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If you have ever bought anything online from a regular retailer, tried to then return it to a traditional retail store, and then been told that “online is separate from us” then you will no doubt have been very frustrated.

In the modern era, multi-channel point of sale (POS) systems are available and used to great effect by a lot of small businesses. It is somewhat puzzling, therefore, that some of the biggest and supposedly most successful retailers in the world are unable to differentiate between one avenue and the other, especially when they promote themselves as customer service leaders and industry giants.

As it stands then, multi-channel POS is a great way for smaller businesses to get a leg up on their competitors. What are the biggest advantages of multi-channel POS and how are they best utilised?

One Inventory = Easy Accounting

Just to touch on the problem explored right at the very top, you often get the excuse that there is no way to account for e-commerce sales that are returned to a physical location. You will never have this problem, and you will even be able to have things on sale both online and in your physical retail store at the same time.

Multi-channel POS will bring your whole inventory together under one roof, so to speak, so that you do not need to keep separate records and accounting practices for your retail store and eCommerce business. You can even be alerted to when someone has purchased something online, so you can remove it from sale in your store right away if it is one of the last ones. You will also get low stock alerts and many other reports that will enable you to successfully run a multi-channel business.

Multi-channel POS can be an excellent tool for enabling existing e-commerce businesses to successfully integrate a new physical retail store.  In this regard, it can also be excellent for keeping track of inventory levels across an entire business, for example if additional stores are opened during a business expansion.

Market Research

In many respects, multi-channel POS is in effect a type of free, and most importantly accurate, market research. If something is selling well through your e-commerce store but not in the actual shop, you can see this easily, and if you have the financial capital will be able to source different stock to have on sale in the store in place of the popular e-commerce item. In this respect, multi-channel POS will enable you to pro-actively tailor your online and physical offer to the needs of each type of customer.

This will again be true in respect of having more than one retail unit trading at one time.  As the business owner, you will have a lot more freedom and visibility over the allocation of stock, so if a particular item sells well in store A but is not as popular in store B, you can rebalance the inventory levels accordingly to ensure you are not holding stock that does not sell in particular locations.  This in particular will help to drive typical retail performance metrics, such as revenue per square foot and gross margin.

Money Saving

Not only will both of the features already mentioned save you money, but multi-channel POS could save your business in the long-term.

The live reporting features will allow you to build a picture of how successful your store is against e-commerce, and if your store sales are not profitable enough, you can then take steps to give up your building and operate exclusively online, which could make your business even more successful.  Crucially, in parts of a retail business that require a great deal of financial commitment, for example stock ordering, you will be able to have a lot more visibility and make decisions in a much more positive manner than before, such will be the knowledge and depth of information you have armed yourself with.

Posterita is a revolutionary retail software for businesses. Posterita allows multi stores to manage their operations via an online platform.