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How to Manage and Implement Mask Policies In-Store

How to Manage and Implement Mask Policies In-Store

Depending on your region or city, governments everywhere have been revising restrictions to help retailers re-open safely. Regardless of the local by-laws, it is important for retailers to be prepared to have and to manage mask policies for physical stores. 

Over the past several weeks, cities and mainstream retailers have started implementing new universal mask policies. In this article, we’ll go over how retail owners should consider mask by-laws in-store, how to implement a mask policy even if it is not mandatory in your region, as well as some best practices on how to manage defiant shoppers.

Managing Mask By-Laws In-Store 

If your store is located in an area where mask by-laws are in place, you’ll want to ensure that you take the necessary steps to implement new procedures pertaining to the by-law: 

  • Print out a copy of the by-law from your municipality’s website and consider having a printed copy of the latest by-law available in the store to show to customers as required. Make sure you have read it carefully and are familiar with the requirements.
  • Develop a store mask policy in accordance with the by-law. Make sure to include necessary exemptions as stated by the government (individuals who are exempt such as those with health conditions or younger children, when masks can be temporarily removed etc.) 
  • Be sure to train employees, particularly those who will be greeting and possibly confronting non-cooperative shoppers.
  • Display all necessary by-law signs (posters, signage on store-front etc.) outside and inside of every entrance to your store.

When Masks are Not Mandatory

Retailers have an obligation to provide a safe environment for both their staff and shoppers. In the absence of government orders, it is up to retailers to then determine how to provide a safe environment. 

While masks are not known to protect the wearer from catching the virus, studies have shown that:

  1. They do provide effective protection in minimizing the spread of the virus if the wearer is unknowingly sick (asymptomatic). Countries that have adopted universal masking policies (e.g. South Korea) have also had the best results in minimizing the spread of the virus.
  2. More importantly, they have a positive psychological impact on shoppers that are scared. While some people do not believe in the effectiveness of masks, there is no doubt that mask policies make worried shoppers more confident to shop in-store.
  3. Similarly, having a mask policy will make it easier for retailers to both hire and retain employees many of whom are worried about being exposed to many shoppers throughout the day.

As the virus continues to spread, many retailers have themselves announced mandates requiring all customers to wear masks in their stores. While some shoppers may find mask policies to be unfavourable, given the legal and ethical obligations of the situation, it would be in every retailer’s best interest to make masks mandatory. This will increasingly be easier to do as the largest retailers including Wal-mart, Best Buy, and Costco have all recently implemented universal mask policies.

Let’s take a look at some of the steps that retailers can take when implementing mandatory masking policies both in the absence of government orders and when government by-laws are in place. 

1. Clearly communicate store mask policy

Given the number of different rules and regulations surrounding COVID-19 safety, it’s important to communicate your policy in a clear and respectable way to shoppers. This means having proper signage at all store entrances as well as inside the store and communicating the new policy via social media and digital channels (e.g. email and store website). It is important to announce your new policy in advance to make sure that shoppers are aware of the change and will be expecting to bring and wear a mask when they come to your store.

Signage should state your policy in an easy to understand manner such as “For the safety of our employees and shoppers, all customers entering store premises are required to wear a mask or face cover inside”. You may want to consider adding a list of exemptions to your signage as well (for ex: those with health conditions, hearing impairments etc.) Proper signage and marketing will make potential and returning customers more comfortable to shop at your store. 

If you live in a region where universal masking policies are in place, you’ll want to ensure that all signage and marketing complies with rules of the by-law.

It is worth noting that some retailers have even taken denying access to all maskless shoppers, regardless of the by-law exemptions. In this example of a Fabricland store in Ottawa, the company policy goes beyond the requirements of local regulations and instead asks that anyone unable to wear a face covering to use their curbside pickup option. While stores are privately run businesses on private property and therefore may set their own store policies, it is important to consider both the potential legal and PR implications depending on how universal your mask policy is.

no mask no service sign

2. Station employees at store entrances

Create the role of  “mask ambassador” and assign certain staff members to take on this role. Each “mask ambassador” should be stationed near an entrance of the store to remind customers of the new masking policies. 

