The retail industry has come a long way; retailers have gone from clunky cash registers and legacy systems to a single software that allows them to sell everywhere.
In fact, with the technology available to retailers today, store owners can run their entire business with just a tablet or smartphone. Using a mobile device and a cloud-based retail system like TAKU Retail, retailers now have the ability to sell anywhere inside their store, outside their store (e.g. pop-up shops, trade shows or events), and online 24/7.
Which means that the first step to selling everywhere is finding the right retail POS software for your store.
In this blog post, we’ll take you through the key features to look out for so you can easily start selling on every channel without any extra work.
1. Real-time Inventory Management
Selling in multiple sales channels (e.g. in-store, online, and social media) requires retailers to keep an accurate count of inventory across the board. So whether you have inventory at your storefront, a warehouse, or at a pop-up event, you need a way to easily track your on-hand quantity. However, many POS systems are designed to handle sales and inventory in only one channel and managing things separately can get increasingly complex, especially as you add online sales channels or multiple physical locations.
A multi-channel POS software can help you manage inventory anywhere you sell or stock your products. Not only does this make inventory tracking easier, but it also makes fulfilling orders across all channels quicker and more efficient.
With modern cloud technology, retailers can easily manage stock across all locations and channels while keeping shoppers happy by minimizing stock-outs. Complete stock visibility means that you can adjust purchasing needs as sales happen (not just after the fact) so that you always have the most suitable inventory in stock.
When assessing POS vendors, look out for the following:
Being able to manage all customer sales and returns in one place: As omnichannel shopping has increased due to the pandemic, so has the rate of returns. This is particularly true with online sales which can have return rates of up to 40% compared to traditional in-store return rates. In order to minimize your overall return costs, your POS system should be able to easily manage transactions across multiple channels – e.g. by offering in-store returns or exchanges on online orders to avoid losing sales or paying double the processing fees.
Customer profiles: Most POS software helps you collect in-depth contact information both for marketing purposes and to help you learn more about your customers.
Customer transaction history: Being able to quickly access a customer’s transaction history gives retail associates the ability to offer on the spot recommendations, increasing up-selling and cross-selling opportunities.
3. Consolidated Sales Metrics and Reporting
On top of managing inventory and customers, POS software provides valuable information that store owners can use to make data-driven decisions about their retail business.
Modern POS systems make it simple to see analytics across all channels of your business, both individually and across your entire business as a whole. This can help you see what’s working and what isn’t, helping you be more flexible and adapt quickly to changes in the retail environment. At the same time, your POS solution should make it easy for you to manage sales taxes across on sales channels.
Here’s what to look for when assessing POS options:
Sales data by each location and across all stores
Sales reports for both online and in-store sales
Sales broken down by day, weeks, and months
Sales per employee
Product reports – to see what is selling and what isn’t
Sales taxes across all sales channels
4. Marketing Integrations and Fulfillment Options
The right POS features can also help you make more sales. Today’s innovative solutions offer digital marketing integrations designed to meet the evolving needs of today’s shoppers, leading to increased sales for your business. For example, you can use your POS to showcase your products on Google and get right in front of nearby shoppers who are looking for the products you sell.
Providing different fulfillment options is another way to serve the needs of your customers. It’s important to look for a POS solution that offers flexible delivery and pickup options, such as:
Local delivery: This option allows retailers to fulfil orders in the same area where their business is located. It is particularly useful for retailers selling bulky or large products. Make sure you look for solutions that can handle proper zoning with scheduled deliveries if you’re using your own in-house delivery staff.
Shipping: As an added convenience, it’s a good idea to offer home delivery. This way, if an item is unavailable at a certain location, customers can have the product shipped directly to their home.
Buy online, pick-up in-store (BOPIS): A popular fulfillment option amongst customers during the pandemic, BOPIS allows customers to purchase items online and pick them up at a physical store or a third party location. Stores offering this fulfillment option have been able to minimize their packing costs while decreasing their rate of returns as customers can physically check the products they have purchased before leaving with their order
Once you have successfully built your digital storefront and your physical store and products can be found online, the next step will be taking payment for orders online. This is when you will want to focus your efforts on setting up your e-commerce site.
