Business is good, all is right with the world. Or is it? How much time is spent tracking inventory, chasing mistakes, and sorting out sales with staff that could be spent on actual customer service. It might be time to bite the bullet and get into point of sale systems (POS), hardware and software that streamlines the business, and allows more efficient service delivery. Business owners can track usage, monitor changes in costs, calculate re-order dates, and analyze inventories on an item-by-item basis. Many POS systems include all of the hardware and software in the package, saving money, and assisting with setup and support. Long term technical support is vitally important for keeping a system current and useful in the marketplace.
Even with a great product or service many small businesses fail, often in their first year. In the world of business, it is important that customers recognize what makes a company different than its competition. Brand loyalty and word of mouth advertising are the most important relationships that businesses need to have with their customers. If customer service is neglected due to inefficient processes, then the business will suffer. Point of sale systems allow for increased efficiency in promotions, markdown, and inventory control. A customer who needs an item monthly can have that item pre-ordered and held in inventory. The customer feels favored, their loyalty grows, and the word of mouth advertising for the business is invaluable. It allows greater control of the system when the owner/manager is not on site. Customer loyalty can make or break a business.
Not all business managers want to be tied 24/7 to their businesses. Owning a business should give one a greater sense of control, and more freedom rather than less. A well set-up and managed business should give one more time to spend with family, enjoy holidays, and spend time on the hobbies that lead to a well-balanced and enjoyable lifestyle. Point of sale systems should help enable that freedom. Well trained and loyal employees appreciate a system that makes their lives easier. Ease or use, entry of information, pricing, product information, and sales tracking options should all be considered when purchasing a system. Inventory control and efficient in-store processes make work less frustrating, and the bottom line higher. The adage is true; it takes money to make money.
There are many vendors for point of sale systems in the market. Some companies promise that their systems will do everything for everybody. A fully loaded sports car that does 0-100 in 3.6 seconds is fun to drive, but a poor choice for a family with three children needing to get to hockey practice. There are times when only a sport utility or minivan will do the job. A better choice for a business would be a company that doesn’t offer the moon, but is realistic enough to offer a system simple enough for everyone to use. Speed, reliability, and simplicity trumps maximization of features. A company and its employees cannot use what it doesn’t understand. User-friendly software and the ability to customize or adapt existing applications for multiple platforms will be important for long-term success.
As with anything else in life, you get what you pay for. The simplest and best solution for a business may not be the cheapest one. Point of sale systems and vendors are not the only option or accessory for a business. Online sales systems need to integrate with their in-store counterparts in order for the business to run smoothly. If inventory in-store doesn’t match up to what is advertised online and vice versa, then the business can be embarrassed. Word of mouth advertising is powerful. Negative online reviews can threaten the welfare of a business. Once a reputation is destroyed it is difficult to rebuild.
To sum it up, every business is different, and must find its own solution. Resources are available to assist with research and the decision-making process. Cost is a factor, but will ultimately be determined by the best fit for the needs of the user. Business owners and managers are besieged with decisions that must be made in order for their businesses to thrive. Point of sale systems are one more tool in the arsenal.
This article was written by Andrea Church, on behalf of microbiz.com.