The recent pandemic has meant that many companies have had to radically reevaluate how they operate and Point of Sale (POS) systems have helped many businesses cope with COVID.
In this article, we’re looking at some of the ways that POS systems have provided more options for business owners who need to refine or even pivot their businesses in response.
POS systems – not just for retailers
Probably the first point we should cover is that POS systems, although traditionally thought of as a retail-only option, are actually useful for many different types of businesses.
Modern systems are so versatile that they can be used in traditional bricks and mortar stores, cafes, travel agents, online shops and many other types of business.
This points the way to the key feature that is so important for any business during a time of crisis – flexibility.
The pandemic has shown that businesses need to remain flexible and look at new ways of doing things because uncertainty is now a feature of everyday life and research has shown that POS systems help retailers develop that digital agility.
Having a POS system that can be used with different sales channels, selling different goods or services and across a single or multiple locations means that the company has options which is after all what they need.
The second point that is worth bearing in mind is that POS systems aren’t just for the big boys.
Back in the day having a bespoke POS that would sit on the cash registers in stores was really only an option available to wealthy retailers but now, with the huge increase in the number of systems around and the subsequent reduction in price, they are accessible for all.
So let’s look at some of the ways that POS systems have helped companies cope with COVID.
Understanding and insight
We’ve already seen that uncertainty is a feature of modern life and one of the ways that a good POS can help is by removing some of that uncertainty.
Businesses need to be as lean as possible and so gaining an insight into what lines are selling, which are sticking and what customers are searching for is essential.
A great POS will have excellent reporting functions that will tell managers at a glance where their profit is being made and where they need to shed underperforming SKUs.
Having access to real-time sales information enables business owners to develop insight into the way that business is evolving and informs their strategic decision making.
For example, some locations may have been extremely profitable during good times but now may be suffering. Is it better to remain open or close for the duration? With a great POS, the information is available to aid the decision.
Coping with less staff
Covid has meant that many companies have had to furlough staff or even make redundancies and whilst the business has less people, it still needs to carry on working.
Often cited as one of the biggest benefits of the POS revolution is that these systems can automate many of the processes and operations that were formerly done by employees.
Any good POS system will make up orders for suppliers based on sales and some will also alter stockholding minimums where they see formerly popular lines reducing or slower movers becoming stars, thus removing the need to use people to manage inventory.
Adding new sales channels
One of the most impressive sights of the pandemic has been seeing companies completely redesign the way that they interact with customers.
The flexibility and adaptability that businesses show during a crisis is truly impressive.
A good POS system will be flexible enough to allow a bricks and mortar retailer to easily switch to online trading, or a sit-in cafe begin to do order delivery and takeaways.
Whilst the system itself may still hold all the same products or services within its database, the business owner can simply add on channels, delivery options and payment gateways to make the whole purchase to fulfilment process a completely seamless one.
Scientists tell us that it is safer to reduce contact as much as possible and to stop using cash for payments.
For businesses that were face to face and dealt mainly in cash, this caused a major problem however it is an issue that a POS can help with.
The order process can be conducted online or by using touchscreens away from staff meaning that human contact is lessened as far as possible.
Payment can also be taken using an integrated gateway that allows the customer to use their credit card or mobile device.
Selling when the business is closed
For many businesses the option of remaining open is taken completely out of their hands.
If they are located in malls or if the government locks down their area then the doors remain shut.
Using a POS system to hold stock together with its attributes such as a description, price and delivery cost means that this can be easily integrated with trading platforms like Amazon or eBay or even the seller’s own online store.
This means that whatever is happening with their locations, businesses can still serve their customers.
Running special promotions
As we have already seen, access to information is one of the best features of POS and knowing what customers buy and what they buy it with is incredibly helpful.
Some customers may value special promotions at particular times and a POS can be used to collect information about customer behaviour that allows us to offer different products at an appropriate point.
For example, if we know that in the past customers who buy cheese also buy crackers, then we can make sure as soon as a customer places cheese in their shopping cart we offer them a selection of our premium crackers.
This is a simple example but it can be extended to any company, any product or service. Put simply, POS gives businesses information to supercharge their marketing.
With an expectation that more Christmas shopping than ever is going to be done online it makes sense that retailers ensure they are able to capitalise on event marketing.
Preparing for the ‘retail spring’
What we have seen where businesses have exited lockdown is that there is a pent up demand that results in a mini-boom once restrictions are lifted.
This so-called ‘retail spring’ is the point where switched-on business can use their POS systems to ensure that they are fully prepared to capitalise.
Having the right level of stockholding, exciting and valuable re-opening offers and being able to take payments and carry out deliveries easily all feature heavily.
Some areas also require businesses to retain a log of visiting customers for ‘track and trace’ in the event of a local flare-up and POS can also help with this.
POS; adding in the flexibility that companies need
Adaptability is essential for businesses that are trying to weather the storm of COVID.
The availability of information, extra channels and assisting with contactless selling that POS brings have all helped companies to cope with COVID.
In the future POS will help companies to ensure that they can capitalise on the retail spring and remain flexible should anything like the COVID outbreak ever happen again.