You may want to require these employees to wear specific clothing (e.g. a black t-shirt) to make it easier for shoppers to spot them. It’s important that these employees wear highly visible masks themselves and also receive special training to help make the process smoother for customers. Store owners may also want to consider hiring security staff to enforce mask usage.

station store employees at store entrances

3. Train store employees

Unfortunately there have been cases of angry shoppers using physical threats or even spitting on retail employees because of mask policies. This is why it is so important for staff to be trained on how to deal with different customer interactions including: 

  • Those arriving without a mask 
  • Exemptions pertaining to mask policies or by-laws (people with disabilities, hearing impairments, younger children etc.)  
  • Customers wanting more information about the store policy or by-law
  • Aggressive, angry, or irritable customers 
  • Fines related to by-laws
  • Shoppers asking for hand sanitizer or masks 

In the past few weeks, social media has been full of videos capturing clashes between store employees and customers who refuse to wear masks. However, it’s not a retail employee’s job to manage any escalation with customers by themselves. Businesses have a legal and ethical responsibility to provide a safe working and shopping environment. If customers are abusive in their speech or actions, retailers have a right to refuse them. Click here for more examples of how to deal with customers who refuse to wear masks. 

Retail employee wearing mask

4. Consider giving masks away for free

If it is possible, offer to give or sell an affordable mask to unprepared shoppers to avoid turning away potential customers. Doing so is a great way to make it easy for customers to comply with store policy and/or government by-laws. It also helps showcase your support for your customers, employees, and community.

free masks

5. Provide alternative ways to shop 

If customers have concerns about wearing a mask while shopping, providing them with alternative ways to shop online for delivery or contactless curbside pickup is a great way to continue to provide safety and convenience. Modern retail software platforms such as TAKU retail POS help retailers meet the new expectations of shoppers by allowing them to move their physical store online and sell from anywhere in the store, all in one flexible solution. 

Store Mask Policy

We hope you found this article helpful.

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What Should I do as a Small Business in the new Privacy Environment?

What Should I do as a Small Business in the new Privacy Environment?

GDPR famously came into effect in 2018 but since then, CCPA in California and PIPEDA in Canada have both changed the privacy landscape further in North America. Now more than ever, retail owners have to be prepared to deal with customers who have questions about privacy. More specifically, questions regarding the collection of their personal information , what retailers intend to do with it, and how they will protect it from misuse/data breaches.

The best thing you can do right now is start on the process so that you protect your reputation with customers and be prepared when the US or Canadian government changes local privacy regulations again. After all, regulators and customers everywhere would rather see that you have a plan and that you’re working on improving rather than giving up or saying “it doesn’t apply to me.”

Rome wasn’t built in a day

For many small businesses, even knowing where the data of their customers and other people is stored is already hard. This is especially true nowadays with so much data being used and so many integrated systems. For most of us in North America, we’re just starting to consider how best to handle privacy in our day-to-day operations.

To make it easier, we’ve listed 8 basic steps for you below to help you get started on your privacy regulation journey within the context of PIPEDA, GDPR, and CCPA (download our GDPR checklists). These 8 steps are not necessarily enough for compliance with the different privacy regulations but they are a step in the right direction. Only you can decide the data risks you are willing to take with your business but hopefully this will help you clarify what those risks are.

1) Do a Privacy Audit for Personal Data

Download our checklists to make a detailed spreadsheet or summary of where you keep and collect personal data in your business.

2) Check if you currently handle Personal Data Outside of the Country

If you do already handle sensitive Canadian, American, or European personal data, we would recommend that you get further legal assistance as the different policies (PIPEDA, GDPR, and CCPA) already require that you comply. Here is a good comparative guide you can reference to understand the differences between each act.

3) What reason(s) do you have for collecting Personal Data?

Determine what lawful basis you have to collect personal data. Consent? Contract? Legal Obligation? Legitimate Interests?

Remember that you will need to list all of your reasons or lawful bases in the published privacy policy of your web site. Your lawful basis is the legal reason why you can collect and keep personal data so be cautious to think through what you choose or ask for legal advice on this. The different privacy policy regulations require that you explain why you chose to change your lawful basis should somebody make a complaint against your company. 

4) Review existing data and delete any unwanted data

This is probably the most painful part of this exercise. If you have been patiently collecting customer or lead data for years, you will need to make the difficult decision to determine as to whether it is necessary for you to keep all of your existing data. In some instances, you may find that you have been collecting data for years that you never use. In others, it may be that you have some concerns about the source of a list of leads you received in the past. Whether you decide to keep the data or not, it is important that you are aware of what you have so that you know the risks.

