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How to Successfully Manage Multi-Store Retail Operations

How to Successfully Manage Multi-Store Retail Operations

Going from a single retail store to a multi-location operation comes with different business challenges. But, at the same time, it also comes with greater opportunities to reach more shoppers and grow your sales.

In fact, with the right technology and processes in place, managing several retail stores is a great way to start leveraging the benefits of scale.

In this blog post, we’ll take you through some of the steps you should take to ensure a smooth transition from a single store to a multi-store operation.

multi-store operations

Tips for managing multi-store operations

1) Run your retail operations in the cloud

Managing several retail stores at the same time requires more efficiency and flexibility in running your business. In particular, it requires a retail POS system designed for multi-store management. This is where new cloud POS technology comes in. 

Because cloud software isn’t tied to a specific device, as long as you have an internet connection, you can access your POS and the data you need to run your business from anywhere.  Whether you’re in store, on the go, at home, or even on vacation, checking in on your stores is as easy as logging in to your POS system from an internet browser.

Cloud retail POS technology also gives you access to centralized, real-time data across all of your retail locations. So important information such as stock levels, sales history, and customer information are always up-to-date. After all, in today’s competitive retail environment, shoppers expect stores to be able to access real-time stock levels across all locations.

Accurate data leads to less stock-outs and lost sales and ultimately, happier employees and customers.

2) Minimize staff turnover risks and simplify employee training with technology

You obviously can’t manage multiple store locations by yourself. So, it’s important to hire competent staff members that you can trust to take charge of different store operations while you are away.

But even if you hire the right people, the fact is, how you manage staff is just as important as who you hire. This is especially true once you have multiple locations.

It’s important for you to be able to trust your managers (and a great manager can make all the difference in a store’s performance), but unless your staff are tied to your business, there is always a chance that an employee will quit. And you need to be prepared for that day.

There are so many examples of companies that have over-relied on one or a few individuals that there is even a term for this: “Key-Person Dependency Risk“. This is a particularly big issue for small-to-medium businesses that often don’t have the resources for back-up personnel or even cross-training of staff.

This is where technology has been able to add real value in terms of minimizing the risk of over-reliance while, at the same time, freeing up staff from doing boring, routine tasks.

A well-managed company is never dependent upon the performance of one or a few individuals. As well, no employee should be allowed to hoard knowledge, relationships, or resources to achieve job security.

https://www.rightattitudes.com/2018/09/07/key-person-dependency-risk/

This is why it is crucial to consider the built-in security controls and training tools already in place when choosing a retail POS system. Almost everything in a modern retail business flows through a retail point-of-sale system. As such, your ability to manage the knowledge (e.g. reports, costing, margins, etc.) in your business greatly depends on:

  1. Your ability to track the actions and performance of your staff with your retail POS.
  2. Your ability to easily train new staff in different roles whenever there is turnover.

If you’ve worked in retail long enough to expand to multiple locations, you know the importance of POS and how costly it can be to manage and train staff to use a new point-of-sale system.

For retailers who deal with peak periods, long lineups, or high employee turnover rates, it is essential for merchants to consider the real cost of both onboarding and training over time. Because unless you never expect to lose any staff, you will always be re-training some employees.

While you may be tempted to choose the cheapest POS software option or the one with the simplest design, we always ask our customers to take a good look at the type of security and access controls they will have right from the beginning. It is very difficult to control the data of a retail business outside of the POS system and too costly (assuming it is even possible) to get custom features added to a standard system used by many other merchants.

It’s why we put so much time into the design of the access rights and training tools within our own POS. After all, while we design our software for user-friendliness, clean design cannot be simple to the point where it lacks real functionality. And in modern cloud-based POS, it’s possible for even feature-rich systems to be easy-to-use with properly designed UX and practical tools such as built-in product tutorials.

