Companies that fail to keep up with the times, usually end up either going out of business or being taken over by their rivals. Joseph Schumpeter called this creative destruction
, whereby technological progress continuously demands that firms adapt their processes and corporate structures, or inevitably fall by the wayside. The digital revolution that has had such a profound effect on modern life has had a similar impact on the opportunities and challenges faced by contemporary businesses. Disruptive technologies can travel much more quickly across a globalized marketplace than ever before. Those who are able to choose the right technology and implement it early will reap the rewards.
Bricks and Mortar
The retail environment has long been a ferociously competitive one. Over the past decade and a half the challenge faced by stores has become even fiercer, as e-commerce has grown in popularity and companies like Amazon have matured into giants. Yet physical shops still have an important part to play in giving customers a great experience. You only have to look at the success of Apple's stores and the effort that Steve Jobs put into their design, to recognize that evolution is far more likely than extinction.
An aspect of this in the retail sector is the movement from, somewhat antiquated, cash registers to mobile POS (Point of sale) packages.
These software systems can be used with a range of devices, from iPads to PCs, to more conventional hardware, and their ability to empower managers is likely to grow in the future. They enable data to be securely shared, by tapping into the power of online networks and the cloud, but will continue to function even if the Internet connection is lost.
There are a huge range of benefits associated with these modern systems and here are 9 of the most important:
POS systems complete transactions quicker than conventional cash registers and the benefits of this are clear. Staff are able to serve customers quickly, meaning that they have more time to answer customer queries and attend to other duties.
2. Customer Service
Customers have shorter waiting times and will thus have a better shopping experience. This is especially salient during busy periods, or in the run up to Christmas. There is little more disheartening than a customer abandoning a purchase because they've grown impatient waiting to pay. Furthermore, that customer will likely remember the negative experience and may not return in future.
People are now more comfortable using digital technology than old fashioned machines like cash registers. Training new staff to use a Point of Sale package is a rapid process and grasped more intuitively by individuals who have grown up with smart phones and touch screens. Alongside improved usability, POS devices have built-in checks to help prevent the user errors that inevitably cost a business so much time and emotional energy to rectify.
4. Shrinkage Control
The sophistication of modern POS systems is such that sales, the amount of cash held and all manner of other things can be monitored in real time. It is harder to manipulate an intelligent system that is connected to all other sources of information.
5. Information Hub
Running a business is a battle to manage many diverse and demanding tasks with a limited amount of time and resources to do so. The ability that POS systems have to make all relevant information available at the click of a button is almost invaluable. Their nature is that they can act as a hub for every kind of information needed to run a business, moment by moment. Inventory management is hence effortless. Purchase orders can be automated to occur when stock reaches a designated level.
6. Remote Access and Monitoring
Exercising managerial control is mostly a balancing act. Too little and some employees may be tempted to abuse the trust that has been placed in them, too much and staff may feel stifled and under suspicion. With POS systems, managers can access sales and employee transactions remotely, so that activity can be monitored whether from a holiday in the Caribbean or in a Monday morning meeting.
POS also facilitates accounting and auditing procedures in a way that a dependence on paper-based systems cannot. Where once an accountant might have to go through hundreds of receipts, modern systems can simply run one of a built in reports or even create a new one.
8. Data Collection
Customer loyalty can be evaluated as part of a POS system. There are a variety of useful tools and reports that can be integrated into a POS package that have no equivalent in older cash registers.
9. Cost Effectiveness
Another benefit of taking advantage of modern systems is the reduction in the need for maintenance work and the downtime caused by breakdown. POS systems are more reliable and cheaper to repair than their predecessors. In addition, labor costs are usually one of the biggest bills facing any business, and a modern system will enable staff to work more efficiently.
The March of Progress
Given the availability of free POS software
, choosing to move to modern systems seems a no-brainer. The benefits of transitioning from a traditional cash register system to a modern POS system are hard to understate. Indeed, as much as anything else, utilizing a POS system is a sign to staff, customers and competitors of a well-run, progressive business. Whilst those stores that obstinately refuse to change may, for a time, have a kind of quaint retro chic, they are ultimately doomed to be outstripped by the kind of business that understands that it needs to evolve in order to prosper.
Above all else, utilizing a new system will increase the efficiency of a retail business in a wide variety of areas, acting as a platform for new growth. Failure to act will result in extinction.
Francois Bondiguel is from Vend
, a point-of-sale, inventory, and customer loyalty software that helps over 8,000 retailers manage and grow their business. Connect with Vend on Google+