5) Update company policies and agreements

Spend some time reviewing all of your existing policies and agreements but especially your privacy policy and your terms of service. If you don’t have either published on your web site yet you’re not alone as many small businesses don’t realize that existing US and Canadian regulations require privacy policies. Now is a good time to have one drafted and added to your site so that you comply with current local requirements and other regulations on this issue.

Remember that the point of these different policies was to make privacy handling more transparent and easier for the average reader to understand as pages and pages of legalese defeats the purpose of any of the new regulations. Depending on the industry you’re in, you will want to have a lawyer look over your policies and agreements but if you’re a small retailer simply looking for a basic privacy policy, you can consider using the free policy generator offered by Shopify or iubenda which has free and paid versions (click for discount code) to post on your web site.

It’s also a good idea to let your email subscribers know whenever you make major revisions to your privacy policy although we would recommend that you add these updates to your regular email updates to ensure the best open rates and visibility.

6) Revise company processes and suppliers

Moving forward you should only gather personal data you need and make sure you have lawful grounds to process it.

Add and document consent wherever possible in your business processes. Consent has to be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous (pre-ticked boxes aren’t allowed) on all of your forms (digital or paper). For email marketing, use reputable services such as MailChimp that are legally compliant so that subscribers are able to unsubscribe at any time.

7) Review all 3rd party processors and sign Data Processing Agreements (DPAs)

It’s also important to consider the privacy practices of your suppliers if you share any data with them that contains personal information. Be understanding that many North American businesses and most small businesses aren’t ready for updated privacy regulations but just make sure that your key partners are making efforts to improve how they handle privacy in their operations. If you’re sharing data with large processors such as Google Analytics, Facebook or MailChimp, you should sign the Data Processing Agreements (DPAs) or review the privacy settings they have for customers that share personal data with them. We’ve listed a few key processor DPAs below:

MailChimp

Google Analytics

Facebook

8) Review your company data security

You cannot have privacy without security. While there’s no such thing as 100% security, every business should review who has access to company data and whether current security settings and back-ups are sufficient.

What we’re doing at TAKU Retail

Like so many of you, we too are doing our best to try to meet ever-changing market expectations. And we’ve made the conscious decision to move towards a higher standard of privacy management so that you can feel confident about how we operate at TAKU Retail POS. To do this, we have recently updated our privacy policy, added consent options to our web forms and our web site cookie handling.

retail privacy policy

This post is an updated version of an original post published on the ACE POS retail blog.

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How to Actually Improve the Retail Checkout Process in 5 Steps

How to Actually Improve the Retail Checkout Process in 5 Steps

Let’s face it, no-one likes long line-ups. In fact, a slow checkout process is almost guaranteed to result in frustrated shoppers, poor customer satisfaction, and a whole lot of lost sales in the process. 

So, while the brick-and-mortar checkout experience has long since evolved from the standard cash register, shopper expectations have also risen along with it. Used to the convenience that e-commerce provides, today’s retail shoppers expect a similarly fast and easy checkout experience.

That’s why we’ve put together the following tips to help you speed up your in-store checkout. Keep reading to find out how you can provide a frictionless experience that will keep your shoppers smiling while you ring in more sales! 

1) Accept different payment methods 

Nowadays, shoppers pay with a lot more than just cash or card. That’s why accommodating different payment methods can go a long way in reducing lineups and speeding up the checkout process. In fact, the more payment options you accommodate, the easier it is for shoppers to check out efficiently. 

To speed up your checkout process, consider enabling the payment types below. 

  1. Contactless Payments: Contactless payments are a faster alternative to chip and pin transactions. In fact, tap-and-pay technology has been adopted by many major credit card companies – becoming a popular payment option for in-store shoppers. 
  2. Mobile Payments: According to a survey done by Blackhawk Network, three out of five U.S. smartphone users have a mobile wallet. While this is a large chunk of consumers, enabling mobile pay can also help retailers capture sales when shoppers leave their wallets at home. 