In this blog post, we’ll go over how you can quickly set up your online product catalog for customers to see on your website and to order from.
The importance of selling online post-COVID-19
Brick and mortar retailers who are looking to sell online usually face the same set of challenges including missing product descriptions and images, incorrectly setup products or a lack of funds, resources, or skills to manage an e-commerce store.
While these challenges often prevent traditional retailers from setting up an online store, the opportunities you miss by only selling in-store and not investing in an e-commerce site are far greater. As an increasing number of consumers shop online post-COVID-19, failing to provide an online checkout experience means you are missing out on potential customers and sales
The good news is, modern day e-commerce providers have made it easy to set up an online store as they simply re-use your existing POS products. In fact, retail platforms such as TAKU eCommerce are even able to enhance product data to make your product details more e-commerce ready and more searchable on Google. By re-using existing product details, merchants using TAKU, for example, have the ability to showcase their products and take payments online in just a few steps.
To show you what this looks like, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process of re-using your existing product catalog with TAKU eCommerce so you can quickly start taking payments online.
How to Start Selling Online with TAKU eCommerce
Many traditional retailers become discouraged at the thought of setting up an online store. However, depending on the platform, it is actually quite simple to get started.
Let’s see an example of how this works with TAKU eCommerce:
1. Decide where to add your shopping cart
As long as you are using TAKU, you have two options to quickly start selling online:
Automatically create an instant store which is a clean, easy-to-use, single page webstore that works in every screen size. This option is usually best for retailers who don’t have an existing website, need to replace an older looking site or want to just add a new Shop option linked to their store products.
Or alternatively, if you already have a WordPress informational website, you can add the TAKU eCommerce shopping cart as a WordPress plugin. This option is super fast and preferred for retailers that want their online store to automatically match the style of their existing WordPress site.
2. Add your products
Adding your products to your online store in TAKU is as easy as enabling them with a few clicks. But even if your product details are not complete (e.g. your products are very unique or require custom product descriptions or images) traditional brick and mortar retailers should not be held back from launching their online store. In fact, retailers should expect to launch an e-commerce site without their full product catalog in the beginning. As long as a retailer has, for example, 100 products with images and descriptions, she or he can still launch and add new products overtime, eventually building their full online product catalog. In comparison to a physical store, it’s perfectly reasonable to launch with several hundred products and add new ones every day. In fact, highlighting that “NEW items are being added daily” on your homepage is a great way to keep customers coming back.
3. Add Business Information
In general settings, make sure that your business information such as your store name, store address, phone number, work email address, currency, and language are all correct. With TAKU, some of this information is automatically available but you may want to customize it for your online store. For example, you may want to use your trade name vs. your legal business name.
4. Legal Information
5. Customize the look of your store
You can use any of the existing themes as they are or easily personalize your online store using the built-in options. Remember that TAKU eCommerce web stores are built to be completely mobile responsive so you don’t need to worry about how things will look on different screens – they will always look good on any screen size.
6. Check your web address
Every TAKU eCommerce store comes with a free web address in the form of “yourstore12345.company.site”. You can either use this free URL address, buy a new domain from a third party provider, or connect an existing domain that you already own.
7. Enable payments
TAKU eCommerce supports a variety of payment providers meaning that merchants can choose or setup the payment methods that best suit their business needs. This also gives merchants more freedom to negotiate with providers and lower payment processing fees/costs. While we always encourage retailers to take payment online to minimize the risk of losing the sale or shoppers not picking up products, with TAKU eCommerce, you can even include an option for Pay in Store. If this is your preference, you can complete the payment with TAKU when shoppers arrive in the store.
Once the steps above are complete, you’re ready to start selling online!
We hope you are now comfortable with the general steps involved when setting up an online store. In the next two blog posts and videos, we will discuss how you can add fulfillment methods such as contactless curbside pickup and local delivery.
The next step to building your digital storefront is to showcase your products online.
