If your startup plans include a brick and mortar store, no doubt the selection of a point of sale (POS) system is on the list of purchases before you open your doors. Today’s entrepreneur, however, has more to consider outside of the traditional in-store POS system. Recent technology allows point of sale systems to not only accommodate in-store sales, but also manage cross channel sales and loyalty programs.
With the right point of sale system, your startup can attract and retain customers like never before.
Can your POS system keep up with evolving customer expectations?
In a recent Salesforce study, 70 percent of consumers reported that technology made it easier for them to take their business elsewhere. Out of the same consumers, 66 percent said that they would change brands if the brand treated them like just a number. By 2020, three-quarters of business buyers believe companies will be able to make suggestions and anticipate their shopping needs.
While customers expect responsive service and the latest technology, they still want to be treated like an individual. An estimated 89 percent of business buyers expect brands to know their unique needs and desires.
Even as predictive, anticipatory service becomes the norm, a total of 82 percent of consumers say that personalized customer services impact their loyalty.
Recognizing and rewarding your customers in the same manner, no matter how they buy from you, is the key to maintaining your most important asset: your customer.
Related: The Point of Sale Playbook
Extending the point of sale by integrating with e-commerce
According to the United States Department of Commerce, there was a 4.8 percent increase in e-commerce sales between the first and second quarter of 2017. While overall retail sales rose just 0.5 percent, e-commerce has been quickly taking a larger share of the pie. This trend has continued for more than a decade as more buyers turn online for their products.
As a busy entrepreneur, one single place to enter, manage and make changes to inventory brings big efficiencies and leaves less room for errors. Without real-time inventory integration, and thus accurate inventory, quantity levels between in-store and online, you could oversell inventory and thus drive away potential customers. With an integrated POS and e-commerce system, inventory is generally managed via the POS and then “mirrored” to the e-commerce system; this includes inventory attributes such as pricing, descriptions and quantities.
Your valuable customer relationship management database, or CRM, as well, should be shared across channels so that your customers are recognized in the same manner, no matter where or how they shop with you; this includes online and in-store support of the sale and redemption of gift cards as well as cross-channel accumulation and reward of loyalty points. Again, it is typically the POS that will maintain the “master” customer database, and the integration with e-commerce that allows for communication between in store and online.
An integrated e-commerce and in-store POS system allows you to add new customers to your database, share those customer profiles across channels, instantly update your inventory via one database, and provide scalable solutions for the future.
Integrating POS systems with mobility, store apps and social media
Temporary pop up shops are a great way to boost brand recognition, but entrepreneurs in particular should make sure that their in-store POS system has the mobile extensions required to accommodate pop up shops, tent sales and other temporary venues, outside of in-store. Mobile POS extensions allow retailers to facilitate mobile sales, and track inventory in the same manner as the store, so that additional reconciliation is not required. Mobile sales staff can instantly check for stock in alternate locations, store and recall customer details, and provide the same in-store experience to customers while mobile.
According to App Annie’s Global Retail Report, “downloads of mobile shopping apps worldwide grew 20 percent year over year in the first half of 2017.” Retailers like Jo-Ann Fabric use store apps to offer exclusive coupons, weekly ads and store locations. With the Target app, consumers get more than just coupons and exclusive discounts; the app is also enabled with beacon technology to map the consumer’s location in the store and direct them to promotional deals near their location. Startups, too, should consider store applications to offer their customers a mobile sales experience, as well as direct marketing and targeted exposure to the brand.
No conversation on the impact of social media would be complete without mention of Facebook, as it drives more than two-thirds of mobile e-commerce traffic. It also accounts for a total of 64 percent of social revenue. Social campaigns and activities like check-ins and Facebook “likes” are well known for helping merchants boost their marketing reach, as well as the bottom line of retailers. Social media behaviors may then be tracked, and added as an extension to the customer attributes in the point of sale CRM to allow for targeted marketing, rewards, communication, and recognition.
Customer purchasing behaviors might be changing, but you do not have to fall behind. Next generation point of sale systems help you handle transactions no matter where your customers shop.