Every day now we are witnessing increasing numbers of businesses using POS technology to process our purchases, and we are beginning to see just how many other possibilities exist for merchants and businesses in the hospitality industry to provide us with a more full experience in many other ways. For many years, the conventional POS occupied an entirely different status in the minds of consumers, particularly. It was just a cash register at the end of a checkout line, manned by a cashier or a self-checkout register where we would process our purchases ourselves. Time and technology have advanced the way POS is now regarded, and while every business must have some sort of point of sale in order to process payments, look around: there is an entirely new life that has been breathed into POS.
There are a Lot of Changes POS Technology is Going to Bring Our Way
Often technological changes that occur within our environments are not readily noticed, as we are typically already thinking about what we will be doing next as we are participating in the “here and now.” We overlook as much as possible, mostly in an effort to minimize any waste of time, but what we are really doing is reducing the amount of life we are really living. So the only time we are made aware of changes such as the elements of POS technology that are on the rise is when any one of them interferes with our normal processes. If we have come to expect certain standard progressions from the businesses and restaurants we tend to frequent. New innovations in POS technology are going to be changing much of that, and have already begun to do so.
Using POS Technology to Increase Your Company’s Presence
In addition to the myriad of ways POS systems can streamline your sales and inventory management capabilities, many business owners are taking advantage of how POS technology can work to help increase their presence in the most positive of ways by using social media. You may not be totally aware of just what an online presence is. Essentially, it refers to the sum total of all the identities you have created for your business along with the interactions those identities have been a part of or participated in online. Truly, your online presence gives your company the broadest possible contact with potential customers. If you build it in the right way, you can spread your brand awareness and consequently gain fans, followers, leads and more-that will parlay into increased business that would be impossible to reach otherwise.
One of the best parts about using the newest POS technology is that it allows you to conduct marketing campaigns that cost you absolutely nothing. So, while your initial upfront investment of a POS system is certainly an investment, it’s one that you would have had to make anyway, unless you prefer to process your business sale by using an abacus or by counting on your fingers and using a Tupperware container for safekeeping your money. Maybe your business is a startup and you don’t envision yourself having a lot of requirements beyond processing payments. The fact is that in our present and future society, there are going to be an increasingly number of business operational functions that POS technology will be taking over in the days to come. Anyone whose thinking is so limited as to imagine no need for other capabilities is going to have a whale of a time staying competitive and even staying afloat when everyone else out there is POS operated.
Purchases Needed: Hardware and Software
All of the amazing ways in which you will save money with POS technology outshadow the relatively small investment a system requires. This is some of the best news, when it comes to expensing out the feasibility of investing in a POS system for your business. The benefits of POS system accounting make it easy and instant to see when the day’s (or shift’s) totals do not align with the amount in the till. While this is not an issue when a business has no employees, it is of great money saving value when you must rely on others to handle your profits. Without going into how fragile trust can be when money is involved, just know that by explaining to your employees how your POS system tracks every sale, discount, exchange and return in addition to how it keeps up with inventory your employees will be alleviated of the temptation to perform any untoward actions on their shift. There are also software options that manage inventory in a way as to prevent you from double ordering or buying merchandise that is not popular with customers. You will clearly know when and if you should reorder. With software that generates and hardware that prints, you can use barcode technology that will unequivocally carry the set price of any item, along with its sale or discounted status, if any exists. All of this represents substantial savings for your business.
Promotions, Rewards and Incentives
Another function of great benefit are all the ways in which you can use your POS system to become familiar with your customers’ shopping preferences as well as get a better understanding of current trends. You can do much to increase your own branding with one or a few unique items that can be directly attributed to your store by generating popup ads in just the right places. POS technology allows you to maintain the special relationship you have with your customers by using social media to broadcast the more generalized campaigns, while at the same time, you can send personal direct messages to your more loyal patrons as a way of extending fully customized rewards tailored to each one.
Have you noticed the sudden wave of POS technology that has come to many fast casual and casual dining restaurants and eateries around town? If you have had little or no experience with POS technology, here’s your chance to use it and develop a real appreciation for just how it works. By placing a small touchscreen device at each table, restaurants are giving much to their customers in the form of power and entertainment. Gone now is the need to wave, yell and get up to go find your server, as the diner can express many different needs directly and instantaneously through their POS touchscreen device. Many of the levels of capabilities (as pre-set by each restaurant) include ordering and even paying for your meal by using the device.
Enhanced Dining With Entertainment for the Whole Family
This technology is in no way designed to replace the personal touch that only a human server can provide, but it is to enhance the dining experience so that hopefully every aspect of the visit is rewarding and circumvents any potential frustration for both the diner and the server. Got kids? They quickly become enthralled with the huge variety of fun games contained on these devices, and they all enable different mastery levels, so adults enjoy playing them as well. The wait time (if there is one,) seems nominal with a fun game to entertain you, right there at the table. Families with young children actually report being able to truly enjoy going out for a meal, since the advent of these POS devices have become standard inclusions in the experience. They have solved the problem of unsettled children who have yet to learn the fine art of cultured mealtime behavior.
