To keep up with shoppers today, merchants need a modern cloud POS software that will allow them to quickly adapt to market changes and easily sell both in-store and online. Cloud technology offers that flexibility.
The Coronavirus pandemic changed the way that consumers shop, work, and live. Retail is no exception. In 2020, over 80% of consumers shopped at least once online. Since the pandemic, there have been new sales strategies that retailers are adopting 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 behavior is here to stay.
What Is Cloud POS Software?
A cloud POS system is a retail management software 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 different to traditional POS systems which can only be installed and/or used on specific devices.
Cloud-based systems has advantages in the current shopper environment when compared to installed software. Some obvious advantages are its flexibility and affordability. These characteristics make a huge difference during uncertain times and are key reasons why more merchants are switching to cloud-based systems than ever before.
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. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increased the demand for online sales options. For retailers with only a single physical store, this means that they need to manage customers and inventory between in-store and online sales.
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 POS Software For Retailers Today
As traditional shoppers are increasingly buying online for store pick-up or delivery, retailers need a solid strategy to keep track of inventory, This can be stressful for retailers since online sales are often handled separately from traditional POS systems. Keeping track of inventory history and stock levels everywhere you sell is critical as stock-outs can lead to 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 locations in real-time, often break down, require expensive third-party tools and technical support to fix.
With uncertain demand throughout the pandemic, managing inventory can be difficult with traditional systems. This is because these systems are sometimes separate or sync only once a day can be a serious drain on resources and finances. The pandemic has also made it even harder for merchants to afford the staff necessary to manually manage inventory or check stock levels because the quantities in the POS system aren’t accurate.
With a modern cloud-based retail POS platform, retailers are able 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 online sales from stores for pickup or delivery with ease
buy online, pay in-store during pickup
buy online, add more / exchange / 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 POS 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 during order 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. Similar to how people sharing a Netflix account can watch shows on Windows or Mac computers, Android or Apple smart devices, people selling using a cloud POS can work off of any of these 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. This 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”.
What’s important to remember is that being omnichannel is about more than simply making sales in all channels. It’s about providing a seamless experience for shoppers. 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. But in the long-term, omnichannel retailers are more profitable because they have more opportunities to engage with their shoppers across different channels. And omnichannel drives higher-margins in-store sales together with the convenience of online 24/7 shopping.
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 from stores 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 store 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 splits 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 behavior 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 cloud POS software allows you to handle all of your touchpoints from in-store shopping and curbside pickup to local delivery, all under a single login. It allows retailers to be flexible with their business processes and adapt quickly when the environment changes.
With traditional systems, data needs to be manually managed between different sales channels. In comparison, cloud-based systems give merchants access to shared 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. Not only can newer 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 world post-pandemic. Make the switch to cloud today – it’s easier than you think.
Want to know how TAKU can help you sell anywhere and at anytime?
October to December marks the peak shopping season for retail stores. It’s a time when many retailers plan for an increase in shoppers. As the world moves out of the global pandemic, retailers need to be ready for customers with new shopping behaviors.
According to a Google study, 70% won’t consider purchasing something without seeing it online: whether it is an ad, browsing through a website, social media, or email newsletter. This means that retailers need to start ramping up on their online efforts early: whether it is sending weekly newsletters or updating social media on a regular basis, “online storefronts” are more important than ever to shoppers.
People often flip between discovery (window-shopping) and shopping (looking for products mainly based on functions or features) until they are ready to make a purchasing decision. Of the two, discovery is more emotional and can often override the rational thinking behind shopping. Which is why online “pre-shopping” discovery is so important to the entire shopping process now.
A Statista survey showed that up to 50% of people are planning to do their holiday shopping in-stores. This means that retailers need to be ready to showcase new merchandise and discounts online to shoppers even before they make it to the stores.
In 2020, up to 79% of people left their holiday shopping until one-week before Christmas. This is good news for retailers because they are able to push their efforts to the very last minute. The same study showed that 64% of shoppers planned to shop in-stores. After more than a year of restrictions, people are eager to get out. This is great for physical stores that are able to target shoppers when they’re nearby.
Convenience plays a huge role in purchasing decisions today. “Now near me” searches have grown 100% worldwide. Options for store-managed e-commerce have also increased a lot. Because some shoppers will always leave holiday shopping until the last minute, local stores have a major advantage. After all, everybody has experienced shipping delays given the increase in online shopping. Instead, more local shoppers are searching for ways to buy online and pickup in store (BOPIS) to avoid delays.