With the flexibility and accessibility of online tools, even if your brick and mortar store is closed, you’ll still be able to serve your customers. The best part is, these tools are easily accessible to retailers who are not selling online through an e-commerce website. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can list your products online.
1. Upload your products to Google
The COVID-19 pandemic has made shoppers limit their trips to physical retail stores. As a result, they are now checking in-store stock availability before visiting.
To make things easier for your customers, it’s a good idea to make real-time inventory data available on Google. This can be done manually or you can do so easily by using an integrated retail software such as TAKU Retail.
TAKU’s integration with Google also allows merchants to display their products through Google “See What’s In-Store” (SWIS). With SWIS, product catalogs appear under a merchant’s Google My Business listing. This feature helps retailers attract nearby shoppers by showcasing in-store products with real-time stock updates. The best part is – there is no data entry required when uploading products to Google with an integrated solution since your existing POS data is simply re-used.
2. Free and paid Google Products Listings
Once you’ve uploaded your products to Google and are showcasing your products through SWIS, you also have the option of using Google Product listings to further increase your online visibility to local shoppers.
What are Google Product Listings?
Google Product Listings, otherwise known as Google Shopping campaigns, help retailers put their products in front of shoppers who are looking for what they sell. Retailers can use Google Product Listings to promote their in-store products and boost traffic to their brick and mortar stores.
Below is an example of a Google Product Listing:
These listings showcase your products and store information to nearby shoppers who are searching on Google. Since they appear based on what local shoppers are searching for, Google Product listings attract high value shoppers. In other words, they showcase the right products to the right people in the moments that matter the most.
When shoppers click on a listing, they will land on a Google-hosted page for your store which displays your in-store inventory, store hours, directions, and more.
Google recently announced the launch of free product listings, making it easier for merchants to display their products online. Note: While free listings are only accessible to US merchants, an international rollout is expected by the end of the year. Now, search results in the Google Shopping tab will consist mostly of free listings, helping merchants connect with more shoppers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google.
Which means that even if you are not selling online, you can still showcase your in-stock products to potential customers.
TAKU Retail POS has partnered with Google to make it easier for merchants to get started with Google Product listings. By using TAKU, product feeds are automatically optimized and submitted through your POS. To learn more, click here.
3. Adding your products to social media
Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms with more than 2.45 billion monthly active users. Now, merchants can give customers an easy way to browse and purchase products with Facebook Shop.
Facebook Shop has expanded a great deal in the last few years and is used in 70 countries by 800 million people monthly, making it the perfect opportunity for retailers to showcase their products to millions of potential customers.
Again, you can upload products manually or with an integrated retail platform such as TAKU eCommerce that will automatically sync your in-store products to Facebook Shop. With an integrated system, your product catalog will sync every 12 hours once you have uploaded your products onto your Facebook page. This will ensure that your product information and stock levels are updated on a regular basis.
Depending on the type of products you sell, Instagram may be another essential platform for retail businesses. With more than 1 billion monthly users, your customers are already on Instagram. So make it easier for them to discover and browse your products with Instagram shopping. Essentially, Instagram Shopping allows merchants to transform their profiles into digital storefronts.
We hope Part 2 was helpful to you. To learn more about the last 3 steps to getting your physical store online, keep an eye out for the rest of our blog and video series.
To learn more about the next steps to getting your physical store online, keep an eye out for the rest of our blog and video series.
With the start of autumn, retailers are beginning to prepare for the most important sales period of the year – the holiday season.
Each year, the holidays usually present retailers with the same set of challenges – increased demand, in-store and online traffic surges, higher rates of retail crime, and supply chain pressures etc.
But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 holiday season is going to be different. The signs of a second wave means that merchants face new obstacles after arguably the toughest retail season in recent history. From physical distancing restrictions to changing consumer behaviour and a deepening recession, the next few months are full of uncertainty.
Supply chain disruptions are inevitable: factors related to COVID-19 are expected to constrain shipping capacity, resulting in delivery delays.
