Retailers – are constantly looking for ways to improve store sales. In some cases, they can find answers in streamlining the purchase process. In others, it's improving inventory turnover. No matter what a given retailer's approach might be, point-of-sale technology provides one answer. If they take it one step further with mobile connectivity, they'll encounter even more benefits.
In fact, you may have already seen this happening in places like the Apple Store. It's amazing, for reasons I'll detail below.
However there's a huge technology gap. While we all encourage field service reps to help retail customers in-store, they don't have the same tools as the retail sales associates. That needs to change. I argue that somebody needs to start working on a technology that brings everything below to every rep who walks into a store.
Are their security concerns? Of course. Data issues? Certainly. But should this be done? Absolutely. Because of the awesome benefits to the retailer, and therefore the entire supply chain. Specifically...
Some of the benefits of POS systems are:
- empowering sales staff
- optimizing inventory management
- improving customer relationships
- sharpening sales forecasting
Without a solid point-of-sale system, retailers are left with manual, outdated process that are full of errors, delays, and unhappy customers.
Optimize sales staff (Including brand ambassadors from vendors and MSO's)
Do you think retail sales associates have every detail on every product they carry locked in their mind, ready to share with customers while they browse your showroom? NO! Or more specifically, does one brand ambassador know where various products or categories are? Or have product knowledge about every SKU?
So, do you think giving them a digital catalog with in-depth details about each brand would be helpful. Heck, yes! A quality POS system records information from color and size options, country of origin, even promotional offers. They don't have to study a product guide before they hit the floor.
Along with details about products that customers might be interested in, a POS system give sales associates the opportunity to quickly upsell a customer while they stand in front of a display. Some systems enable associates to access your website right on the spot as well.
Most valuable POS software programs either contain built-in inventory management capabilities or integrate with a dedicated IM app. You don't need to hand-count shelf space except when performing cycle counts. This accelerates the process of determining which items are good sellers and which ones need to be replaced. Retailers don't have to run out of best sellers anymore, or waste shelf space with duds. And as a field rep, this level of visibility helps you identify and better position/promote your 'duds' in addition to the POS data you may already be using.
It also reduces count times, leaving more time for sales staff to meet with customers. And you're able to improve order accuracy and limit just-in-time deliveries.
Maximize customer relationships
When you have a point-of-sale system that links to a customer relationship management system, the opportunity to lift sales is incredible. You'll start to recognize buying patterns, identify buyer preferences, and target your marketing efforts in a more rewarding way.
By requesting a few bits of personal information, your sales staff can retrieve existing customers' purchase histories, in-store habits, preferences, even their pets' names. This information can be used to make special offers, create customer loyalty programs, and more. You end up building customer loyalty, improving sales volume, and streamlining their shopping experiences.
And, yes, this is one of the dangerous areas of sharing data. I get it that retailers will never share their loyalty information outside their firewall. For the good of the industry, there needs to be some level of sharing, but I'll leave that for another debate.
Now, wouldn't it be helpful to have better sales forecasting ability? With a good POS system in place, you can make more informed forecasts. Having sales data at your fingertips reduces the time it takes to develop or modify a forecast. This helps manage ordering activities, anticipate cash flow, and limit returns, among other benefits. You'll can accurately plan for growth and reduce carryover.
This data can then be shared, as needed, to help field sales and service reps better understand buying patterns, and therefore become more relevant to the retail customers.
Break up those long lines! Customers typically don't enjoy waiting in long lines at checkout. With mobile point-of-sale equipment in the hands of the combined retailer/brand-ambassador sales team, retailers can dramatically reduce checkout lines and provide customers with the same type of seamless experience they've become accustomed to when shopping online.
Mobile POS systems allow retailers to be nimble and on the move constantly, feeding the on-the-go lifestyle customers are expecting. Retailers can even extend their customer-facing activities by operating at remote locations, such as mall kiosks, pop-up shops, craft fairs and other remote locations. All this without losing access to credit card processing tools, product libraries, and customer information.
Importantly, much of the capabilities mentioned above already exist in the ESP Focus application, but at a manufacturer-specific level. So what I'm proposing in this article is as a next wave of technology, let's start working on a safe, secure way to put store-wide information in the palm of field worker's hands that increases retail sales, margin, and traffic -- while also greatly enhancing the shopping experience! We have LOT of retailers who subscribe to this blog and our other social media channels, so if you want to be part of this effort, reach out to me and I'll make sure you're included.
In an age where ecommerce continues to take a bite out of retail sales, point-of-sale systems – especially those with mobile capabilities – help to compete with online retailing by modernizing and optimizing your retail operations. With mobile POS systems, you've can level the playing field and make the in-store experience enjoyable and rewarding.