Insight on POS Solution Selection for Independent Merchants
Maximize the Investment in Your POS Solution
As a POS (point-of-sale) solution provider, we see a great deal of underutilization of functions and features far too often. Business owners make the commitment and the investment to automate their retail or hospitality operations. Typically, a great deal of time and energy is invested in selecting the appropriate solution provider. However, after implementation, many POS solutions quickly become glorified and expensive cash registers.
Sometimes, this situation is the fault of the solution provider. Failure to educate the merchant on features that might provide additional benefits obviously results in the underutilization of the complete POS solution. Failure to provide proper training on these functions results in the same failure. Other times, the merchant is at fault by ignoring the power and potential financial gains that can be realized by taking full advantage of the power of the POS solution.
Being that this opportunity is a two-way street, we would like to offer some insight on features and benefits we see as underutilized in the field every day. In order to maximize the return on investment for a POS system, it is critical that the merchant take full advantage of all the solution has to offer. In rare occasions, there are situations where the efficiencies gained provide enough savings to the operator to justify the cost in time, energy and money used in a POS deployment. However, most times there are opportunities left on the table due to ignorance and/or underutilization of the power of POS.
The reality is that a solid POS solution should do much more than save the merchant time and money through efficiencies. The solution should also provide marketing and revenue generating functions that can transform the POS from a cost item to a profit generator. This provides the win-win scenario that all business transactions should contain. The solution provider is able to charge more for licensing and services while the merchant gains both efficiencies and ways to generate additional revenues.
Some examples of these underutilized and under-deployed functions are:
1. Email/SMS Marketing – Most independent merchants have something in place in this area. Companies like Constant Contact, MailChimp, HubSpot, etc provide powerful solutions for communicating with customers and prospects. However, merchants often fail to utilize the power of the POS data that is gathered over time. When the POS solution has its own email/SMS marketing component, extremely targeted communication can be sent based on purchase history, frequency of visit, loyalty levels, preferred products and services, etc. If no internal marketing platform exists, it is still wise for the merchant to analyze this POS data and utilize it through 3rd party providers like the ones mentioned above.
2. Gift Card Processing and Promotion – Providing gift cards through the POS system can increase revenues significantly. There are many published findings on this topic. But, it is far too much information for the purposes of this blog. However, ignoring this opportunity is like a merchant refusing to accept free money. This is also a great opportunity for gaining brand new customers when these cards are passed along as gifts.
3. Customer Loyalty Programs – Most POS solutions offer integrated customer loyalty. Some solutions provide internal programs. Others utilize 3rd party integration. Some combine the two offering complete flexibility. In any case, we have found that many merchants fail to take full advantage of these features. Whether it is time and effort or luck and happenstance that brings a customer to a merchant, the onus is on the merchant to give them every reason to return and spend more money in the future. Utilizing a loyalty program via the POS system is a simple and cost-effective way to accomplish this.
4. Integrated E-commerce – Many brick-and-mortar merchants extend their offerings to the entire planet by offering integrated e-commerce solutions. Most POS solutions provide some type of integrated e-commerce platform. However, surprisingly enough, many merchants still offer only traditional POS commerce where the consumer must have a physical presence at the merchant’s location to make a purchase. E-commerce provides convenience to the consumer, extends the reach of the merchant geographically and opens the store to the worldwide audience.
5. POS-integrated Marketing/Promotional Tools – If the POS solution offers emailing of receipts, the merchant gains the power of gathering customer data for future promotion. Further, the body of the email should contain marketing messages to promote the merchant and return visits in addition to the transactional information. Customer displays attached to the POS system should promote in-store marketing messages. Paper receipts should contain some type of marketing messages. Coupons generated through the POS system can promote future visits to the establishment. The list goes on. These various items are simple yet powerful and often overlooked or ignored by merchants.
The bottom line is that the POS solution deployed by merchants should not be viewed as an expense. It can actually be a powerful revenue generator. The difference is often in proper deployment, training and the operator recognizing this concept instead of only factoring gained efficiencies into the POS ROI calculation.