Shoppers are now looking for safer, digitized ways to shop in-store which means that retailers need to rely on digital strategies in order to stay relevant to their customers. Below, we discuss key trends and how retailers can respond and plan for a successful holiday season.
How Retailers can Prepare for the 2020 Holiday Season
Whether you’re just starting out or have been selling online for a while now, you need to invest in your “Digital Storefront”. But what is a digital storefront? Your digital storefront is how your business is represented online. Sometimes it is referred to as “online presence” or “web presence”. It’s very similar to the concept of a real storefront in the physical world – the way people walking by your store would see your signage out front, or where you are located in the neighbourhood. A digital storefront is the electronic representation of your business on the internet. While some might combine digital storefronts with e-commerce, we deliberately keep it separate because there are multiple stages to “being online”.
Many businesses are worried about digitizing as they are worried about the amount of time it will take to start going online. But it’s important to remember that “digitization” can actually be broken down into 5 steps and it’s possible for merchants to move online one-step at a time.
Invest in your Digital Storefront
With the potential of pandemic-related restrictions, it is crucial for retailers to be discoverable online this holiday season. Given the likelihood that the growing customer preference for shopping locally will continue into the holidays, retailers should take advantage of digital marketing strategies that target nearby shoppers.
Google My Business: The first step of going online isn’t about selling online immediately. It’s about making sure that your business can be found online by local shoppers. Make sure that you take full advantage of all available foot traffic by keeping up-to-date store hours and contact details online. You can keep this updated yourself manually or manage it directly in an integrated point-of-sale solution.
Google Retail Listings: Even if you’re not selling online yet, you can show potential shoppers what you carry in-store. Consider using an integrated all-in-one retail management platform such as TAKU to show what’s on your shelves with automated product feeds that show exactly what’s in stock without any extra work. And if you’re in an area that already offers it, integrated merchants can unlock valuable free advertising with free Google Retail Listings that show up based on what nearby shoppers search for online.
Invest in your Online Store
Being found by local shoppers is half the battle. But the pandemic has more people shopping online for the first time for products that they would normally buy in-store. Of course, depending on the type of store you have, starting an online store may not be that easy. Common issues faced by physical stores looking to sell online include:
Lack of funds, resources or skills to manage an e-commerce store
Heavy, fragile or regulated products that are unsuitable for shipping
Uncompetitive pricing and offers compared to large retailers such as Amazon
Inaccurate inventory quantities
Lack of store POS integration options
Yet according to Google, 1 in 4 shoppers went online during the lockdown to purchase something they would normally buy in-store. As a result, some retailers experienced holiday-like traffic and sales via online channels during the first quarter of 2020.
This indicates that during the pandemic – and likely once it’s over – if your store doesn’t offer online checkout, you will lose access to an increasing number of online shoppers.
At TAKU, the founders have all worked in retail and support retailers every day. We understand the struggles of trying to operate while understaffed. But just as there are ways to more easily manage your digital storefront, there are things that every retailer can do to start selling online step-by-step including:
Expect to launch with fewer products and add new items over time to build your full online product line. Many traditional merchants think that selling online is the same as loading the shelves of a physical store. And so, many of them will hold back from launching their online stores until all of their products are properly loaded with great images. If you’re running an established business, you know how long it took to build your existing product listing. So naturally, it can take a much longer time than expected to prepare product information for an online store. But in comparison to a physical store, it’s perfectly reasonable to launch with several hundred products and add new ones every day. In fact, telling customers that “NEW items are being added daily!” can be a great way to remind them to keep coming back.
Selling online doesn’t equal delivery. E-commerce is often associated with online orders for shipment but e-commerce can just be used as a way to take orders online. Delivery to local customers can be expensive (the cost of packing orders, shipping costs and the risk of damages) and a poor experience for the customer (packages frequently delayed in transit during the pandemic). Shipping online orders can also be a hassle for busy stores when you don’t have store space and materials to pack orders. This is why we often recommend that merchants start with curbside or in-store pick-up in the beginning if they don’t have the resources to handle packing, shipping issues or even local delivery.
