The Coronavirus pandemic – and the shift in the way consumers shop, work, and live – has drastically changed how things are done across different sectors of the economy.
And retail is no exception. Due to the pandemic, there has been a 15-30% increase in consumers who purchase online. Consumers have also increased their use of different sales methods such as contactless payment, curbside pickup, virtual consultations, and even social commerce (purchasing products through social media). According to retail experts and shopper surveys, this new behaviour is here to stay.
To survive the pandemic and meet the new expectations of shoppers today, merchants need to use modern POS technology that will allow them to quickly adapt to market changes (e.g. future lockdowns) and easily sell both in-store and online. The need for flexibility is why retailers today are increasingly relying on cloud POS technology.
What is a Cloud POS solution?
A cloud POS system is a point-of-sale solution that doesn’t need to be installed anywhere. Instead of maintaining a server computer in your physical store, cloud POS companies host your information on secure third-party services such as Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure. This is in contrast to traditional POS systems which can only be installed and/or used on specific devices.
At first glance, having your information stored elsewhere might seem scary. But cloud-based systems have a lot of major advantages in the current shopper environment when compared to installed software. In particular, they are a lot more cost-effective and flexible. These characteristics make a huge difference during these uncertain times and are key reasons why more merchants are switching to cloud-based systems than ever before.
Our team has been supporting and building software solutions for retailers for a long-time now. Until the pandemic started, multi-location retailers were the businesses most likely to look at cloud-based POS. This makes a lot of sense since the sharing of information between different stores is much harder with traditional POS systems. But today, the pandemic has significantly increased the demand for online sales options across all sectors. This means that, to survive, even a retailer with only a single physical store needs to manage sales, customers and inventory between in-store and online sales channels.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the main benefits of replacing your traditional retail POS with a cloud-based system.
The Benefits of Cloud Technology for Retailers Post-COVID-19
As traditional shoppers are increasingly buying online for delivery or pick-up, retailers need to keep track of inventory in ever more places. This is a major headache for many retailers as online sales channels are often handled separately with traditional POS systems. But keeping track of inventory history and stock levels everywhere you sell is critical as stock-outs mean upset customers and lost sales.
A lot of traditional POS solutions have “cloud” options but many of these are clunky, remote workarounds that don’t sync inventory across storefronts in real-time, often break down or require expensive third-party tools and technical support to fix.
With demand levels fluctuating throughout the pandemic, managing inventory using traditional systems that are separate or sync on a timer can be a serious drain on resources and finances. And the pandemic has made it even harder for merchants to afford the staff necessary to manually manage inventory or check stock levels because the numbers in the system can’t be relied upon.
With a modern cloud-based retail POS platform, today’s retailers have the ability to do all of the following within a single software:
share the same products across all locations and digital channels
split the same product stock quantities by store, website or warehouse
easily create new stores or stock splits to re-allocate inventory at any time
give staff the ability to check all locations for real-time product availability
control exactly how much access staff have to see costs and inventory details
fulfill sales across all channels quickly for delivery or pickup with ease
buy online, pay in-store during pickup
handle buy online, return in-store
minimize stock-outs because you can quickly adjust purchasing or move stock quantities around as sales happen, not after the fact
A cloud-based retail system provides greater mobility which basically means that retailers can sell from anywhere inside the store, outside the store or online 24/7. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that retailers need this kind of flexibility in their business. During the recent lockdowns, retailers with access to their POS systems from anywhere were able to immediately work from home or take payments outside of their stores to offer curbside pickup.
Modern systems such as TAKU Retail can function on any device which makes it even more cost-effective for retailers to adopt. True cloud systems are not tied to any specific device. Where earlier cloud systems are limited to only a single type of hardware (e.g. iPads), the latest cloud POS systems allow retailers to use any existing web-enabled devices (e.g. Windows or Mac computers, Android or Apple smart devices) together. This type of flexibility helps merchants reduce the overall cost of hardware, even as they grow, since almost any existing device can be turned into a station.
And accessibility doesn’t refer only to selling or accessing reports. While older installed or cloud systems only give retailers access to specific functions, true cloud systems give you full access to all of the features in the software so you can run your business from anywhere. Accessibility also includes managing access rights all from one dashboard. If you’re a larger retailer, you should be able to quickly manage (or revise) the access rights for each staff member across all devices wherever you happen to be working.