3) Implement standard operating procedures across all of your retail locations

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) ensure that business operations are consistent and predictable across all of your retail locations. Put simply, SOPs make managing a multi-store business easier – and they give your customers a consistent shopping experience. 

Standard procedures that should be established at each store include product returns and discounts, order policies, store, and security. Similar to access rights, the easiest and most common place to manage SOPs is through your POS system. So make sure to check if the POS system you’re considering has options to manage returns, discounts, cashouts, sales policies, etc.

4) Choose a retail POS that can scale with you

Many retailers make the mistake of investing in a new POS without thinking about business growth. There are many retail POS providers that restrict the number of users, inventory items or stores that can be added. Meaning that once your retail operations grow beyond a certain level, you must invest a considerable amount of money to upgrade your POS plan or switch to a new POS altogether. 

That’s why it’s important to choose a retail POS system that can scale with you and is built for multi-store operations! Look out for the following features when selecting a retail POS software for a growing business: 

  • unlimited stores, selling zones, and stock allocations 
  • the ability to scale faster by cloning settings for new stores
  • automated tax calculations based on geographical location 
  • multi-currency and multi-language settings
  • the ability to handle high transaction and inventory volume (this is especially important for high traffic retailers) 
  • built-in training resources for faster onboarding
multi-store management

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Multi-platform: Retail POS for any device

Multi-platform: Retail POS for any device

Nowadays, retail store owners need the flexibility to work anywhere, anytime. In fact, you should be able to easily turn any web-enabled device into a POS station. With the introduction of multi-platform point-of-sale software, retailers now have the ability to do just that.

Keep reading to learn what a multi-platform retail point-of-sale system is and how you can sell anywhere, on any device.

What is a Multi-Platform POS Software?

Multi-platform point-of-sale is a type of software that works on any web-enabled device, regardless of the operating system. This means a software that works on your desktop, tablet or mobile phone, even if they are a mix of Windows, iOS, Mac OS or Android devices.

multi-platform

Benefits of Multi-Platform POS Software

  • Cost savings, re-use existing hardware: If you are looking for a retail point-of-sale system with a low upfront cost, investing in a multi-platform point-of-sale system is the way to go. Because it can work on any web-enabled device, you don’t have to spend time or money replacing your existing hardware.
  • Sell more with mobile POS: With the ability to sell on mobile, tablet or desktop devices, virtually any place inside of your store can be turned into a checkout point. And because multi-platform POS systems can be used on existing devices, it’s faster and cheaper to set-up temporary checkout points during high traffic and rush hours to prevent long line-ups.
  • Continue selling even when your internet goes down: Nowadays, credit and debit payments are the most popular payment methods. While some POS systems offer offline capability, because modern PINpads cannot work without an internet connection, even if you can use your POS, you will still lose sales as few shoppers carry cash today. The future of retail POS is multi-platform as merchants now need to have the ability to switch devices seamlessly. With the TAKU platform, it’s as easy as signing in to your POS on a mobile device with data to continue ringing in sales.
  • Improve customer experience: Employees can serve customers and process transactions from anywhere in the store resulting in shorter lines and better customer service.
  • Scale cost-effectively, faster: Multi-platform POS systems allow you to scale easily. As any web-enabled device can be turned into a station, growing your retail business is easy and inexpensive. 
  • Sell wherever your customer is: Multi-platform POS is ideal for merchants who operate on different sales channels. Easily sell in-store, on-the-go or online. Don’t miss any sales opportunities.

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Inventory Management 101: What are SKUs?

Inventory Management 101: What are SKUs?

A SKU (pronounced “skew”) stands for Stock Keeping Unit and is used by retailers to both identify inventory and keep track of inventory movement. 

It is basically a unique combination of numbers and letters assigned to each product in a retail store. As a retail owner, SKUs give all of your products a single type of code to help you keep track of certain details for a specific product including price, product information (colour, size, features, etc.), quantity, and manufacturer. SKUs are often associated with vendors or supplier barcodes but can they can also be converted into scannable barcodes and printed on to product labels.

