It’s time to make it official: the cash register is dead. This obsolete technology is ready to go the way of cassette tapes, clunky GSM mobiles, and pagers. Into the trash.
Using an old-fashioned cash register in this day and age is like trying to manage your accounting with an abacus: it’s simply insufficient when it comes to dealing with the complexities of modern businesses.
And make no mistake: modern retail and hospitality operations are more complex than ever. Supply chains and inventory are increasingly intricate and difficult to manage. Brand image and identity has never mattered more. Customers’ expectations are high, and with the global reach of sounding boards like Twitter or Yelp, their satisfaction has never been more critical to your success.
But what does all that have to do with your cash register?
Everything. Your point-of-sale system should be intricately involved in all aspects of your business – from inventory and accounting to marketing and customer relationship management. If it’s not, I’ve got bad news: you don’t have a POS system, you have a cash register.
And it bears repeating: the cash register is dead.
This was best illustrated earlier this year, when Amazon opened its first-ever Amazon Go storefront in the United States, doing away with the cash register altogether and integrating its POS system into, well, everything.
Hailed as the store model of the future, Amazon Go has completely eliminated the need for checkout counters: customers simply scan their way in via the Amazon Go smartphone app, and each item they put in their shopping bag is automatically billed to their Amazon account once they leave the store. Inventory is automated, and CRM is optimized.
And the data they’re getting from all of this is invaluable.
Imagine not only knowing what items each customer bought, but which items they considered buying, only to ultimately put back on the shelves? These kinds of insights could revolutionize your business.
Maybe we’re still a while off from seeing the Amazon Go model go global, but the truth is that good modern POS systems are already doing most of the things that Amazon Go has made headlines for.
If your point-of-sale system isn’t doing much more than tabulating totals, then you’re probably wasting precious time, money, and resources that could ultimately be channeled in better directions.
In fact, your POS applications should be automating around 95 percent of your operations. If they’re not, it’s time to show them the door.
Is your POS a waste of space, or is it helping streamline and improve your operations? Here are seven essential tasks that your POS system should absolutely do:
1. Accounting and ERP software
This is really the bare minimum that any modern POS system should do. Today, there’s simply no excuse for shuffling through reams of paper receipts in order to balance the books.
Ideally, a good POS system will have its own built-in accounting system, but if it doesn’t, it at least needs to be able to integrate with external finance and accounting applications.
In fact, your POS should also feature a comprehensive enterprise resource planning (ERP) module, allowing you to better optimize all aspects of your operations.
2. Provide comprehensive analytics and reporting
Data is king, and a smart POS system allows you to capture tons of it. But a great POS system should do more than just collect data: it should be able to provide you with comprehensive, insightful analytics based on that data.
What are your customers’ favorite items? Which items are most profitable? Which items are moving the least? Which of your employees is best at upselling? Which of your ingredients are about to expire?
Your POS should be able to answer all these questions – and many, many more – instantaneously. If it can’t, you’re missing out on some truly business optimizing insights – and your bottom line could be suffering.
3. Manage inventory in real time
Let’s say you’re a restaurateur who’s always on top of inventory: you keep a close eye on all the products and ingredients in your kitchen. But then your supplier shows up one afternoon to take your order, and while you might have checked inventory in the morning, you had an unexpected rush just an hour or two earlier. Your supplier needs your order now, and you don’t have an up-to-date report.
It’s a recipe for potential disaster – and a recipe you probably won’t have all the ingredients for!
If you don't have integrated real-time inventory module, one thing’s for sure: inventory is probably one of your biggest headaches. Even with the utmost diligence and continuous inventory checks (a huge waste of time and manpower), you’re still going to run into problems.
Maybe they won’t be as critical as KFC’s recent inventory disaster, when they ran out of chicken, and then gravy, across most of their UK outlets – leading them to close around 600 restaurant branches for several days – but it’s still something that can largely be avoided with a smart POS.
4. Serve as a comprehensive, intelligence CRM platform
Customer relationship management, loyalty marketing, managing complaints, customer SMS and email shots… your POS should handle all of it.
A smart POS allows you to connect more effectively and resonantly with consumers, by using comprehensive data, reporting, and insights to engage more meaningfully.
Hosting a special promotion on a new item? Target customers who love similar products.
Looking to increase in-store spending? Find out how to build loyalty schemes that keep your customers coming back for more.
5. Manage and monitor your employees
Yes, a smart POS system can be used for your employees to clock in and out – but it should also do so much more than that.
Your point-of-sale technology should also be able to monitor your employees’ performances: how well do they manage customers? How often do they upsell? Do they take too many breaks?
Perhaps even more critically, a smart POS can play a major role in preventing employee thefts, through the implementation of a smart drawer, which not only keeps track of how much money is in it at all times, but also monitors how long it’s left open – allowing you to take note of suspicious behavior, cut down on potential losses, and keep your team members on the up-and-up.
6. Incorporate tablets for waiters and hostesses to serve clients
There are so many benefits to tablet ordering systems that it almost seems crazy we didn’t think of it sooner.
Instead of running to the back-of-house to punch in customer orders, waiters can send the order to the kitchen directly from the table. This allows them to spend more time on the floor, meaning that they can better attend to the needs of your customers.
They’re also less likely to forget items or make mistakes when placing orders, which means that your customers are less likely to have complaints.
A tablet-based ordering system clearly allows for a better customer experience, which is good news for everyone.
7. Synchronize data across multiple branches – IN REAL TIME
In retail and hospitality, branching out is the vision of every entrepreneur – but it can also be a death knell for businesses that aren’t able to maintain the same level of quality and management that allowed them to expand in the first place.
It’s impossible to be in several places at once. But with a smart POS system, it’s easy to check in on multiple branches or franchises in real time. You’ll get a better idea of where you need to spend more of your time, and how to adapt each new branch to make it more competitive.
Ultimately, your POS needs to reduce the time you spend on administrative work, so that you can invest your energy in more important areas – like growth, expansion, and innovation.
Because if you’re not growing and innovating, your business is likely to follow in the footsteps of the cash register.