Loads of Features
These tabletop tablets can feature a lot of extras, like card readers to process credit and debit payments, and they make it possible to share your real time experience on Facebook. There are units that are made with a camera, so that you can take pictures of everyone enjoying their meal and good company and share them on social media too. They offer tip calculators to take out the guesswork when it’s time to pay. Customers can enroll in your eclub, which will share specials and offer them exclusive promotions and discounts through membership. They can present customized customer surveys so that restaurant owners and management can get much needed feedback. Specialized software can be added to include interesting factoids and helpful information. Tabletop POS tablets are here, and they have been met with nothing but outstanding praise, industry-wide.
Are you one of those people who always has the very latest technology, and not only does multifunctional operation come easy for you, but you pretty much already have it all figured out before you buy any new device or app? If this sounds like you, it’s OK if you choose to skip reading at this point. You probably already know everything that will be shared here. If, on the other hand, you are like the rest of us, read on. You probably stay committed to doing your best to keep current on technology, to your credit. What you may have discovered early on is that it is virtually impossible to live some semblance of a normal existence while vigilantly mastering a huge variety of high tech protocols that are always changing and being tweaked. Essentially, what anyone needs to learn about are only those dimensions that will in one way or another influence him or her, or be required to know in order to accomplish any task or responsibility the present and future may require.Everything else is just icing on the cake or good knowledge for up to date conversations with tech nerds at cocktail parties.
Sure, Everyone Experiences Nail-biting at One Time or Another
Most people (though not all will readily own up to it) tend to experience a little bit of “technology anxiety” with the advent of each new gadget, app or device. And that anxiety is usually multiplied when these same people find themselves in a situation where they need to learn how to use it. It is only by breaking the operational process down into small “bite sized” chunks that the whole can ever be easily digested. It is important to never lose sight of this, as we are now living in an era where technology is in an ever changing state, and the only way this could possibly change would be if somebody were to pull the plug. And this would only be a temporary hiatus, as it would not be long before everything would be back up and running with direct solar, wind or water power. So, while it’s healthy to recognize that we all can at times feel overwhelmed and under equipped, we can not let this defeat us. We must hold our places in the mainstream to the best of our abilities, and continue to float on our backs as much as possible, rather than switching to the butterfly stroke in desperation.
It is the dream of most people who enjoy dining out in restaurants to be able to be recognized and greeted at the same time by the host or maitre d’ of the establishment, just as soon as they arrive. Taking that ideology further, imagine the host who recognized you subsequently directing you to your favorite table, and after being seated, your server arrives at your table with your “usual” before dinner cocktails and your favorite appetizers, asking you to let him or her know when you want your main course to be served. Your favorite entrees, your favorite wines, your favorite after dinner coffee, your favorite desserts along with every single little detail of precisely how you like your pasta cooked to that special hot sauce that the chef makes for only a select few Details your server knowing that you prefer to have your dressing in a separate container, off to the side of your salad. Knowing that you like extra butter for your rolls, knowing that you prefer that the vegetables accompanying your entree be served on a separate plate and more.
Creating an Individualized Experience for Everyone, One Diner at a Time
All of these little details are what can make or break the ideal dining experience, and this is what POS technology is all about taking the guesswork out of all your transactions as a consumer or a business owner and creating a world in which it seems like everything was designed and orchestrated in accordance with your own highly individualized priorities. POS technology offers the most significant boon to the restaurant industry, as a leading player within the hospitality industry.
POS for More Fluid Living
Everyone appreciates when a merchant or staff member at an establishment where they shop acknowledges them, and this is one of the greatests benefits of POS technology. A business operating with the benefit of a POS system can eliminate a considerable volume of Q&A, because all of that information is safely and securely stored on a handheld unit that is carried by the clerk or server. Business or intimate dinner conversations can proceed without a bunch of interruptions from an inquiring server, as they can find answers to most of their questions on their device. And it is a real pride builder to take friends or clients to your favorite eatery, where they greet you and serve you with such individualized attention.
There are a number of business owners who jumped onto the POS bandwagon prematurely. Maybe it was because of the salesperson who might not have been a really good listener, or maybe they didn’t understand how there are certain distinctions that are highly beneficial for some operations, while others may be not so needed or beneficial for the specifications of others. If you are beginning to think that the POS system you purchased is in any way making your life more complicated, requiring you to maintain separate databases in order to keep track of daily transactions, what you may need is a system that is better for your specific business. A POS system for a startup business that is individually owned and operated something like a small boutique, certainly does not have the same needs as a larger business entity with more than one location and several employees. And even if you are just starting up your business with every hope to one day become wildly successful and widespread, you will only hamper those dreams if you start out with a POS system that is for a larger enterprise.
