available in a robust 3rd party app ecosystem.
Cloud-based. A cloud-based POS offers retailers several benefits; most notably flexibility, cost, and remote access. With a cloud-based POS system, retailers can have the system run across all of its locations. Retails can also access information remotely. Additionally, traditional software solutions are extremely costly while a cloud-based POS gives retailers a cost-friendly solution.
Inventory Management. In addition to having a device that takes payments of all types, retailers need tools that take them beyond the upfront transaction and into the back office to help them track sales, profitability, and manage inventory.
Cutting-edge retailers are adopting POS solutions that include inventory systems to automatically track inventory levels as you ring-up customers, so retailers wont have to worry about manually updating the database. These systems have reminders to re-order stock, and also keep track of your profitability by item or by supplier.
E-commerce. Inventory must also be available 24/7 to accommodate the on-demand mentality of shoppers. Brick-and-mortar retailers who sell online can link physical inventory to online inventory and ensure they always have enough to sell.
Reporting, customer management, and more. A POS system should also provide insights into budget, revenue, and show which products have the highest profit margins. It should also give retailers an at-a-glance view of sales and staff performance from anywhere, so it is easy to check on the health of the business.
But what is a store without its customers? Repeat customers spend nearly 70 percent more than newly acquired ones and will drive the success of every business. With a smart and robust POS platform, retailers can develop and manage programs that incentivizes customers and build strong customer loyalty.
With all the retail management options that can be integrated with POS, its more important than ever to not just limit it to a payments solution when it can achieve so much more. Instead, retailers must look for a POS and retail software solution with an open ecosystem of apps that integrates with payments, connects in-store and online inventory, provides key insights, the ability to manage loyalty programs, and so-on. This is, after all, the future of retail.
Vaughan Rowsell is CEO of Vend, based in Auckland, New Zealand.