3. Manage shoppers from every channel in one dashboard
While the Coronavirus pandemic will pass, changes in consumer shopping habits are here to stay. Retail consumers are now shopping locally, cost-consciously, and digitally. Being there for your customers wherever they are is often called “omnichannel” retail or “unified commerce”. And shoppers that are using multiple sales channels are likely to continue to do so.
What’s important to remember is that being omnichannel is about more than simply taking sales in all channels. It’s about providing a consistent experience for shoppers across all touchpoints. It means making it easier for shoppers to find you, buy from you or even bring something back to you. There’s no doubt that taking orders online is important to the survival of a lot of retailers during the pandemic. Similar to the value behind impulse buying in-store, the average order size of omnichannel customers are often higher because you have more opportunities to engage with your shoppers across different channels.
Another thing to keep in mind is that online sales naturally come with higher return rates as shoppers make mistakes or shipments are damaged. Being able to manage all of your sales and returns across all channels in one place is important to minimize returns and to minimize the costs of these returns – e.g. by offering in-store returns or exchanges to avoid losing sales or paying double the processing fees.
Many retailers experienced significant growth in online sales and curbside pickup during the pandemic. In fact, in some essential sectors, traditional stores were unable to keep up with the demand as they struggled to handle the sudden boost in traffic.
As your business grows and becomes more complex, your retail management system must be able to accommodate new stores, new sales channels, new employees, and new product lines without any limitations. A flexible unified commerce system will have the built-in options required for you to adapt as your business grows. This includes functions such as unlimited physical stores, unlimited back office users, unlimited stock quantity allocations and customizable tax rules. With customizable settings, fast onboarding support and transparent pricing, modern cloud systems offer retail owners a flexible tailored solution that can easily scale without hidden costs.
With shopping behaviour shifting constantly throughout the pandemic, being able to track, manage, and engage with customers across all channels is key for long-term success. An all-in-one retail sales system such as TAKU Retail allows you to handle all of your touchpoints from in-store shopping and curbside pickup to local delivery, all in one platform. It allows retailers to be flexible with their business processes and adapt quickly when the environment changes.
With traditional systems, data is isolated between the different sales channels. In comparison, cloud-based systems give merchants access to consolidated retail data which makes it significantly easier for them to see trends as they happen in real-time.
Built with next-generation technology, modern cloud platforms are even able to help retailers leverage their own retail data to attract more shoppers. As the first POS company to be a Trusted Google Partner, TAKU is the first platform in the industry to automatically help retailers be found online by people searching nearby for what they sell. And so, not only can cloud POS systems increase sales when shoppers are engaged, they can now help retailers get in front of shoppers before they even leave their homes.
Make sure you’re using retail technology that can keep up with the rapidly changing market. Make the switch to cloud today – it’s easier than you think. Whether you prefer to set up everything yourself or would like to work with migration experts, leading cloud systems today have modern tools to make data migration and training faster than ever.
We hope you found this article helpful!
Subscribe to our blog for more post-COVID-19 retail tips.
According to the National Retail Federation, losses due to organized retail crime, theft, and vendor fraud, etc. have continued to grow over the past few years. In 2019, shrinkage reached $61.7 billion, up from $50.6 billion in 2018.
Now the COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges for retailers when it comes to loss prevention.
History has shown that retail theft increases after global events that have major economic impact. Following events such as 9/11 and the financial crisis of 2008, there was a notable increase in shoplifting.
Retail experts are predicting that COVID-19 could lead to even greater increases in retail crime as factors such as unemployment, uncertainty, and financial pressure make people more likely to steal and purchase stolen goods. Additionally, thieves are likely to take advantage of masking policies to get away with shoplifting and organized retail crime.
Let’s take a look at how retail owners can mitigate the risk of increased retail theft post-pandemic.
Post-COVID-19 loss prevention tips
Limit the number of shoppers in-store
Limiting the amount of shoppers allowed inside at a given time will prevent your retail store from becoming too crowded. Not only is this an important health & safety measure post-COVID-19, it is also critical in deterring retail theft.
