Think about the last time you bought something from a shop. First the staff member scans the products barcode, then you pay for your purchase with cash or card (card being way more popular), and finally you get your receipt and you leave the shop with a smile and a wave.
As simple as this process was for you, it’s only one component in the whole workflow. Firstly some company somewhere manufactures the item, then the wholesalers distribute it, and retailers purchase it, and it goes on a shelf, where you come along and purchase it.
However, how does the retailer keep track of it all? With their POS system, of course.
The definition of point of sale or POS for short is simple it’s the time and place where a retail transaction is completed retailers compile POS data so it can be sent to manufacturers of consumable and food products on a weekly basis
The point of sale system provides real time data for retailers to know what is selling where and when. For example, the POS system reports how many products have been sold, how many have been returned, how many are left in the shop’s inventory on hand, and more.
Retailers use this information to help predict future sales, and know what quantities to order of each product and when. The POS systems help determine whether a certain product is a best seller, or not based on quantity sold and inventory levels.
If a retailer is thinking about discounting a best seller item, they need to know how many they have in stock – perhaps a thousand items is good, or only a hundred are left in inventory. If there are 5,000 items left in inventory, selling a dozen a week isn’t good at all.
Other important factors to consider are seasonal data and locations. For instance, maybe in May every year, people are more likely to buy winter coats in Melbourne than in Sydney. Maybe in Autumn, soup sells well in Perth but not in Adelaide, etc.
So both small stores and large national companies can look at their POS data, and adjust their purchase and inventory levels accordingly.
Point of sale systems can provide all this data with a few keystrokes, as opposed to years ago, where staff members would have to manually stocktake all the time, to keep an idea as to what is selling and when.
But POS features don’t just stop at inventory control. Many point of sale systems have gift voucher capabilities, frequent shopper programs, mobile checkout, integration with online stores and a stack of other great features. They pretty much cover many of the features in marketing software as well.
There are specific point of sale systems for some industries, like restaurants and hospitality, versus supermarkets. Petrol stations tend to have different software needs yet again.
Features such as customer-facing displays are great too; this means that customers can watch as transactions happen, and they can have a high level of transparency into the transaction, which helps them feel assured that it is correct.
A number of POS systems also allow for screen savers, showing branded specials and the like. There are even point of sales apps for mobile phones, so people can take orders or make sales at the local weekend markets.
Most POS systems also allow insights into your employees. This allows you to see who is selling the most, who is selling the least, when your busy hours and days are, and much more more.
Nearly every retailer in Australia has a point of sale system now, and it’s no wonder why; they have changed the productivity of shops, nation wide.