Use e-commerce to drive store traffic. Many of our customers are established stores that have a great local customer base. Don’t encourage customers to ship products at the expense of your physical store. Encourage them to visit the store or pickup so that you can offer customer service and showcase impulse items to increase your margins.
Retailers looking to prepare for the surge in online traffic this holiday season should focus on their omnichannel strategy. This means:
having a flexible and scalable solution that will help provide shoppers with a seamless shopping experience across all channels – from online and social media to in-store.
increasing ecommerce site performance – 91% of shoppers leave an ecommerce site if the pages are too slow to load.
moving legacy systems to the cloud to accommodate higher traffic and generate higher sales. Cloud retail POS software gives retailers the flexibility to scale their operations up or down with demand peaks. And they can do so without costly upfront investments or software updates that often come with traditional legacy systems.
Optimizing website performance by focusing on the customer experience.
Improve Inventory Visibility Across all Channels
The customer journey has become increasingly omni-channel due to the pandemic. Shoppers are now using more devices to browse and are expecting contactless ways to purchase and receive their products. Specifically, the COVID-19 outbreak has given rise to new fulfillment methods such as curbside pickup, in-store appointments, contactless local delivery, and “click-and-reserve”.
With the rise in new fulfillment methods and omni-channel shopping, retailers need to improve their inventory visibility. Earlier this year, stock-outs of high demand products caused searches for “in-stock” products to grow globally by 70%. This means that customers are looking for real-time updates on store product availability.
Modern cloud software can provide real-time updates on stock levels across all channels, improving inventory accuracy and helping retailers avoid the risk of stock-outs and excess merchandise.
Prepare for Traditional Delivery Providers to Exceed Capacity
Retail experts are predicting that the ability for products to arrive on time this holiday season will be constrained by factors related to COVID-19. These factors include a surge in online orders and the implementation of social distancing measures in distribution centers.
As we saw earlier in the pandemic, surges in ecommerce impacted shipping capacity and delivery windows, creating big supply chain disruptions. Retailers need to prepare for this possibility as to not risk customer aggravation with gifts not arriving in time for the holidays.
Store owners can prepare for delivery issues by doing the following:
Providing real-time inventory visibility across all channels, as discussed earlier.
Use stores as fulfillment centres. Train employees to be fulfillment gurus – this includes training them to both pack and deliver parcels locally.
Incentivize customers to use contactless fulfillment options rather than shipping. Make sure to communicate with customers about alternative fulfillment options early on and pass on cost savings.
The unprecedented nature of this year is expected to produce a holiday season unlike the past. Retailers can prepare by adapting to new consumer channels and shopping habits, as outlined in this post.
With most businesses back on their feet and not just relying on online sales to keep them afloat, retailers can start thinking of ways to drive foot traffic back to their stores.
Having said that, traditional methods of driving foot traffic may not be as effective as before. With safety and cleanliness being the main concern of most shoppers, experience-based strategies such as in-store events and classes are no longer practical as they once were pre-pandemic.
That’s why we’ve put together 5 strategies to help store owners drive foot traffic in a post-COVID-19 retail environment. Check them out below.
1. Focus on Health & Safety
Shoppers don’t want to feel at risk of contracting COVID-19 when they enter your store. So if you want more customers to shop at your physical store, you need to make them feel like it is safe to do so.
You can build trust with shoppers by visibly cleaning and sanitizing your shop, providing staff (and if possible customers) with masks, and placing hand sanitizer throughout the store. It is also a good idea to limit the amount of shoppers allowed inside at a given time. Consider placing social distancing markers or decals on the floor. This will help ensure that customers are following social distancing guidelines once they enter your store.
For more information on how to implement health & safety measures post-COVID-19, download our checklist here. Depending on the demographics (e.g. a lot of your customers are seniors) in your area and the space available in your store for people to socially-distance themselves while shopping, you may want to consider a mandatory mask policy. These can be controversial and must be implemented and managed carefully to minimize potential friction. Learn more about how to manage and implement mask policies in your store.
