Technology always come with a cost as well as a benefit and often it needs time to mature and become more affordable before the benefit is within the reach of SMEs. Now POS systems have reached that stage.
From Luxury to Commodity
Just like computers and mobile phones, POS systems have steadily become more capable and more affordable as well as smaller. These days there are now systems which can use Android tablets and Ipads as well as smartphones, some of these are run from the tablet itself and others are cloud based, meaning that the bulk of the work is done on somebody else’s more powerful computer.
From Chaos to Order
Of course, just because a piece of technology has become affordable, it doesn’t mean that a small business has to go out and buy it. It’s only worth the money if it actually brings a benefit. In the case of POS systems however, the benefits are similar regardless of the size of the company.
Businesses are often referred to as organizations for a very good reason. You can have the best product or service in the world, but it takes organization to get it out to the customer.
One of the biggest benefits to many SMEs is the ability to track inventory accurately. This enables businesses to identify not only where there are differences between what they think they ought to have and what is actually there, but also to track at what point they diverge. Obviously this relies on regular stock taking, but bar code scanning has made this a much easier proposition.
While the obvious reason for stock shrinkage is theft, either by staff or by customers, there are a number of other possible reasons which can go unnoticed. For example if fresh food is stored in an inappropriate location, it can easily go off and unless staff are recording this properly instead of just throwing it out, it will simply disappear off the books.
From Administration to Service
One of the other great benefits to POS systems is the ability to automate basic administrative functions. For example, without a POS system, either each item must be priced individually, or you have to rely on price lists or the memory of staff. None of these solutions are particularly convenient, especially if you want to run promotions.
Using a POS system you can simply attach a price notice to the front of the shelf and enter it once into the POS. Thereafter all staff need to do is scan the item using the bar code.
From Service to Management
POS systems provide data, human business owners can turn this into information to help them position their business to meet the needs of their customers. For example, through your traditional system, you may know that you sell X pints of milk a day. Using a POS system, you may discover that 80% of these sales take place in the early evening during the week. If you know that most of your customers are workers, the chances are they are buying a pint of milk on their way home for the next morning. This being so, you might wish to try to up sell, by offering a promotion on a treat item if bought at the same time as the milk.
The author spent 15 years in financial services, of which 10 were spent working for Visa. After escaping she now works full-time as a freelance writer and translator, specializing in topics related to business and finance. When not working, she enjoys going for long walks with her dog and playing poker.