The pandemic has had a transformative effect on the retail industry at large. Businesses have adapted swiftly with the widespread adoption of curbside pickup, digital ecommerce, and contactless payments.
Now, these elements are a must for all retailers, specialty retailers in particular.
Without all three working in concert, businesses will have a tough time scaling and surviving. So, how do businesses transform, and keep track of, their entire ecosystem without pulling their hair out? The answer is easily achieved by unifying inventory, transactions, and services through the cloud with a next-gen, turnkey Point of Sale (POS) system.
Omnichannel is Here and Now
Specialty retailers need a fully-functioning ecommerce platform. There’s no “I’ll do it next year,” or “people can just purchase in store.” Ecommerce has been steadily becoming the norm for the past decade, but social distancing and quarantine have pushed the online shopping trend forward a few years and left retailers with an ultimatum.
Achieving effective ecommerce requires a great website backed by a cloud-based POS platform that unifies online and in-store purchasing. POS solutions empower retailers to receive an order and deliver it curbside in five minutes, sell products in the field and track multi-site inventory all in one hub.
Regardless of the sales channel, customers expect a smooth experience. This means simple, quick service from checkout to delivery. Customers expect well-managed inventory and are exceedingly less receptive to “out of stock” or “backorder” messages. Upgrading to an all-in-one POS software not only helps businesses understand when it is time to order more inventory, it also streamlines the payment experience and can even track delivery teams and provide them with route optimization via Google Maps.
Customer Intelligence Through Data
Modern POS solutions also provide retailers with valuable data including shopping history and potential upsell opportunities. The data is stored in the cloud, and with an advanced POS, is accessible on multiple platforms and devices. This is crucial to create a fluid, repeatable customer experience.
With a unified POS, a service tech can deliver or sell a product to a customer at their home, while their colleague fulfills ecommerce orders and a third employee in the store helps customers check out. Each one uses an internet-connected device to record the sale and make any other necessary notes.
Fostering Meaningful Customer Engagements
Armed with data, store managers and owners can expand and improve their business operations. Point-of-sale machine data enables upselling. Consider Ms. Jones who visits a gardening store and purchases a tool to clean up her summer planting beds. When the transaction is in process, the POS terminal shows the teller Ms. Jones’ past purchases. The teller could then engage in some polite upselling, saying “Ms. Jones do you need any more of that lawn fertilizer?” knowing she made a purchase five months ago. It provides the merchant an opportunity to grow its sales, while also offering another touch point for the customer.
It’s a low-tech, less invasive version of the “tracking cookie” that can pay off handsomely. And if Ms. Jones reacts poorly to the interaction? The teller can always put in a note in the POS to remove her from upsell offers in the future, while still retaining her as a customer.
Cloud-based software puts all POS information in one database. This also enables CRM activities through monthly emails or special promotion alerts, so the company can nurture business relationships with customers. Best of all, the data is integrated, so the retailer can ditch their legacy customer database software.
Future Enhancements for Retail POS
POS solutions will continue to evolve and leverage the connectedness of cloud-based systems over the coming years. Companies like Evosus Software, which built its LOU® SaaS product for specialty retailers, are leading the way for this industry innovation, which will encompass:
- Enhanced speed with even faster checkouts, speedy follow-up, and fulfillment that enables curbside pickup in minutes
- Document and biometrics scanning including drivers licenses or thumbprint scanning to identify shoppers and customize experiences
- Integrating new payment types into the POS solution
- Further enabling omnichannel selling with consistent experiences, whether the customer interacts via phone, text, or in person.
Retailers hoping to maintain and grow revenues after the pandemic need competitive differentiators. The top POS platforms offer all-in-one features for managing retail, service and inventory together. These are the core elements needed to function in a post-pandemic retail space, one where curbside pickup, contactless payments and ecommerce work together seamlessly.