Get What You Need Today and More
The POS system you buy will become a tool that you learn to rely on for many elements of your accounting, advertising and relations with your employees and customers. While you definitely need to go with a system that can adequately take care of your current needs based on your company’s size today, you don’t want to invest your money and time into a system that you will only have to replace when your business begins to grow. There is good news: you have quite a few options with POS technology that will work well for your current needs, but will also be able to expand with your company in time, as its needs change. In buying your next POS system, invest in a form of technology that at its most modest point meets your business at the level where it currently is operating. From there, it’s all up and out.
Evaluating Your Current System
Do you find yourself needing to upload sales numbers into separate accounting systems, just so that you can run reports, update your inventory or analyze all the data as it corresponds to your business? Do you have a POS system that won’t directly interface with your store’s website? If you are spending more time jumping from system to system than you would expect to, just to try to build your business relations with your customers, maybe it’s time you started thinking about moving to an integrated system. Doing so will greatly aid in the effectivity of your operational costs, and you will discover a new level of functional efficiency with which to operate.
You might be just at the point where you are getting ready to take in your first dollar of proceeds, or you may have been the proud owner of a small boutique or store that is at a point of expansion. Both of these situations (among others as well,) are instances requiring you to address your POS system. At the heart of a POS system, you will find a combination of hardware and associated software for processing payments made to your business. Now, during the last couple of decades, the once highly standardized POS system has managed to crawl out of its silent anonymity of yesterday and emerge as the mechanism by which the success of any business finds its viability.
What POS Actually Means, Today
While POS is certainly nothing particularly new in concept, the technology has greatly expanded to the point where the new systems are highly intelligent, and are used for a myriad of interconnected purposes for operations beyond merely processing transactions. These newer systems use highly advanced software that provides the best inventory management, sales reports, customer databases, employee time sheets, and open up a world of marketing possibilities that include frequent customer incentives and rewards. With such an increasingly wide range of functionality for POS systems, shoppers really need to do their homework in order to find the right POS for their particular business size and needs. As revenue is at the bottom line of any business, the various forms of payment which your business takes in should be transacted by the most accurate method possible.
Determining the Functionality You Need
It may be time to look at your current method for processing payment transactions, and then from there, make a list of what factors are the most important to you in selecting the POS system for your every possible business need. Examine what is out there and every type of corresponding software that is available, and it should help you to decide on exactly how much POS capability you will effectively use. You may even want to take advantage of advice you can get from a consulting service preferably one that is not tied in with any particular POS manufacturer, in order to get the most non-biased help.
What Can a POS System do to Save You Money?
A good POS system will help any type of business to save substantial money. One way you can save right at the start is by assigning bar codes that reveal set prices to all of your inventory. This will wind up shaving a good chunk of time off of every product purchased by customers in the checkout line. Payment processing can be offered in many different manners, with stand-alone kiosks, countertop system arrangements and even by mobile, handheld devices. The POS system consistently tracks every single item of your inventory from the point where it is ordered, to when it arrives in your store when it is running low and time to be reordered and when it is sold. By being able to count on your POS system, you will easily recognize if and when merchandise mysteriously disappear, and there will be no reason for a discrepancy between actual sales and what the POS shows. This helps greatly to eliminate employee theft, either by deviously handled payment transactions or by discounts or freebies they might hand out. Your POS data reports will reveal to you exactly what is working and what isn’t. By focusing on the information your POS system will provide, you will gain a greater understanding of how you can best serve your existing customers while drawing new ones.
A lot of folks believe that retailers have it easy. All they have to do is buy the inventory, present it to potential buyers, sell it for a reasonably higher price than they paid for it, and boom, they make money, and the customer departs satisfied. While this may have been a somewhat accurate description of yesterday’s commerce, today’s consumers have evolved to be quite picky about every element of the process of shopping and buying. They have moved from simply needing to be “sold,” to needing to “experience” the process. We are living in a time where everything and every detail of all that we experience during anything we do is interconnected. This can, for the merchant, be highly pressure-producing from the many demands. Traditional brick and mortar stores and online stores are incorporating new methods for showing their products, and using a variety of methods. This includes mobile, TV, radio, away-from-home and all the different social media formats.
The Lines are Becoming Blurred
We are beginning to see that a growing number of consumers first shop in brick and mortar stores before then returning home where they make their actual purchase online. Then, on the other hand, there is a camp that goes about shopping conversely, by first looking online before heading out to buy from a real time physical store. As each format plays a part in influencing the other across the board, there is a proliferation of need for retailers to engage digital touch points, as they influence the purchases made by consumers. The bottom line? We now live in a new, non-linear, cross-channel world.