Expert Tip! Check your processing contract to see if you are liable for any chargebacks on contactless payments. While the increase in speed may still be worth the risk of possible chargebacks, you will want to minimize your exposure by encouraging the use of digital wallets (Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.) which have secondary authentication. You can also consider having CCTV coverage in your checkout area to deter would-be fraudulent shoppers.

retail checkout

2) Offer a buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS) option

Convenience continues to play a significant role on the customer’s path to purchase. And notably, checkout is considered to be the part of the shopping experience where convenience is most valued. In fact, 40% of in-store shoppers state that check-out is when convenience is most important to them

And what better way to provide immediate shopper convenience than a BOPIS option? After all, a great deal of retail continues to happen in nearby physical stores as shoppers are looking for something for immediate usage and they can’t wait for delivery. BOPIS solves several problems that have increasingly discouraged today’s customers from shopping in-store by:

  1. Optimizing the customer experience by ensuring that shoppers are never disappointed (e.g. products are out of stock) when they get to the store.
  2. Saving shoppers time when they are in the store – everything is already ready for pick-up. Retailers can streamline the process even further by dedicating certain checkout lines and POS stations to BOPIS shoppers. Don’t forget to merchandise around these areas with high-margin “snackable” products to capture any last minute impulse purchases!

According to an article by the Business Insider, almost 70% of US consumers use BOPIS. Buy online pick-up in-store options significantly increase checkout speed because all shoppers have to do is come to the store and pick up their orders. In some cases, 50% of shoppers state that they decide where to buy based on whether they can pick up their orders in-store.

At the same time, BOPIS also boosts sales and profitability for merchants by improving cashflow with prepaid orders, encouraging more impulse buys in-store, reducing overall delivery costs and minimizing returns compared to e-commerce.

It’s important to remember that BOPIS is most effective when used with a retail POS that can handle “unified commerce” as real-time stock levels are key to product availability. Unified commerce is just another way of saying a total retail management platform that offers a single view of inventory, sales, and customer data across an entire business in real time. As expected, the need for real-time data grows as sales volume and transaction complexity increases.

buy online pick up in-store

3) Upgrade to a line-busting POS

Perhaps the most important decision you can make to speed up your checkout process is to choose the right POS system. With so many different options out there on the market, it’s best to choose a POS that is designed for checkout speed. Particularly, look out for the following features in your POS software:

  • Cross-platform capabilities that let you turn any device into a station. You’ll want to ensure that your POS is mobile-friendly and that it can be run from any device. This will allow you to ring in sales from anywhere in your store when lineups get too long. Which means you can speed up the checkout process for your shoppers based on real-time demand.
  • Easy to navigate salescreen. Look for a POS software that is user friendly and designed for minimum clicks. Ideally, cashiers shouldn’t have to leave the salescreen in order to complete a transaction. 
  • Fast barcode scanning. To ensure a fast checkout process, it’s necessary to choose a POS system that is designed for fast scanning speed. It’s also important that your POS software can handle multiple barcodes per SKU.
  • Advanced inventory search. In addition to the features mentioned above, your retail POS needs to have smart search functions and the ability to quickly recall your last search. This will give you and your employees the ability to search products by keyword, description, or tag in case labels fall off or barcodes are not scannable.
line busting retail POS

4) Train your staff effectively

Having the right POS technology and hardware in place is not enough. Retailers need to consider the people who are actually operating the technology a.k.a their sales associates!

Staff are a crucial part of checkout optimization. Which is why store owners must devote the time and resources to adequately train them. To make things easier, think about adopting a POS system with built-in training tools. This will boost employee productivity and encourage self-service while significantly reducing training costs and time.

training retail staff

5) Email Receipts

While digital receipts are environmentally friendly, they’re also useful in cutting checkout lines. For one, shoppers won’t have to wait for their receipt to print out. And your employees won’t have to waste time refilling the receipt printer – risking the chance of aggravating customers who are already waiting in line.

In addition to streamlining the checkout process, digital receipts also come with significant business benefits, including:

  • Giving retailers an easier way to build email lists and gather customer data
  • Helping reduce fraudulent returns 
  • Decreasing overhead costs by eliminating printed receipts
  • Driving future interaction when you include links to the store website and social media
  • Allowing retailers to include personalized marketing message on receipts boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty

Expert Tip! Privacy is an increasingly important customer expectation. If you are collecting email lists, make sure that your POS system gives you the ability to legally collect consent for marketing directly from your customers.

email receipts

We hope you found this article helpful!

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Cash flow Management: 4 Cash flow Tips for Retailers

Cash flow Management: 4 Cash flow Tips for Retailers

Every store owner knows that cash is king in retail. For obvious reasons, good cash flow management allows retailers to survive and thrive. It gives them the ability to purchase stock at the right time, negotiate better payment terms, deal with an emergency, hire more engaged employees, improve store merchandising, and generally reinvest back into the business.