Don’t forget to take advantage of digital channels (social media, SMS, email) to communicate with shoppers. This way, customers will be aware of the health and safety measures you have in place and will be more comfortable coming to your store.
Remember – generating store foot traffic during the pandemic is not just about being the trendiest, cheapest, or most unique brand, it is about appearing safe.
2. Double-down on Google
Hundreds of millions of shoppers use Google everyday to start their product searches, making it the ideal place to list your merchandise.
Merchants in the U.S. can now access this feature for free while an international rollout is expected by the end of the year.
TAKU Retail POS has partnered with Google to make it easier for retailers to automatically sync and optimize their product listings. With TAKU, merchants can choose to send their existing POS product information with the built-in feature to unlock the free product listings. Because this is a built-in integration right in the POS, there’s no data entry required. To learn more, click here.
TAKU’s integration with Google also allows you to display your product catalogue online through Google’s “See what’s in store,” a free showcase directly below your Google store listing. SWIS lets you display your store’s stock and products online with real-time stock updates, attracting nearby shoppers to your store.
As the saying goes, showing up is half the battle. Shoppers need to know when your store is actually open. A shopper that shows up to a closed store because the opening hours listed for your business on Google Maps are outdated likely won’t be back. Make sure you have a verified Google My Business (GMB) store listing and keep your store hours up-to-date. If you’re not using GMB yet, do it right away as it’s the best free online marketing tool available to small businesses. For more information, check out our blog post about why retailers need Google My Business.
Contactless payments are not only convenient, they also provide retailers with a safe and secure way to take payments in-store. Throughout the pandemic, contactless transactions have increased and even become a preferred payment method among consumers. Offering contactless payment will help customers feel safer when purchasing as they don’t have to touch high contact surfaces such as PIN pads or checkout counters.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for contactless payment and pickup methods has significantly increased and stores that offer them will be more attractive to customers when they’re choosing where to shop.
One thing to remember though, is that contactless payments may not be EMV and therefore you may be liable for chargebacks. Prior to the pandemic, merchants would generally set their contactless limits at $50 to $100 per card per day but since March, many retailers have opted to increase the limit to make it easier for customers to buy more when they are in-store. But higher tap limits will increase the chance that those merchants will be responsible for higher-value chargebacks. Make sure to check with your merchant processor regarding liability and what you can do to protect yourself if you ever need to appeal a chargeback (e.g. getting signatures, installing CCTV cameras, etc.) if you are considering adding contactless for the first time or increasing your contactless daily limits.
4. Buy Online, Pickup In-store
For customers that are not comfortable shopping in-store, you can create a contactless retail experience with buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) or pickup at curbside. Shoppers can use your website to browse items, pay online and simply drive to your location when their order is ready for pickup. Once it is safe to offer in-store pickup in a safe, efficient manner, this is always our recommended fulfillment option for retailers that have physical stores. In-store pickups are not only more cost-effective (e.g. no packing or shipping costs), they generally have lower return rates since people can check products prior to pickup and, most importantly, they can lead to higher-margin impulse buys when shoppers see other products they might want to purchase once they are in your store. This is why it is important for retailers to plan carefully where they will place their pickup location in-store. It should be a location that allows shoppers to feel safe (e.g. allows enough space for social distancing) while making it convenient for them to see and pick up additional items quickly.
To make it easier for their staff, retailers should consider enabling staggered pickup times at checkout. This way, long lines and crowds can be avoided as customers must make an appointment to pick up their purchases. All-in-one sales platforms such as TAKU have a built-in function in their online store builder to allow shoppers to choose a pickup date and time at checkout.
5. Exclusive In-store Promotions
Running in-store promotions is a tried and tested way to drive foot traffic. However, retailers need to be strategic about how they run promotions so that they can maximize profitability. Using promotions to generate foot traffic can be done by creating exclusive in-store offers which incentivize customers to come to your store rather than shop online.