A limited number of shoppers in-store will make it easier for staff to spot any suspicious activity. Remember, alert employees are the best defense against shoplifters. Attentive customer service and eye contact are key. Thieves hate attention and are less likely to act if they are in plain sight of store employees. So, if employees suspect a shopper is likely to commit a crime, teach them to engage the shopper in conversation.
Since many retailers have had to decrease the number of staff per shift to accommodate social distancing guidelines, limiting shoppers in store will also help to ensure adequate staff oversight. This way, store owners can be confident that there are enough employees keeping an eye on the sales floor.
Use cameras and mirrors
No matter how alert you and your employees are, it’s difficult to constantly monitor what is going on in your store. This is why security cameras, mirrors, and closed-circuit television cameras are great assets. When you are busy assisting shoppers or if you get momentarily distracted, video surveillance ensures that you are still covered in case of a crime or theft. And with retail theft expected to rise and a limited amount of staff allowed per shift post-COVID-19, you may want to consider installing more cameras and mirrors. It can be as simple as wifi cameras with recording functions or advanced AI surveillance software such as NoLeak Defense which uses technology to flag when a person’s body language is suspicious.
For smaller retailers, mirrors are a cost effective way to make a significant impact for both monitoring and deterrence. It’s a good idea to place them in the “blind spots” and corners of your store. This will make it easier for staff to see the whole store and at the same time, can make the perceived size of your store bigger.
Signage to prevent theft
Another cost-effective way to minimize opportunities for thieves to steal is the use of signage. Similar to how an at-home security system would deter burglars, anti-theft signs can act as a means to ward off potential retail crime.
Here are a few best practices when it comes to maximizing the impact of loss-prevention signage:
Place signs near your storefront or your front door to make it clear that your retail store is being monitored. This is often the first place that shoppers look and helps to minimize any privacy concerns.
Make sure your signage is placed high up where shoplifters would look for cameras/mirrors.
Consider featuring a set of eyes or list the consequences of committing retail crime (fines, jail time etc.) on the signage. Research has shown that this increases the likelihood of compliance.
Go cashless for security
Unfortunately a significant amount of shrinkage is internal. After all, employees are more likely to understand how your operations work and how products or money can be taken without being noticed. And so, with the increase in shoplifting, experts are also predicting a spike in employee theft post-pandemic.
If you accept cash, you won’t be able to run your retail business without giving employees access to your cash drawer. At the same time, balancing your cash drawer every day is time consuming. In the words of small business expert Michael Philippou, “take away cash and you take away the problem”. If it is necessary for you to accept cash, it’s important for you to use a retail POS system that has proper cash management and “cashout” controls including payment breakdown by tender type, the ability to hide system or +/- figures, etc. These types of functions will make it more difficult for employees to adjust closing figures as only users with the higher access rights would be able to see the comparisons.
To reduce the risk of internal theft, you should consider joining other retailers in going cashless, even if only temporarily. Yes there are costs associated with electronic payments but when you consider the risks in terms of employee theft and the extra administration costs, it is likely more cost-effective for you to go cashless. COVID-19 has only increased the risks and is the key reason why many retailers (and even government support such EBT programs) are increasingly digital these days. And if you are a fast-moving retailer, taking integrated electronic payments with your POS can also help increase your sales as you can significantly increase your checkout speed and accuracy.
Use a unified retail software
Before the pandemic, many merchants looked at “omnichannel,” “harmonized” or “unified” retail as a nice-to-have. Since the pandemic started, retailers are now looking at omnichannel as a must-have. So what do all of these terms actually mean?
While the terms have slight differences, they basically refer to a single system or piece of software that allows you to connect all of your inventory and customer data from all sales channels. So whether you make a sale online or in-store, you can track every order, payment, refund or inventory change in one software. Separate or poorly linked systems make it much harder for store managers to know how much inventory there is. Naturally, this creates opportunities for would-be thieves to more easily steal products – as nobody will notice that system quantities don’t match what’s available until they actually check what’s in stock!