But due to the complexities associated with running a retail store (inventory, seasonality, competitive promotions, etc.) unexpected costs can arise – and when this happens, many retailers find themselves in a cash crunch. A cash crunch can be defined as a situation in which a business does not have enough money to operate efficiently. 

If you find yourself in this position, don’t panic. Below are some steps you can take to get back on track and free up cash in your retail business!

What is cash flow?

Cash flow refers to the money going in and out of a business. For a retail store, cash inflows (incoming money) include product sales while cash outflows (or expenses) consist of payroll, marketing, inventory, rent, operating expenses, etc.

If you have more money coming in than out, then your business has a positive cash flow. If the opposite is true and you have more money going out than coming in, that means you have a negative cash flow.

It’s important to remember that a business’ cash flow should not be confused with profit – cash flow represents the amount of liquidity that is available to a business at any given time. Profitability is an accounting concept which, if you are using accrual accounting methods, may not be in sync with your cash flow. For example, it is possible for you to be profitable (and therefore owe taxes according to the way you incur sales) but still be cash flow negative. As you can imagine, negative cash flow will quickly cause problems for a business if there are no financing options available for you to pay ongoing overhead costs such as rent or payroll.

cash flow management definition

4 ways to improve cash flow

1) Stay on top of customer invoices

Getting your customers to pay you on time is key to increasing your cash flow. While it is easier said than done, here are some practical invoicing tips:

  • Give out incentives to pay earlier: Many business owners offer their customers discounts for paying before a certain date. This helps incentivize customers to pay faster which means better cash flow for you. Along the same lines, you can also charge a late payment penalty for those who do not pay on time.
  • Make it easy to accept immediate payment: More and more businesses accept credit cards for even high value or B2B sales now. While there can be fairly high processing fees to accept electronic payment, cash in hand is often still worth the fees as it reduces the risk of non-payment or late payments. Similarly, you can utilize payment services such as After-Pay, Klarna, Sezzle, Affirm, etc. These so called “lay-buy” services allow shoppers to buy now and pay in several interest-free installments. The benefit for the merchant is that the service will pay you upfront vs. a traditional “layaway” where the customer picks up the item at the end of the term once the entire purchase is paid off. As expected, deferred payment for the shopper generally increases overall sales, particularly with those that don’t have credit cards, and it will allow you to book the sale much earlier, but remember that as the merchant, you are paying a significant fee for this service (usually slightly higher than credit card processing) so make sure to shop around as different companies offer different rates and terms.
  • Send invoices right away: If you don’t send invoices, you can’t get paid. So make sure you stay on top of on-account sales and any unpaid invoices. Remember – the faster you send invoices out, the faster the cash comes in.
  • Send customers invoice reminders: It’s good practice to send friendly email reminders to your customers a week before the invoice is due, the day it’s due, and a few days after. If they still haven’t paid, it may be time to give them a call. But always make sure to include a copy of the invoice and the payment options in your email to make it easier for customers to pay.
customer invoices

2) Review payment processing fees

While electronic payment is important to increase convenience for shoppers, retailers should regularly examine their credit card service fees. Payment processors operate in a very competitive marketplace. It’s a good idea to do your due diligence, understand your contract terms and get estimates and quotes for your processing rates. This way, you can ensure that you are not paying more than you need to. If you process a decent volume of card transactions monthly (e.g. over $100,000 worth), make sure that you negotiate for better rates before signing any contracts.

Expert Tip: Make sure you check and understand the chargeback policies for your processor. Chargebacks (reversals on charges by the processor based on claims by the shopper) can quickly add up if you are not protecting yourself (e.g. have CCTV at your checkout till as evidence to dispute a chargeback) or using methods of payment that minimize your risk (e.g. only EMV-compliant chip & PIN terminals protect you from chargebacks).

payment processing

3) Take a look at your operating expenses

Cash flow management isn’t just about getting more cash to come into your business. A big part of good cash flow management is reducing the amount of cash that is going out of your business.

For retailers, the largest monthly expenses tend to be payroll, rent, insurance, and inventory. A failure to properly manage any of these cash outflows can pose a serious threat to a retail business. Below are some tips for reducing these operating expenses:

Payroll: You don’t ever want to pay your staff to sit and watch people pass your front door. If you have a few years of sales history, make sure to keep an eye on your peak and slow periods. Make sure to create your employees and assign tasks (marketing, outbound sales calls, cleaning, repair etc.) based on the expected needs of your business, not simply ease of scheduling.

