Getting something new for the holidays should be on everybody’s list this year, even if you have to get it yourself. And what better gift for the small business owner than a system to track inventory and sales, integrate a store location with an eCommerce store, and work with the back office accounting software? It’s called a point-of-sale system, and it’s the hottest gift small business person on your list.
When you’re thinking about getting a POS, there are lots of different things to consider. It’s a really good thing that price is no longer one of them. There was a time when a computer-based point-of-sale system was for the big players only, and cost upwards of $20,000 for each station. While looking at a traditional point-of-sale cash wrap the cost can still be pretty intimidating, but there are alternatives out there for more suitable for smaller businesses that are still growing. Tablet-based point-of-sale systems are scalable and flexible additions to any business, capable of integrating your store or stockroom and your back office. The tablet acts as a CPU for your point-of-sale and with web-based software will find yourself capable of generating enough information to really make some good positive changes for your store.
Head in the Clouds
You might be asking what does the cloud have to do with anything? Once a buzzword solely for the geek literate, cloud-based software and storage solutions have brought down the price of accounting software, creative suites, and productivity suites. Cloud-based storage has fueled the expansion of e-commerce platforms like Shopify, that offer high-end websites with high-end features even the smallest businesses.
Software in storage as service is what enables the tablet-based point-of-sale system to be such an effective tool for small business. In fact, Inc. magazine projects that in less than six years, 80 percent of small businesses will be using cloud-based tools for their daily operations.
By using cloud-based solutions you can also have a scalable system no matter how many locations you have or individual stations you deploy. Control is centralized with varying levels of access controlled by passwords. So you could easily create policies such as having a manager approve returns or refunds, while allowing sales associates only basic access or ringing up sales. And with cloud-based software will always be able to keep an eye on the store from no matter where you are. Thinking of your point-of-sale system as part of your security setup makes a lot of sense. Security cameras can only show you when something has gone wrong. The Houston Chronicle points out that your point-of-sale system can actually prevent or even reverse the shrinkage that you may not even know about. Shrinkage is 50 percent internal thefts, 30 percent shoplifting, and 20 percent user errors or other factors. Keeping an eye on the cash drawer and the inventory with information rich reports means that there are fewer opportunities for errors or other actions more deliberate.
The basic principle of inventory control, according to logistics management, is to streamline your ordering so that the flow of goods to your store is enough to satisfy your customers’ needs, while at the same time minimizing your cash outlay. The first step to inventory control is creating a live inventory. Taking your inventory live is a multistep process. If you normally close to take inventory at the end of the year that would be an ideal time to begin implementing your new point-of-sale. You will need to create a master list of all the products that you have in stock. Then you will need to create barcodes for them if they do not already exist, and sticker everything you have preparatory to beginning the inventory. Proceed sequentially with each staff member assigned to a specific area where they will scan every item into stock, and then mark the section complete with a sticker or a Post-It so that items are not double counted. You may find that there are significant discrepancies between what your new life inventory shows and what you thought you had. You will need to reconcile this new inventory with your previous accountings.
While it may seem like a lot of work for a present, you will find that a point-of-sale system is the gift that keeps on giving. Inventory management, and data driven ordering policies can help you to streamline both your cash flow and the flow of products from receiving to your showroom or Internet store. It’s also absolutely critical that you do not forget to implement policies that will keep your inventory data to date, and have all users on the system abide by them. Failing to abide by these policies will turn your life inventory into a zo