While it’s possible for traditional POS software to offer some of these functions, a cloud-based system will be much better at handling this as the data in a true cloud system is managed in a central database online. This is particularly true if you manage inventory over multiple physical locations within one or many stores. During uncertain times, the flexibility and accessibility of cloud-based systems from anywhere makes it a lot easier for store managers and owners to:
More easily identify and trace suspicious activity all from a single system
Know what total inventory is in-stock vs. available to sell across all of your locations and sales channels.
Have better visibility into all transactions and inventory activity from wherever they are working (e.g. when they are working from home)
Have proper employee controls based on their access rights regardless of what device they are using and wherever they log in (e.g. no more remote access!)
Revise your store layout
There is a lot to consider when it comes to retail design in a post-pandemic environment. Retailers need to re-organize their store layouts to help shoppers and employees feel safe and comfortable. But at the same time, their store design and set up needs to be organized in the best possible way to prevent theft.
Below are some tips to consider when revising your store layout post-COVID-19:
Place shelves and displays 6 ft. apart so employees have maximum visibility. This also helps to ensure compliance with social distancing guidelines.
Have elevated sales counters for better staff visibility of the shop floor.
Place small high-touch and high-value items near the checkout counter or in locked displays.
Install mirrors and cameras to eliminate blind spots.
Make sure there is adequate lighting in all areas.
Avoid large or clustered displays by reducing your selection. Many retailers including mainstream grocery stores are doing this now as fewer SKUs means less re-stocking and better visibility on suspicious behaviour.
Keep your store organized; a disorganized store attracts shoplifters and makes it easier for them to operate.
Install sensors that notify you when shoppers enter or exit the store. This is particularly important if you are trying to control the number shoppers in your store to maintain social distancing.
Have an employee stationed near the front of the store to greet customers as they enter and exit the store. Make sure that this employee is trained to handle customers with mask-related issues or to explain your store safety policies, etc. Personable, engaged employees help deter would-be thieves who are more likely to target stores where they can enter and leave undetected.
Partner with law enforcement
Working closely with law enforcement is a key factor in the fight against organized retail crime and theft. In the U.S., many federal, state, and local governments have established agencies that work with retailers to combat organized retail crime. To find out more about ORC associations in Canada, click here.
It’s a good idea to contact your local police station or retail association for advice on how to report organized retail crime, shoplifting, and internal theft in your area. Authorities can redirect you to local community resources and even provide important loss prevention tips.
Prepare your employees
With post-pandemic employee fraud expected to increase, retailers need to take preventive action. Besides some of the payment and system options mentioned earlier, here a few others steps that retailers can take to protect against internal shrinkage:
Send a clear message to all employees that detecting fraud is still a priority and will not slip under the radar. With sales down, layoffs and the addition of preventive health & safety measures, some employees may sense the company’s attention is elsewhere and believe there is an opportunity for theft.
Fraud training for senior employees, visible management of anti-fraud efforts, and the promotion of transparency should still be a priority for retail owners and managers.
Do random inventory counts. It is not necessary to check the entire store – many stores often do partial counts by section – but make sure that the counts are unscheduled so that employees cannot anticipate them.
Increase POS data analysis and auditing frequency to be familiar with employee activity and be alert to possible fraud activity when there are unusual patterns.
Use a modern POS system to make it easier to manage discrepancies in inventory and have a clear overview of your entire business across all locations and sales channels.
Ensure your POS system has strong user permissions. These permissions allow store owners and managers to restrict staff members from accessing certain features (such as sales reports and refunds without receipts, etc.).
Run background checks when hiring new employees.
Ensure employees are well trained to prevent accidental loss. Whether it’s entering inventory incorrectly or entering the wrong discount, accidental losses can add up. A POS system with built-in training tools can help ensure that your employees are well-trained on store policies and procedures.
We hope you found this article useful.
If you are a Toronto retailer, you can also download the following PDF for step-by-step instructions on how to report a retail crime.
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.
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 clicks. Cashiers 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.
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 Accessibility: More 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 POSis 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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
2) Offer a buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS) option
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:
Optimizing the customer experience by ensuring that shoppers are never disappointed (e.g. products are out of stock) when they get to the store.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
We hope you found this article helpful!
Join our beta waitlist here. In the meantime, you can subscribe to our blog for more helpful retail tips and strategies!
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.