Insurance: Insurance can represent a big chunk of your expenses in a given month. Due to the competitive nature of the industry, it would be wise to seek out comparative quotes and consider larger deductibles (whatever you can reasonably afford in an emergency) to reduce your ongoing premiums.

Inventory: As the largest asset for a retail business, many retailers have their cash flow tied up in inventory. Even if you are a guideshop or an online business, unless you’re only dropshipping, you will have to draw from your store inventory or warehouse stock. That’s why careful inventory tracking and management is key to good cash flow management for every retailer or wholesaler. For a good overview of inventory management essentials for retail click here.  While it’s possible to use back office software just to manage inventory, it’s always ideal to use a retail POS system with built-in inventory management features that can help you ensure that the inventory you are buying is actually selling and therefore make smarter buying decisions moving forward.

operating expenses

4) Have a cash reserve

There comes a time where every business experiences a cash flow shortfall. It may be due to a delayed payment of a large invoice, an unexpected personal emergency, or it could just be bad weather affecting your sales. Whatever the case may be, it’s imperative to have financial resources in place in case your business experiences a cash crunch. 

While some say it’s good practice to have two months of expenses saved up as a cash reserve, the fact is, you don’t want to have funds sitting in a regular bank account, not earning you any return. If you are able to set aside some cash, it’s always best to look at higher-interest savings accounts or short-term investments that will still allow you to withdraw funds if they are needed suddenly. Make sure to check with your tax accountant to make sure it is worthwhile though – various countries, states and provinces tax business investment or interest income differently.

If it’s not possible or you don’t want to put aside such a large cash reserve, you can also consider financing options such as line of credits (LOCs) or small business loans. While the idea of owing money may make some retail owners nervous, it’s important to remember that you may not be able to qualify for a loan when you actually need it. Most LOCs or SMB loans don’t charge interest until you actually draw on the funds so as long as you only keep these options for emergencies, these can be good tools to smooth out cash flow fluctuations. Similarly, always check with your local business association to see if there are any government programs available to help with small business financing. Generally speaking, low risk financing programs to support small businesses are available at all levels of government.

cash flow reserve

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What is The Total Cost of a Retail POS System?

What is The Total Cost of a Retail POS System?

So…you’re on the hunt for a new point of sale (POS) system for your retail business.

Maybe you’re unhappy with your current POS and looking to upgrade to more innovative technology. Or, perhaps you’re still using pen and paper to manage your retail operations. 

Whatever the case maybe, we’ve got you covered!  

In this post, we’ll explain how much a typical POS system costs and the different factors that make up that cost. We’ll cover everything from software, hardware, and payment processing fees, before we dive into how you can find the best and most cost-effective solution for your store.

Let’s get started with the two main types of POS software for retail on the market today.

How Much Does a POS System Cost?

Legacy vs. Cloud software: The price of your POS system will depend heavily on the type of software you choose. Traditional, on-premise systems usually require an upfront investment of $4,000-$7,000. While you own continued access to use purchased licenses with this upfront payment, remember that you usually only have access to the version that you purchased. This means that you will need to pay some type of fee to get access to software upgrades or support services. While upgrades are not as important in the beginning, they will eventually be required to match the security upgrades of the operating system (e.g. Windows, etc.) or integrated tools.

In comparison, modern cloud-based (SaaS) software requires little upfront investment – instead you pay a monthly subscription fee. While this fee is ongoing, it’s important to remember that the monthly cost of cloud software is often less than on-premise software once you include the reduced cost of technical support (e.g. technicians on-site, support plans, upgrade fees) and you don’t need to worry about lost data as your information is always backed up to the cloud. The monthly cost of cloud POS software varies but to really figure out how much you can expect to pay, you’ll need to consider several factors such as the number of users, stores, features, the size of your business, etc. On average, it ranges from $80-$200 per station per month.

To learn more about on-premise vs cloud POS software, click here.

Hardware: Next, you’ll need to consider your hardware costs. Remember – POS software and hardware are not universally compatible. So once you’ve decided on a software, you’ll need to have the right hardware in place to support your POS system.