A retail POS system is the software that holds all of this inventory information so that you can track what you’re buying, how much stock you’re carrying and whether stock movement matches what you’ve sold. Whenever you’re looking for a new retail POS system make sure to check if the software will allow you to use your existing SKUs and also generate consecutive SKUs for new products. This is particularly important if you integrate to other non-POS systems (e.g. accounting systems) based on your SKU names. 

SKUs vs GTINs

SKUs should not be mistaken for Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) or Universal Product Codes (or UPCs). SKUs are internal codes used for products that are unique to a retail business. On the other hand, GTINs or UPCs are the same for a product – no matter who/what store sells it.

product label

How are SKUs Made? 

Each retail store has a unique and specific process in place for choosing SKUs. This method is usually easy to understand and follow for retail staff. 

POS systems can help you create SKU codes based on a format that works for your business. For example, your SKU code can have a specific prefix or suffix together with a number that increases consecutively. For example, a SKU for your business might be FD-2340-GR. Others use shortcodes within their SKUs as an easy hint to staff so they don’t need to memorize numbers.

retail POS system

How are SKUs used?

Inventory management: Inventory/stock-takes should be done at regular intervals in retail; both for tax purposes and to ensure accurate inventory levels. 

When each product is assigned a unique SKU, inventory availability is easier to determine throughout the year. And when it comes time for a stock-take, SKUs make it easier to reconcile stock levels – so that actual inventory levels match inventory counts in your retail POS or inventory management system. 

inventory management

Stock replenishment: Making use of SKUs can help store owners identify reorder points and a minimum threshold – so when inventory hits a certain level, they are made aware that a new purchase order needs to be placed. 

These internal codes also help you identify the products that move faster. Meaning you only have to re-order when you really need to – resulting in reduced inventory holding costs. 

skus make for easier stock replenishment

Better customer experience: Have you ever walked into a store and seen a pair of shoes or a t-shirt that you liked – but it turned out that you needed a different size? In this case, retail employees usually scan the item’s barcode or label to see if they have your size in stock, either in the back stockroom or at a different location. 

This instance explains how SKUs are used within a retail system to improve customer experience. When products share a traceable type of code, you and your staff can more easily identify stock levels quickly so that more time is available to actually assist customers.

identify stock levels quickly

Identify profitable stock: SKUs are generally the easiest way for retailers to filter for specific and detailed product reporting – e.g. identifying best sellers and underperforming products by their SKU. When you combine this with merchandising and product categories or tags, business owners can more easily see the effectiveness of their store’s product mix. 

identify best sellers and underperformers

Identify inventory shrinkage: Inventory shrinkage in retail can be defined as the discrepancy that exists between the inventory quantity in a retailer’s POS system and the actual inventory in that store. In other words, it consists of the stock/product/inventory that goes missing due to human error, theft, damage, miscounting etc. 

Inventory management is key to combating shrinkage in retail. As stated in an inventory shrinkage article published by Forbes, “Without an active inventory process, you do not realize your losses until it is too late.” 

And properly designed and implemented SKUs are central to any good inventory management system. They are key to modern digital retail since they are necessary to share and track inventory information between different locations, systems, and sales channels.

SKUs help reduce inventory shrinkage

Did you find this article helpful?

We will be posting more inventory management tips in the upcoming weeks.

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Traditional VS. Cloud-Based Retail POS

Traditional VS. Cloud-Based Retail POS

If you are a retail store owner, and you’re looking to purchase a new POS system, you’re going to have to decide between a cloud-based or an on-premise software. A new POS system is a significant investment of both time and money which is why it is so important to do research to find the best option for your retail business. 

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between the two types of software and the advantages and disadvantages of each. 

What is a Traditional POS System?

Traditional POS systems, also known as legacy or on-premise POS, store data on a local database. You can think of it in the same way as storing a report or document on your desktop computer – you can’t access it from anywhere else. 