We hope you found this article helpful!
Join our beta waitlist here and in the meantime subscribe to our blog for the latest retail news and tips.
A point of sale system is demonstrably the most important tool you can have when running a retail business.
In fact, retail stores that invest in a strong POS system are quick to see a huge return on investment.
A retail POS can help you save time and money by streamlining repetitive tasks, maintaining business records, and reducing human error. Even better, it can even help grow your retail business with useful data and marketing integrations.
Keep reading to find out more about how your retail business can benefit from a POS system.
What is a Retail POS?
Traditionally POS stands for “point of sale” – which refers to the place where a customer transaction occurs. Or in simpler terms, the point at which a customer hands over money in exchange for a product that they’ve purchased.
For many retailers, this usually means the area surrounding the checkout line. For retailers who adopt cloud POS or mobile POS solutions, their whole store essentially becomes a point of sale.
What is a Retail POS System?
To better manage in-store checkout, retail POS systems were created. The original POS systems were a combination of hardware and software that retailers used to manage their sales operations. Because POS systems are the only source of all detailed store sales, they eventually expanded to include everything from tracking customer history and taxes reports to advanced marketing and inventory management.
Retail POS Software
Today, there are 2 main types of retail POS systems in the market: on-premise software and cloud-based subscriptions.
On-premise POS software: This type of software is installed on specific devices and usually does not rely on the Internet because the data is stored on the same devices. Because the database is stored “locally” in a specific server computer in your store, you can only access the data when you are in the store.
Cloud-based POS software: Cloud software stores data in an off-site cloud server (often hosted by a major cloud hosting service such as Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure) and is accessed via the Internet. You can compare it to writing a report on Google Docs. As long as you have an Internet connection, you can access your report from anywhere. While there may be some limitations without Internet access with cloud systems, there are major gains in remote accessibility, cost-savings and real-time data accuracy. Click here for more information on the benefits of cloud-based retail POS software
There is also a 3rd type of “hybrid” retail POS system which combines a hardwired local connection with access to data in the cloud. While this type of solution reduces the reliance on Internet, it is often a more complex system to maintain and more commonly used by larger operations. At the same time, because it is designed to allow for longer offline use, there is greater potential for issues with data quality during “synchronization” of online and offline data.
Expert Tip! It’s also important to note that offline usage and “data integrity” actually work against each other. While it is key for operations to have usable salesscreen functions (or alternative ways of processing sales) when the internet or network is down, the quality of the pooled data is lower and less accurate the more often the stations in a POS are “offline.” So if getting accurate, accessible business data from anywhere is a major priority, it’s important to consider a system which prioritizes real-time data accuracy with fast and reliable data sharing and considers offline usage for emergency scenarios only. Systems that prioritize offline capabilities over the data sharing functionality will be designed for infrequent synchronization. While this may not be a concern for certain types of businesses, the reality is that omnichannel retailers that need real-time stock quantity and even restaurants that take online orders need accurate POS data to make better operational decisions. After all, customers now expect real-time information when they intend to shop or order something. It’s another reason why smart POS is now able to automatically help merchants update correct store information or product stock levels in real-time.
Retail POS Hardware
POS hardware includes all of the physical components of your POS system. It is usually comprised of the following items:
1. POS terminal: This is the hardware or device (computer, laptop, desktop etc.) that the POS software runs on.
Traditional, on-premise systems have limitations when it comes to hardware. This is because most on-premise solutions can only operate on certain devices and operating systems (such as Windows or Mac).
To use on-premise POS software, a license must be installed on each device that a merchant wishes to operate on. At the same time, licenses are often tied to the hardware they are installed on and can be difficult or costly to transfer to other devices.
For newer, cloud-based POS software, merchants can use any device with Internet connectivity to access their data – laptops, tablets, desktops and even mobile phones. Cloud POS software does not require merchants to pay per device, rather merchants often pay per active station (or users logged in at the same time). Transferable access offers multi-channel merchants a lot more flexibility when managing store operations.
2. Cash Drawer: A cash drawer is an important yet simple part of a retail POS system. This piece of hardware provides both security and organization to retailers. It is where cash, coins, checks and credit card receipts are stored.
