Most small business owners have, at one time or another, pondered the question of whether they truly need point of sale systems. In an overwhelming number of cases, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Small businesses benefit from POS systems because the technology helps to:
– Increase profits. POS systems bolster profits in several ways. Perhaps most importantly, such systems allow small businesses (and large ones, for that matter) to closely monitor all sales, ensuring that every item consumed in or sold by the establishment was indeed paid for—and in the right amount. This dissuades employees from outright theft as well as from offering unauthorized discounts or “freebies” to their friends or family members. It cuts down on waste, too.
Point of sale systems also up the profits ante by improving transaction accuracy, increasing margins and facilitating credit card processing. How? For one thing, POS systems have touchscreens with preset price keys—so employees no longer make mistakes or guess what prices should be when processing transactions. For another, the fact that such systems generate detailed sales reports means small business owners can identify which items bring in the highest profits and which are under-performing. Finally, the integrated credit card processing capabilities featured on most POS systems slash expenses by eliminating extra phone lines and the need for separate card readers, as well as by reducing fees charged by credit card processors. The latter tend to be higher when credit card information is not captured by an integrated payment processing solution.
– Tighten inventory control. With POS systems in place, it’s easy for small business owners to immediately determine how much of a particular item sold during a prescribed time period, as well as to pinpoint the cash receipts that should be in the cash drawer.
Additionally, because point of sale systems produce detailed sales reports, operators can make decisions based on facts rather than estimates. For example, they can leverage historical sales data to predict future inventory needs, and sales data breakdowns by item can be used to compare existing inventory against anticipated requirements—in both cases permitting adjustments to be made before they have a negative impact on sales. Detailed sales reports produced by POS systems also enable operators to easily zero in on and proactively address the potential for waste.
– Enhance labor management. Comprehensive POS systems have integrated time and attendance and labor management modules. This provides instant access to all labor- and scheduling-related information and facilitates comparisons of restaurant or store traffic patterns with staffing levels. This results in a business always having the right amount of help at the store.
– Yield owner/operator time savings. POS systems drastically decrease the amount of time spent on paper-based tasks. Instead of manually calculating sales, labor usage, taxes, inventory levels and much more, operators can simply obtain the necessary information right from the POS database. Time saved can then be devoted to initiatives that help build the business—such as coming up with new promotions or devising new menu items.
– Increase speed of service. In restaurants, POS systems can be configured to interface with computers and printers in the kitchen. Instead of bringing paper orders to the kitchen, servers can enter order information into the POS system for automatic transmission there. This not only speeds up service; it also allows servers to improve the dining experience of customers.
– Facilitate marketing efforts. With POS systems in place, operators can gather contact information for their best customers as part of a standard transaction. The information can then be used to generate lists of recipients of targeted promotion and loyalty offers. Customers can also be segmented by personal preferences, as identified through collected POS data.
Admittedly, the prospect of spending what can be a significant sum of money on POS systems can be a daunting one for small business owners. However, as seen here, the benefits to be gleaned from these systems make them a truly worthwhile investment.