What is a Cloud-based POS System? What is SaaS?

On the other hand, cloud POS systems store data in the cloud, meaning you can access it from anywhere with an internet connection. For example, think about using applications like Google Drive or Dropbox to store your data.

While “cloud” and “SaaS” are often used interchangeably, it’s important to remember that there are hybrid cloud solutions which are not 100% cloud-hosted. This is different from SaaS systems which are true cloud native applications – software that is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. This central hosting is what makes SaaS so cost-effective and easier to maintain compared to hybrid solutions.

Comparison of Traditional and Cloud-based POS Systems

Accessibility: As mentioned above, on-premise POS solutions have disadvantages compared to cloud-based POS when it comes to data accessibility. Since data is stored on a local server, you can only access data if you are on-site/in-store. In comparison, because you can access data anywhere with a cloud-based POS, you don’t have to be in-store to make changes to inventory, check sales reports, etc.

data accessibility

Cost: On-premise POS systems require a high upfront investment. If you add maintenance, hardware, and re-installation costs on top of the upfront fees, on-premise software can be quite expensive unless you are able to use it for an extended period of time.  

Cloud point-of-sale software usually requires very little upfront investment – instead, you pay a monthly subscription fee. Since updates are automatic and handled by the POS provider, there are no maintenance fees required either.

However, cloud POS providers charge based on a variety of factors including number of stores, employees, and inventory. That means that a cloud POS system can be quite costly as well if it is not built to scale with your retail store. If you are leaning towards signing up with a cloud POS software, it is a good idea to choose a POS that can grow with you.

POS cost

Updates: Traditional POS systems need to be manually updated and may require on-site technical support. Not only does this take up time and money, it can be disruptive as the POS system cannot be used while the update is being done. In comparison, cloud POS software comes with the added benefit of real-time updates which are usually run off-hours. Not only does this reduce maintenance costs and help ensure that your software is always up to date, it makes your software “future-proof” as your solution will keep improving over time.

POS Update

Hardware: With on-premise POS software, it is likely that you will be tied to specific hardware devices. This is due to the fact that you must pay a licensing fee for every device you wish to operate on. The more devices you have, the more costly it will be for your retail business to implement an on-premise solution.

Alternatively, with cloud POS software, you will not be tied to specific operating devices. Innovative cloud POS technology can function perfectly on any device from touchscreen monitors and iPads to mobile phones.

POS hardware

Data: Since traditional POS systems store data on a local server, there is a risk of losing all of your data if your system crashes, there is a software bug, or there is a disaster (e.g. fire, flood etc.). On the other hand, since cloud POS software automatically stores data in the cloud, your data will be safe in the instances above. At the same time, reliable POS providers will always use reputable cloud hosting service providers such as Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure to host their applications for both security and world-class reliability. 

POS data

We hope you found this article helpful. 

Stay tuned for more POS tips! 

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12 Features to Look for in a Retail POS System

12 Features to Look for in a Retail POS System

Owning the right POS system is essential to the success of any retail business. Today, a retail POS system can do much more than just handle payments and record sales – innovative POS technology now functions as a complete retail management system. 

In other words, a feature-rich retail POS system acts as a tool that enables you to both manage and grow your store.

But with so many different retail POS software in the market, how do you find the right one for your retail business?

Whether you’re looking for your first ever POS software or looking to upgrade to a new one, finding the right solution for your retail store doesn’t need to be difficult. 

In this article, we’ve broken down the most important features to consider when choosing a retail POS system. 

12 Key Features to look for in a Retail POS System

 

Point of Sale Features

Let’s begin by discussing all of the features needed in the sales portion of your retail POS. This covers all of the functionalities and features needed for a fast and easy checkout experience. 

grocery store checkout

1) Easy to Navigate Salesscreen: In order to ensure a fast checkout experience, it’s important to look for a POS system that is user friendly and designed for minimum clicksCashiers shouldn’t have to leave the salesscreen in order to complete a transaction.