The following are some promotional strategies retailers can use:
Exclusivity with Private In-store Appointments – this strategy works particularly well if you are selling higher-value products that can benefit from having a sales associate involved to answer any questions
Exclusivity with In-Store Promotions – use your email marketing lists and social media posts to promote special offers to your best customers with limited time/quantity in-store only promotions specifically for them
In-Store Bundle Discounts – this strategy is particularly useful when you have excess stock you are looking to get rid of but want to ensure a minimum basket size in-store
Surprise In-Store Markdowns – random markdowns such as “score of the week” are effective in attracting both new and returning customers. These promotions are usually less risky as you know exactly how the discount will affect your margins. A smart POS system can analyze in-store promotions, allowing store owners to see trends and margins.
Conditional In-Store Offers – examples include spend a certain amount and get a free item, buy a certain item and save a percentage off your entire order etc.
We hope you found this article helpful!
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The Coronavirus pandemic – and the shift in the way consumers shop, work, and live – has drastically changed how things are done across different sectors of the economy.
And retail is no exception. Due to the pandemic, there has been a 15-30% increase in consumers who purchase online. Consumers have also increased their use of different sales methods such as contactless payment, curbside pickup, virtual consultations, and even social commerce (purchasing products through social media). According to retail experts and shopper surveys, this new behaviour is here to stay.
To survive the pandemic and meet the new expectations of shoppers today, merchants need to use modern POS technology that will allow them to quickly adapt to market changes (e.g. future lockdowns) and easily sell both in-store and online. The need for flexibility is why retailers today are increasingly relying on cloud POS technology.
What is a Cloud POS solution?
A cloud POS system is a point-of-sale solution that doesn’t need to be installed anywhere. Instead of maintaining a server computer in your physical store, cloud POS companies host your information on secure third-party services such as Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure. This is in contrast to traditional POS systems which can only be installed and/or used on specific devices.
At first glance, having your information stored elsewhere might seem scary. But cloud-based systems have a lot of major advantages in the current shopper environment when compared to installed software. In particular, they are a lot more cost-effective and flexible. These characteristics make a huge difference during these uncertain times and are key reasons why more merchants are switching to cloud-based systems than ever before.
Our team has been supporting and building software solutions for retailers for a long-time now. Until the pandemic started, multi-location retailers were the businesses most likely to look at cloud-based POS. This makes a lot of sense since the sharing of information between different stores is much harder with traditional POS systems. But today, the pandemic has significantly increased the demand for online sales options across all sectors. This means that, to survive, even a retailer with only a single physical store needs to manage sales, customers and inventory between in-store and online sales channels.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the main benefits of replacing your traditional retail POS with a cloud-based system.
The Benefits of Cloud Technology for Retailers Post-COVID-19
As traditional shoppers are increasingly buying online for delivery or pick-up, retailers need to keep track of inventory in ever more places. This is a major headache for many retailers as online sales channels are often handled separately with traditional POS systems. But keeping track of inventory history and stock levels everywhere you sell is critical as stock-outs mean upset customers and lost sales.
A lot of traditional POS solutions have “cloud” options but many of these are clunky, remote workarounds that don’t sync inventory across storefronts in real-time, often break down or require expensive third-party tools and technical support to fix.
With demand levels fluctuating throughout the pandemic, managing inventory using traditional systems that are separate or sync on a timer can be a serious drain on resources and finances. And the pandemic has made it even harder for merchants to afford the staff necessary to manually manage inventory or check stock levels because the numbers in the system can’t be relied upon.
With a modern cloud-based retail POS platform, today’s retailers have the ability to do all of the following within a single software:
share the same products across all locations and digital channels
split the same product stock quantities by store, website or warehouse
easily create new stores or stock splits to re-allocate inventory at any time
give staff the ability to check all locations for real-time product availability
control exactly how much access staff have to see costs and inventory details
fulfill sales across all channels quickly for delivery or pickup with ease
buy online, pay in-store during pickup
handle buy online, return in-store
minimize stock-outs because you can quickly adjust purchasing or move stock quantities around as sales happen, not after the fact
A cloud-based retail system provides greater mobility which basically means that retailers can sell from anywhere inside the store, outside the store or online 24/7. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that retailers need this kind of flexibility in their business. During the recent lockdowns, retailers with access to their POS systems from anywhere were able to immediately work from home or take payments outside of their stores to offer curbside pickup.