The receipt printer will send signals to the cash drawer, prompting it to open when necessary.
3. Barcode Scanner: Barcode scanners are an important part of most retail stores. Compared to restaurants, retailers carry a lot more inventory and need to use barcode scanners to make checkout an easier and faster process for both store employees and shoppers. Scanners use lasers to read barcode numbers unique to each SKU and enter these numbers immediately in the POS software.
While most retail POS systems should be designed specifically for barcode scanners, it is important for there to be other search methods should barcode tags get damaged or lost. Without scanners, cashiers should be able to quickly search by product codes or keyword for each item in the store.
Expert Tip! Unless a retail store has a very low number of inventory items (e.g. coffee shop), the default salesscreen mode should be designed for barcode scanners. The picture gallery touchscreen mode commonly found in tablet-based POS was traditionally designed for restaurants where the number of inventory items is very low and is generally not efficient in retail stores with more than 500 unique SKUs. While some POS providers will serve both restaurants and retailers, if the default salesscreen is designed for touchscreen picture gallery, most likely the company that developed the original software started with a restaurant POS and later retrofit it for retail.
4. Receipt Printer: Once a customer pays for the items that they have purchased, cashiers will usually hand them a receipt to confirm payment. While email receipts are increasingly popular, the majority of receipts are still printed based on the data received from the POS software.
There are three ways that credit card terminals can accept credit or debit payments:
1) Using chip & PIN cards: Where shoppers insert chip & PIN cards to make a purchase. This type of payment is EMV-compliant and the most secure of the 3 types.
2) Swiping card magstripes: Where shoppers swipe their cards in order to make a payment. This type of payment is not EMV compliant and opens the merchant up to chargebacks on all payments processed.
3) Near-field-communication (NFC): Where shoppers use their devices (Apple or Google Pay) or simply tap their cards to pay. This type of payment is the fastest of the 3. While tap is not as risky as magstripes (it is generally only allowed for individual payments of up to $100), in a busy store, this can be costly as the merchant is still fully liable for any chargebacks.
3 Reasons Why Your Retail Store Needs a POS System
Adopting a POS software that is designed for checkout speed will help speed up store operations and improve shopper satisfaction. This is especially important for busy multi-lane stores as they often deal with long line-ups.
Faster checkout is also key to increasing revenue during high season or rush periods. The longer your customers wait in line, the slower your turnover and lower your sales.
Here are some checkout features to look out for when choosing a retail POS software designed for fast checkout:
Easy navigation: Look for a software that is designed for checkout speed and minimum clicks. You shouldn’t have to leave your salescreen in order to complete a transaction.
Fast scanning speed: Retail POS software should be designed for quick barcode scanning with easy recall of your last search. Make sure that the system you’re looking at is able to handle multiple barcodes per SKU as every retail product commonly has an internal code, a shortcode, a vendor code, a manufacturer code and possibly several carton codes.
Advanced inventory search: Besides barcode scanning speed, a retail POS software designed to handle high volume inventory or a large number of transactions quickly needs to be able to have smart search functions including keyword search by description, barcode or tag should labels not be scannable, etc.
If you want more information about adopting a line busting retail POS software that is designed for checkout speed, click here.
2) Increased Mobility
Retail POS systems – cloud POS software in particular, provide retailers with more flexibility and mobility. As data is stored in the cloud, store owners can access their business information around the clock from anywhere – even if they are not physically in the store. They can view inventory levels, tax reports and sales data right from the comfort of home or even on vacation. Well-designed cloud POS software can also function on any device – from tablets, laptops to smartphones.
3) The Ability to Use the POS Data for Retail Marketing
POS data is critical to the success of any business. This is because data provides retailers with the tools to effectively manage inventory, sales, and finances.
Besides standard sales and inventory reports, modern cloud-based retail POS systems help store owners sell more using their own POS data. Because cloud POS are particularly good at integrating with other cloud solutions, real-time store data can be shared other solutions such as e-commerce platforms, shipping services or listings such as Google My Business, which help improve SEO and drive more local foot traffic to stores.
We will be posting more POS tips in the upcoming weeks.
Subscribe to our blog to stay updated on the latest retail marketing trends, POS tips, and industry updates.