A New Direction That is a Requirement Needed to Stay Afloat
There is much effort and attention being directed to making significant investments of time and money by a substantial number of retailers to support this new reality. Included in these cross-channel presences are a strong online personality that stays well-traveled and current, and that links to every possible form of mobile and social media available. It takes such implementation to constructively build your own specialized branding and to generate new sources of revenue.
How This Can Best be Accomplished?
Multi-channeling is basically a combining of touch points that work together to enable a seamless customer experience. There is no way around the requirement of accommodating this critical change in thinking by any merchant who hopes to survive in such a highly charged market. This applies to online purchases that are for store pickup, customers returning their online purchases in the brick and mortar store, using their smartphone to get comparative pricing while they are in your store and using mobile coupons to shop in your store. There should not be any gaps or breaks in any of these areas for the seamless customer experience.
Practically every time you use your debit card for your purchase that is being transacted by POS technology, the banks charge POS fees. It’s not a commonly known fact, however it is important to understand that such charges typically apply during transactions where you are required to enter a PIN number, or when you choose the “debit” option on the payment machine where you are shopping. No such fees are added for purchases for which you sign your name, or when you choose the “credit” option on the payment machine. Now, not every bank charges POS fees, however you should check with your bank to find out if they do or don’t. If your bank does charge POS fees, consider signing for purchases instead of using your PIN. Somebody must pay a fee for these transactions, and even though you may not see it, it is most likely you who pays.
Online vs Offline Sales Transactions
Also affected by your choice between “debit” and “credit” are matters like the time it will take to process payment and your rights as a consumer. Payments where you enter your PIN are referred to as online transactions, and those for which you sign (or process as credit) are considered to be offline transactions. When you perform an offline transaction (by choosing credit or signing,) the retailer must pay a percentage of your total purchase, somewhere around 2%. This is paid to the bank that issued your debit or credit card, and it is an interchange fee. In contrast, online sales transactions are much less expensive for retailers, with their associated fees being only around 10 cents per transaction. While banks are thrilled when you choose credit, your choice hurts the merchant more, although there are some states in which merchants are allowed to pass along credit surcharges back to customers.
Banks Want You to Choose Credit
While it is not always obvious or even evident, banks give cardholders an incentive to use credit. These incentives are in different forms, such as airline miles or cash back options for every instance in which you pay by credit. On the flip side, they apply a penalty when you choose debit. This may be in the form of a fee charged for online transactions that might be in the range of a couple of dollars. It’s important to find out if your bank is charging you these fees and exactly what they are. chances are, you will subsequently want to always select “credit” for your purchases. Someone has to pay that 2% fee, and while it’s not always passed on directly to consumers, it often is added back into the price of the products and services you are buying.
At the heart of POS technology lies the impeccable management of every detail regarding your inventory, as well as your customers and employees. When you convert from the use of an antiquated (and soon to be obsolete) cash register system of processing sales over to a POS system, it is a bit of an investment for you – not only in terms of money, but also time setting up the new system. You may wonder if all the trouble is going to be worth it. The answer is resoundingly “yes,” as what you get with POS technology outshines, outperforms and out measures all previous forms of sales processing.
What do You Get With POS Technology?
Probably, the most significant advantage to be found from POS conversion is the abillity to have immediate, up to the minute status of your inventory. Accuracy is maintained, and there’s no lingering extra work to complete later on, as every element of the POS-processed sale is all recorded at the time of the sale. Each purchase results in the immediate reduction of your inventory of that particular item, and it is maintained on the system’s hard drive. Whether yours is a specialty kind of boutique, typically known to store significantly larger numbers of a somewhat limited number of items it sells, a department store with huge numbers of many different products or a smaller enterprise with a smaller volume of inventory, every item must be assigned an SKU number by which it is tracked. Some stores may have in excess of ten thousand pieces of one particular item, meaning just as many SKU numbers. Keeping track of all these items is known to be one of the more difficult aspects of small business management. With POS technology, store owners can consistently keep hard to find items in their store inventory, which will surely add up, in terms of sales and a competitive advantage.
Gain Immediate and Helpful Insights
With the right software, you can use your POS system to set a reorder point whereby you will receive an alert telling you that it’s time to reorder. Some systems will even tell you the most recent price you paid, as well as showing you the average price you have paid previously. This should give you a little edge with your suppliers. Then, during off hours, you can get a report giving you the inventory activity for that day, that week or even that month. Some systems will allow you to go back even further, to compare from year to year. This can be instrumental in determining your direction for the next year.
What to Look for
A good POS system should allow you to easily assess your inventory, and do a thorough job of it. It should provide the means by which you can set “running-low” alerts, easily and instantly add new items as they arrive, account for backorders and make POs to submit to vendors.