With that being said, the amount you spend on your POS equipment depends on your industry needs and how you operate. Are you planning on ringing in sales with tablet devices? Are you issuing digital or printed receipts? Does your inventory volume require you to scan items at a fast pace?

A small store owner may only require one or two tablets to operate while a mid-sized retailer may need several monitors, receipt printers, and barcode scanners. 

Payment Processing fees: Arguably the most overlooked cost to a merchant are payment processing fees which can end up costing a lot in the long run as they are also an ongoing cost of business. This is why you should take your time to research your options.

For those who are not familiar with payment processing, every time a customer uses a credit or debit card, you will need to pay a fee to process that transaction. Payment processors such as Bambora or Global are the third-party service providers who process credit card transactions in exchange for a fee.

Some POS vendors act as their own card processors (Square, etc.) while others offer integrated payments. Depending on the size of your business, you can expect to pay at least 2.6% + a small transaction fee per transaction. Similar to your hardware, it’s best to go with a payment provider that integrates well with your POS system. Many POS companies offer special pricing if you opt to go for one of their preferred payment processors.

What to Consider Before Purchasing a POS System

Finding the right POS system for your retail business depends on your unique business needs. A POS software that works extremely well for one retail business (e.g a clothing store) may not work well for another (e.g. a high-traffic grocery store). 

So, we’ve put together a checklist to help you find the right POS for your store. Here are some additional cost factors to consider when hunting for a new POS system:

1. Size of your retail operations: Most POS vendors will charge per location or store. Meaning the larger you get, the larger the cost to your business. Which is why it’s important to think about scalability when you make a decision about your POS.

Merchants that wish to scale their retail operations should opt for a POS system that is built for multi-location and high growth stores. This can help you save a significant amount of time and money down the road. Look out for the following features:

  • Unlimited stores, selling zones, and stock allocations
  • Multi-currency and multi-language features
  • The ability to handle high transaction and inventory volume

2. The quality and complexity of features: It makes sense that a more complete and useful system would cost a store owner more. While smaller retailers may not need to pay for robust features, mid-sized and larger merchants may have to.  

Most POS systems come with tiered pricing plans. If you are looking for basic features (salesscreen, basic inventory etc.) then you can go for a lower-tiered plan. But if you require more advanced features (pricebooks, accounting integration, advanced inventory etc.) then you’ll have to go with a higher-tiered plan.

3. Open API access: If you are a growing business or already use other tools that you need to integrate with your POS, you will want to make sure that the POS system you’re looking at has an open API. Essentially, this is what allows merchants (with their own developers or marketing agency) to access backend data to integrate to or even enhance other applications they are already using. This is particularly important for a merchant looking to create or add innovative tools that improve their ability to compete. Examples of this include retailers looking to integrate their own custom e-commerce site, existing ERP system or even integrate to RFID devices to manage shrinkage.

4. Device Compatibility: As noted above, you need to consider compatibility with your existing devices when purchasing a POS. You don’t want to invest even more money and time in new hardware devices. This is more than simply whether your POS can run on certain devices, it includes whether the system you’re looking at can work with your existing credit card terminals, barcode scanners, etc.

5. Training and onboarding costs: Another important yet overlooked cost is the price of onboarding new POS technology. A POS solution that is inexpensive but difficult to use can cause your business a lot in the long run – this is especially true for high-traffic retailers that deal with long line-ups and peak periods. It is also important to consider if you are a retailer with a high turnover rate or seasonal peaks. If you are constantly training new staff members, it would be best to select a POS system with built-in training tools.

Remember – the proper POS software will not only help speed-up store operations, it will help you increase sales and can result in happier, more productive staff members.

onboarding cost of pos system

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The 5 Essentials of Great Inventory Management for Retail Stores

The 5 Essentials of Great Inventory Management for Retail Stores

There are many different inventory management methods but ultimately, it comes down to one thing, “do you have stock when you need to sell it“.

For retailers, inventory planning matters. Inventory is your largest asset and has the greatest impact on your business cash flow. If you plan your inventory well, you can reduce your overhead costs and increase cash flow.

Cash flow sitting in old or out-of-season inventory is money that could be better used elsewhere. Lean retailers that don’t carry a lot of excess stock have more flexibility to introduce new products more quickly. This is particularly true in industries such as grocery where products are perishable or fashion where products can be trendy. All products lose value over time but in these sectors, products have shorter life cycles and a shorter lifespan, meaning they lose their value faster. And so, maintaining unnecessarily high stock levels means an increased chance of getting stuck with products that require deep discounting to free up your cash flow. Consider this the next time your suppliers offer you better prices to buy a larger volume of product.