The key to successfully offering store pickup for online orders is inventory accuracy. This means using store operations software that offers real-time stock information in-store and online. One way to make sure that your store appears online is to use Google’s free product listings and Local Inventory Ads (LIA). Learn more about how to increase foot traffic to stores with Google here.
For last minute shoppers, retailers can offer store pickup. Not only does this avoid delivery delays, it helps encourage shoppers to purchase extra items when they come to the store for their orders. Make sure that your order pickup area is well-merchandised with suitable impulse products. And consider switching to an order pickup system that will allow staff to checkout customers. There’s nothing worse than losing sales from a in-store shopper just because a customer doesn’t want to line up again to pay.
As January rolls in, people will be more careful about money after the busiest spending months of the year. There will be a lot of returns that take place both online and in physical stores. You will need to prepare for this and find new ways to tackle loss prevention too.
Rewrite And Reconsider Different Return Policies
You need to communicate your return and exchange policies to customers both in-store and on all receipts. Make sure you have your policies posted around the store and the checkout area so that staff also understand them. Some important things to remember when writing them are being clear about:
acceptable return windows
condition of items
type of items that can be returned (eg. some stores will not allow cosmetics and intimate items to be returned), return fees, etc.
Being clear about policies can reduce stress for both staff and angry shoppers post-holidays.
Examples: Zara employees tell shoppers their return / exchange policies during checkout. The policies are also printed and circled on their receipts. Zara also offers a short window of exchange for regular-priced items so that people do not keep returning seasonal items for new releases. Having these rules in place are especially important for stores that carry seasonal items. Canadian Tire does not offer returns or exchanges on Christmas trees past December 24.
Retail tip: When processing returns, you should cross out items on shoppers’ receipts and take down their information so that you can see if there is a history of similar behavior. This will help with loss prevention.
Encourage People To Exchange Items Instead
You should minimize refunds because they are a net loss. Besides damage to the products themselves, one of the main costs of returns is bank processing fees. Banks charge fees for purchases as well as refunds by card. In other words, you end up paying twice the fees when refunding money to customers.
While you might offer refunds in your policies, you can minimize your losses by offering shoppers an exchange instead. That way, instead of losing money, you still have a chance to keep the sale or in the best case scenario, make more money.
Retail tip: Offer Buy Online Return in Store (BORIS) so that people can still shop around before they return their products. Shoppers are more likely to buy more or exchange their items in-store. This also gives you a chance to introduce new items to them or impress them with your customer service.
Automate The Process
Shoppers are more likely to return to businesses when they have a good return experience. Whether you sell in-store or omnichannel, retailers need clear return policies and systems in place to handle returns smoothly. You should also make it easy for people to return both online and in-store. This helps nudge customers back into your store in the future. Plus, since you already have their personal information, you are able to send retargeting ads and emails to them about upcoming sales and store events.
Retail tip: You need to get shoppers’ consent before sending them SMS messages or emails.
Resell Merchandise At A Discounted Price
Instead of throwing products away, stores can offer any imperfect items at a discounted price. This lets you keep selling things that would otherwise be wasted.
Example: Best Buy offers both customers the option of buying open-box and refurbished items at a discounted price. This is especially important for high-ticket items such as electronics. Amazon offers different prices for used or returned products based on their condition (used, used-good, etc.). These retailers are able to keep selling products even after the products have been returned.
Want to know more about successful inventory management?
Long gone is the age of clunky cash registers and old legacy systems. Their replacement? a system that allows retailers to sell anywhere, whenever.
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 take orders online 24/7.
This means that the first step to selling everywhere is finding the right retail POS software for your store.
Let us to walk you through some 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, which can lead 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
Want to take action and make more sales by moving your physical store online?
Cloud POS is expected to grow 22.7% annually from 2018 to 2023
But what are the benefits of having cloud technology in your retail space?
3 Key Benefits of Cloud POS for Retailers
1) The ability to sell and operate from anywhere
Web-based POS solutions store data in the cloud which makes them available around the clock for authorized users to pull reports or manage inventory right from the comfort of home or while on a business trip. In comparison, traditional, installed software requires managers to be on-site in order to gain access to important business information such as sales and inventory reports.
With a well-designed cloud POS system, retailers also have the advantage of running their POS software on any hardware from iPads to Windows computers. This flexibility means that retailers are not tied to a specific operating platform. Retailers using traditional POS software and are looking to make the switch to cloud, can do so easily with their existing hardware.
2) Reduced Ongoing Costs
In the long-term, cloud POS software is more cost-efficient than traditional software. This is due to the elimination of many hidden ongoing maintenance costs associated with installed software. In comparison, cloud-based POS solutions requires minimal upfront investment, have little to no downtime during updates, and reduce the amount of in-house technical support and post-sales support required.