2) Fast Barcode Scanning: Your retail POS system should be designed for quick scanning speed while giving you the ability to quickly recall your last search. It’s also important that your POS software can handle multiple barcodes per SKU (an internal code, a shortcode, a vendor code(s), and a manufacturer code). 

3) Advanced Inventory Search: Besides handling a high volume of inventory and transactions (read inventory features below), your retail POS software needs to have smart search functions. This will allow you and your employees to search for products by keyword, description, barcode or tag in case labels fall off or are not scannable. 

4) Inventory Management: Inventory is the most important asset you have as a retailer which is why it is necessary to track and keep an accurate count of all of your merchandise.

retail employee doing inventory check

The inventory management component of your retail POS will help you replace tedious methods of inventory control resulting in time, money, and effort saved.

5) Mobile AccessibilityMore and more retailers are recognizing the benefits of cloud technology and consequently, cloud POS adoption is growing at a significant rate. Cloud POS software stores data in the cloud giving you the benefits of remote accessibility, cost-savings, and real-time data accuracy. Click here to learn more about the benefits of cloud POS technology.

You’ll also want to make sure that your retail POS is completely mobile-friendly and can be run on any device. This will enable you to ring in sales anywhere in your store (e.g. on an tablet or mobile phone) which means a faster checkout experience for your shoppers.

6) Cross-Platform Access: Having a POS software that is compatible on any device is important for emergency instances when your store’s internet connection goes down. In the past, it was assumed that offline capability is the best alternative when internet access is down. But the fact is, credit and debit cards are the most popular payment methods for shoppers today, and PINpads won’t work without an internet connection.

Some systems offer the ability to store credit card details in the device until internet is back up but not only is it riskier to shopper payment details, you’re taking the chance of the stored payments not getting approved.

In today’s market, offline capability is not as useful as a smart POS platform that can be logged in from any device. When internet goes down, it’s as simple as securely logging in with a mobile device with data to continue ringing in sales.

7) User Access Rights: It is likely that you will have multiple people working in your business. Which means that your retail POS will need to be able to identify different users and give them tailored access to the system based on their role. User access rights also enable store owners to limit permissions on certain features in your POS (for ex: reports, etc.).

8) Scalability: Look for a POS software that will grow with you as your retail operations scale. Your retail POS should have the following features: the ability to handle high transaction and inventory volume, international tax settings, multi-currency handling, unlimited stores, selling zones and multiple stock allocations. 

These features will allow you to grow and scale with your POS software. Some cloud POS software have limits on the number of users and stores – meaning if you eventually outgrow your existing system, you will need to invest a considerable amount into upgrading or switching to another POS altogether

9) Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

customer relationship management

The CRM component of your retail POS software stores shopper information and allows you to better manage your customer base. It can generate huge benefits for your store – including better customer relationships, sales reports that allow you to make better business decisions and more efficient operations. These benefits ultimately lead to more sales.

10) Bulk Item Import: For fast POS onboarding, you will want to select a retail POS that can import all of your inventory and customer details. Otherwise you will be stuck manually uploading your inventory – which is an extremely tedious and time consuming task.

11) Built-In Training Tools: Smart POS systems today will have self-service functions such as built-in chat support, online knowledge portals and even step-by-step guided products tours. Not only does this minimize your onboarding costs, it ensure that staff can quickly learn how to use the system at their own convenience.

12) Marketing Integrations: Traditional point-of-sale systems are essential to retail operations management but modern cloud POS systems are data-driven which means you can now use your retail store data to drive digital marketing. A POS that has built-in marketing tools will allow you to streamline your marketing efforts so that you can sell more. For example, a POS that integrates to Google will help your retail business appear higher up in search results – resulting in more local foot traffic and sales.


TAKU Retail POS is designed for high traffic retailers looking to increase foot traffic to their physical stores. Join our beta waitlist here

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