It is important to remember, keeping your inventory lean doesn’t mean maintaining low stock levels. If stock levels are not properly aligned to your sales demand and kept too low, you will constantly have out-of-stock products. You want to avoid stockouts as they are costly to retailers not only because of lost sales, but because of wasted marketing efforts and lost customer goodwill.

In the end, selling at any price is not the objective. To be profitable, retailers need loyal, repeat customers that don’t require expensive marketing campaigns to attract. When you think of it this way, inventory is an important part of your overall customer service. Customer service is the new marketing as every touch point impacts how your customers view your business. Less stockouts means higher sales in-store and faster fulfillment for online orders, all of which means better customer satisfaction.

What can I do as a retailer to better manage my inventory?

If you’re an independent and all of this sounds scary, don’t worry. Not all retailers have the resources of the big brands, and regardless of your size, there are things you can do to better plan your inventory.

1) Make sure you always have access to real-time stock levels. You can’t manage what you don’t know. With an increasing number of sales channels (e.g. e-commerce, pop-ups, etc.), a retail POS that can handle “unified commerce” with real-time stock levels is key to inventory management in today’s market. Unified commerce is just another way of saying a total retail management platform that you can log into from anywhere that offers a single view of inventory, sales, and customer data across an entire business in real time. As expected, the need for real-time inventory data grows as the business and transaction complexity increases.

2) Use minimum stock levels (also known as safety stock levels). In many retail point-of-sale systems, you can assign a minimum stock level to every product in your store which you can easily track in comparison to your actual stock level. You should also be able to easily make mass updates in your POS when you review your minimum stock levels every 3-6 months.

3) Track inventory stock levels by supplier so that you can consolidate purchases to minimize stock-outs, lead time, and shipping costs. This will also allow you to more easily meet supplier minimum order amounts.

4) Track inventory turnover. This is essentially how many times a product is sold and replaced over a certain period of time. This can be tracked at a very high level (e.g. including the entire store inventory) or at the product/category level. There are different ways to calculate turnover but whatever approach you use, consider using Cost of Goods Sold instead of Sales as you will get a more accurate measure as your result will not include markup. For example:

TAKU Retail Inventory Turnover
  • From Jan-Mar, this company had inventory turnover of 13.33. This is calculated by taking the Sales$ for this period and dividing it by Average Stock Value$. Now you can convert this to “inventory days” by taking 365 / 13.33. So from Jan-Mar, inventory turns 13.33 times a year and is on hand for approximately 27.38 days. If you run the same calculations for Apr-Jun, inventory turns 18.33 times a year and is on hand for approximately 19.91 days.
  • From these two examples, the higher your turnover rate, the more efficient you are, since it means that your inventory is being sold faster and you have more cash flow in your business. A lot of people forget that the cost of inventory is not just the original purchase cost of an item. It includes the ongoing cost TO SELL that inventory. The longer it takes to sell something, the greater your real inventory cost as your money is sitting in that dead stock instead of products that are in high demand.

5) Determine your ideal Reorder Days. It is always a good idea to estimate the leadtime required to reorder products in time for suppliers to produce OR deliver them before you are out-of-stock. For example, if you know it takes two weeks to receive orders from a particular vendor, make sure to factor that leadtime into your reorder timing. In the beginning, you don’t want to cut it too close as unexpected delays can happen (e.g. snowstorms in the winter). This is especially true if you are ordering for a busy time of year such as Christmas. For some retailers, losing a week during the holidays might mean the difference between Christmas and Boxing Day pricing.

Inventory management for all

A lot of independent retailers or businesses often think that they are not big enough to use inventory management tools and try to use spreadsheets to keep track of their goods. While this can work in the beginning, as your inventory items grow in both size and attributes, you will either overstock (to prevent stockouts) or have constant back orders. You will also lose out on freight savings and volume discounts you might have received if you had consolidated your vendor orders more efficiently.

Start managing your inventory by following the key essentials we’ve listed above. Then when you’re ready, start to slowly automate these functions one-by-one. With the proper point-of-sale system, you will be able to spend less time managing your inventory and more time selling it.


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This article is an updated version of a blog post first published in the ACE POS Solutions blog.