3) Access to Real-Time Business Information
Cloud POS software also comes with the benefit of easier access to real-time information. In other words, inventory and sales data is updated as products are received or sold rather than every few hours or daily. If used well, more timely data can help to eliminate significant inventory costs by minimizing stock-outs or overstocking slow sellers. This is particularly important for retail businesses that have multiple locations where consolidated sales and inventory data is critical to purchasing decisions. At the same time, a well-designed cloud POS software will have real-time marketing integrations that help drive more local traffic to your retail store.
After over a year of lockdowns and re-openings, retailers are finally able to open up their doors to the public again. Now, more than ever, retailers need to take more initiative in their local SEO efforts to ensure that they are visible to online shoppers.
But what is local SEO and how does it help my retail business?
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” This refers to marketing that helps increase the quantity and quality of visitors online that find you through organic search engine results. “Organic search engine results” is just a fancy way of saying “the top results that show up without paid advertising” in a search engine when somebody searches using certain words. Here’s an example in what an “organic result” looks like in the Google search engine, but it is similar in Bing or Yahoo.
Local SEO is just a more localized version of this – it’s the way that local businesses can show up higher in organic search engine results. An example could be a customer looking for a bag of Acana dog food in their area. When they type “Acana dog food near me,” Google matches the search to local listings in their area.
How to improve where you show up in “search results“
Have you ever thought of how results pop up on your ‘results’ pages? SEO plays a big role in that. One of the main things that affect how websites are displayed on search engines is the number of and quality of keywords in the website.
What is a keyword?
Keywords are either statements, questions, or words that people put into the search bar in a search engine. Finding the right keywords for your website and other online store listings is important because it can affect how and where you show up in search engine results.
Retailers looking to improve their local SEO should do some keyword research and take proactive efforts to make sure that their website and other listings consistently include the most popular keywords. Over time, this will help their stores rank better in local search engine results. The best way to continuously include popular keywords is to create new and relevant content such as new blog posts or website pages. At the same time, it’s important to always have some evergreen content (content that will remain relevant for the foreseeable future and can be re-shared and repurposed), suitable for the industry (e.g. petstores).
What are examples of evergreen content?
Blog posts or pages featuring clients, products or services offered, as well as their long-term benefits. The goal is to create content that presents the business as an expert within an industry in order to build trust with customers.
Why you need a mobile-friendly website
Another SEO-friendly move includes improving mobile responsiveness on your store website. “Mobile responsiveness” refers to how well your retail website looks on all different screen sizes, especially mobile smartphones. In 2020, just under half of the world’s population owned a smartphone with 63,000 Google searches performed per second. When a website cannot change to fit different screen sizes for different devices automatically, new visitors will leave the website faster as it’s not a good customer experience.
It’s already harder in mobile as statistics have shown that capturing peoples’ attention on smartphones is more difficult (a difference of 28% as compared to Desktops) due to the smaller amount of space from which you can “sell” your business. But when you add this to the fact that people are also increasingly relying on their smartphones as their main source of information and that “search” online today usually starts from a smartphone, mobile responsiveness is key to being found online today.
Targeting new keywords
Another way to increase traffic to your website is to rank for new keywords (click here to jog your memory on keywords) that target challenges or new needs of your customers. In order to know how to show up for specific terms, retail business owners need to do keyword research. One good resource is Neil Patel: his website offers free resources to check what keywords you are ranking for and how to optimize your website so that you show up in more related searches.
Optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) profile
Over 80% of customers go online to find more information about a store or product before ever setting foot in a store. People are getting increasingly more tech savvy, which means that retailers need to adapt to new ways of shopping. Google My Business (GMB) is one of the first stops that new customers usually make to find out details such as opening hours or reviews that past customers have left. It is important to update GMB because:
It’s a free tool that can automatically bring more exposure to your business
It helps customers learn more about your business through features such as Posts, online bookings, photo galleries and store reviews.
It helps customers find you in Google Maps.
⭐ What is SWIS (See What’s In Store)?
See What’s In Store (SWIS) helps retailers showcase their product to shoppers in their area. When shoppers search for products (such as “Acana pet food near me”) in Google, they will see a list of nearby locations that carry those products. If those stores have SWIS activated, Google will show a free product showcase highlighting exactly what products are available in store. Because this feature is most effective when the product availability is accurate, a SWIS product showcase is best when it is managed by a store POS directly linked to Google. The added benefit of SWIS is that it turns product names into keywords which helps retailers show up higher in search results.
Read more about how TAKU has helped retailers globally increase their sales?