Modern systems such as TAKU Retail can function on any device which makes it even more cost-effective for retailers to adopt. True cloud systems are not tied to any specific device. Where earlier cloud systems are limited to only a single type of hardware (e.g. iPads), the latest cloud POS systems allow retailers to use any existing web-enabled devices (e.g. Windows or Mac computers, Android or Apple smart devices) together. This type of flexibility helps merchants reduce the overall cost of hardware, even as they grow, since almost any existing device can be turned into a station.
And accessibility doesn’t refer only to selling or accessing reports. While older installed or cloud systems only give retailers access to specific functions, true cloud systems give you full access to all of the features in the software so you can run your business from anywhere. Accessibility also includes managing access rights all from one dashboard. If you’re a larger retailer, you should be able to quickly manage (or revise) the access rights for each staff member across all devices wherever you happen to be working.
3. Manage shoppers from every channel in one dashboard
While the Coronavirus pandemic will pass, changes in consumer shopping habits are here to stay. Retail consumers are now shopping locally, cost-consciously, and digitally. Being there for your customers wherever they are is often called “omnichannel” retail or “unified commerce”. And shoppers that are using multiple sales channels are likely to continue to do so.
What’s important to remember is that being omnichannel is about more than simply taking sales in all channels. It’s about providing a consistent experience for shoppers across all touchpoints. It means making it easier for shoppers to find you, buy from you or even bring something back to you. There’s no doubt that taking orders online is important to the survival of a lot of retailers during the pandemic. Similar to the value behind impulse buying in-store, the average order size of omnichannel customers are often higher because you have more opportunities to engage with your shoppers across different channels.
Another thing to keep in mind is that online sales naturally come with higher return rates as shoppers make mistakes or shipments are damaged. Being able to manage all of your sales and returns across all channels in one place is important to minimize returns and to minimize the costs of these returns – e.g. by offering in-store returns or exchanges to avoid losing sales or paying double the processing fees.
Many retailers experienced significant growth in online sales and curbside pickup during the pandemic. In fact, in some essential sectors, traditional stores were unable to keep up with the demand as they struggled to handle the sudden boost in traffic.
As your business grows and becomes more complex, your retail management system must be able to accommodate new stores, new sales channels, new employees, and new product lines without any limitations. A flexible unified commerce system will have the built-in options required for you to adapt as your business grows. This includes functions such as unlimited physical stores, unlimited back office users, unlimited stock quantity allocations and customizable tax rules. With customizable settings, fast onboarding support and transparent pricing, modern cloud systems offer retail owners a flexible tailored solution that can easily scale without hidden costs.
With shopping behaviour shifting constantly throughout the pandemic, being able to track, manage, and engage with customers across all channels is key for long-term success. An all-in-one retail sales system such as TAKU Retail allows you to handle all of your touchpoints from in-store shopping and curbside pickup to local delivery, all in one platform. It allows retailers to be flexible with their business processes and adapt quickly when the environment changes.
With traditional systems, data is isolated between the different sales channels. In comparison, cloud-based systems give merchants access to consolidated retail data which makes it significantly easier for them to see trends as they happen in real-time.
Built with next-generation technology, modern cloud platforms are even able to help retailers leverage their own retail data to attract more shoppers. As the first POS company to be a Trusted Google Partner, TAKU is the first platform in the industry to automatically help retailers be found online by people searching nearby for what they sell. And so, not only can cloud POS systems increase sales when shoppers are engaged, they can now help retailers get in front of shoppers before they even leave their homes.
Make sure you’re using retail technology that can keep up with the rapidly changing market. Make the switch to cloud today – it’s easier than you think. Whether you prefer to set up everything yourself or would like to work with migration experts, leading cloud systems today have modern tools to make data migration and training faster than ever.
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