This is going to sound weird, but you really should love your Point of Sale. Thought exercise: another business owner you know says she’s shopping for a good POS for her store, and what do you think of yours? If your answer is something like Yeah, I like it alright, then you’re probably not getting the most out of it. Or you have a terrible system. The latter might be the case, but before you rip everything out and start from scratch it’s worth double checking to see whether it might just be you that’s the terrible part of the system. I mean that in a loving and supportive way, I swear. I’m here to help. The fact is, though, you should be raving about how much easier it is to run your business with your POS. Because if you’re not raving, then what did that investment get you? Check this list to see if you’re guilty of any of these end-user lapses:

  1. You haven’t read the manual. This one is geared mostly towards the men out there; that might sound like a stereotype, but sometimes they happen to be true–like that all politicians are dishonest, or that all white people love stereotypes. Here’s the thing, though: the manual often clues you into features you never knew you needed or weren’t aware existed. So, fellas, you can still go the DIY route. Set it up yourself without ever reading a page of the help files. But when you’re done, go and peruse the support site and read up on all the other things you didn’t do (or even knew you could do).

    Photo by Paul Cross (Flickr)

    Photo by Paul Cross (Flickr)

  2. You didn’t hire a consultant to help with the set up. This kind of goes with the first one. But if you’re running a more complex environment–especially in hospitality, with all its moving parts and opportunity for error–it’s good to have someone with expertise to guide you through and set you up properly. Getting a pro to handle things like entering in your menu as recipes–with each ingredient tracked separately–and having the POS monitor waste will cost a fraction of what that level of inventory control can save you over the long term. And while you might be content to just add all your products in, a good consultant can go further into set up by tagging your products with descriptive keywords.
  3. You’re not tagging your products with descriptive keywords. The data you get out of your POS’s reporting function is only as good as the data that you put into it. Enter your products into the POS and you can find out that you sell more sweaters in the colder months, more t-shirts in the warmer months. You’ll get an idea of how many you have to buy for next year, but this isn’t exactly groundbreaking information. Tag those same sweaters and t-shirts with their colors, and you’ll find that when you did sell t-shirts in the cooler months, they tend to be green and brown–you probably don’t need to stock all the white ones, then. Add on a tag for the fabric used–cotton shirts, cotton/poly blend, etc.–and when one of those tags starts to show up repeatedly in a customer’s profile, you’ve got deeper insight into that customer. You are creating and updating a database of your customers, right?
  4. You’re not creating and updating a database of your customers. The most basic of info is all that’s needed to setup a customer profile in your POS–usually just a name and e-mail address or phone number. And once that profile is setup, you’re positioned to start developing a long-term relationship with that customer. You’ll know everything he’s ever bought or ordered from you, when he’s likely to return, what his preferences are, how much he generally spends. This is all the kind of info you need to create hyper-personalised offers and rewards for him. You’ll have a direct line to your customers to get them to come back, and you’ll know exactly what’s most likely to get them through the doors. You can also integrate that customer database with third party loyalty add-ons, and your accounting software, and marketing apps. You are extending the use of your POS with third party add-ons, right?

    Holding your customer's card hostage until they win a staring contest is not an effective way to create memorable retail experiences.Photo by Alan Cleaver (Flickr)

    Holding your customer’s card hostage until they win a staring contest is not an effective way to create memorable retail experiences.
    Photo by Alan Cleaver (Flickr)

  5. You’re not extending the use of your POS with third party add-ons. There a lot of POS systems that try to cover it all, adding e-commerce, or loyalty, or employee scheduling, but that’s spreading the software too thin. Your POS can and should do a few things very well, and then leave some of the more specialized tasks to the specialists. By integrating with third party apps, you can create an entire software ecosystem that addresses all your needs. You can take online and mobile orders and have them appear directly on your POS, tied to a customer profile that then updates their loyalty profile, while the revenue from the order goes to your accounting software, and also to your scheduling software to help you determine labor cost of that revenue. And that’s just a small example.

So, how about it?  Are these things you haven’t done, or are you just now learning that you could even do stuff like this with a POS?  Fix that! It’s within your power to get the most out of your POS. And if you find that your POS can’t do even one of these things that I’m recommending, it’s time to look for a new one.

  • Joshua Harrison

    Awesome article Dave!