How to find the right point of sale system

Pet Business –  Pet specialty retailers know they need to keep up with the latest technology in order to remain competitive, but sometimes it’s difficult to figure out exactly what tools they need. According to the 2019 Unified Commerce Survey by BRP Consulting, 87 percent of consumers want a personalized and consistent experience across channels, 64 percent of consumers choose a store based on product information availability via their mobile device and 68 percent of consumers would choose a store that offers personalized promotions/discounts over a store that doesn’t.

The best way to encompass all of these wants is through a comprehensive point of sale (POS) system, which provides solutions in the forms of payment processing, data analytics and customer communications. The right POS system can help retailers connect with consumers across all channels and handle the day-to-day of the business. The key, manufacturers say, is to learn about the features that are available.

Retailers must consider several factors when shopping for a POS system. Among the most important features are inventory management, integrated secure payments, reporting and analytics, third-party integrations and loyalty programs.

Retailers need to look for a POS system that covers all these bases and is designed specifically for the pet specialty retail industry, says Carl Hildebrandt, senior director of product management for Austin, Texas-based Epicor. He explains that while a generic POS system might show short-term gains, the ability to grow and scale will plateau very quickly, putting the retailer back to square one after a year or two.

“A functional application that is not designed specifically with a retailer’s industry and users in mind will result in frustrated employees, disparate workflows and a compromised consumer experience,” explains Hildebrandt. “It helps to have step-by-step instructions, intuitive workflows and analytics for quick decision making to help employees feel empowered. The system should help the retailer ensure the right products are being stocked at the right times, and that customers are being rewarded with the incentives and elevated experiences.”

Epicor recently launched Epicor Retail Cloud, which has robust point of sale and store management capabilities and training features, such as embedded and contextual learning resources, including interactive tours, guided learning, videos, articles and more.

“These tools accelerate onboarding of new employees and help them continually improve their productivity and fluency with the system,” says Hildebrandt.

With cloud technology, retailers are able to have a solution anytime, on any web-enabled device. Employees can immediately look up product information, use or care instructions, pricing or inventory to answer customer inquiries.

Taking Inventory

Retailers should look for a POS system with built-in inventory management, says Kyle Diamond, director of sales for Lightspeed. He explains that a POS with “robust” inventory management capabilities helps forecast what products will be needed and help keep shelves stocked with products that customers actually want. Spending resources on inventory that’s in demand will boost a store’s revenue potential and keep customers happy.

The most important functions include the ability to view stock levels for each store location, reports on which brands and products are top sellers, automated reminders when an item is running low on stock, simplified purchase orders and work order workflows, and automatic product imports from vendor catalogs. Also important are customizable customer profile accounts that keep track of information, such as the shopper’s pet’s breed, favorite treats and last grooming appointment.

Diamond explains that some retailers, especially first-timers, make the mistake of shopping for the lowest price POS system.

“Some will fall for POS systems that are almost free, but offer very limited functionality,” he says. “To unlock more out of it, you’d have to buy all the functions you need à la carte, much like the in-app purchasing done by apps on your phone,” which would end up being more expensive in the long run.

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