The Definitive Guide to POS Systems in Retail

In this Guide:

Chapter 1: What is POS?

At its most basic level, a Point of Sale – or POS – system is what’s used to take money and process transactions. It’s the system that powers your cash registers and allows your customers to complete their purchases. 

Typically, POS systems are made up of both hardware and software elements. Hardware includes things like barcode scanners, monitors, card readers and receipt printers while the software is the programme that sits behind the hardware and, in the best systems, should be able to generate sales reports, manage inventory, provide detailed reporting on store and employee performance, deal with integrated payments, send digital receipts, capture customer information, track customer purchases and much more.

Chapter 2: Traditional POS and moving forward

History of POS systems

Historically, POS systems have been an ‘on-premise’ solution where software is installed on local machines in store. For larger organisations, this inevitably requires a dedicated IT team to manage it and also usually has high upfront costs both for the software licences and for the hardware needed to run it. It also brings with it significant ongoing costs – especially in terms of updating and maintaining the software.

The limitations of on-premise POS systems have been exposed by the advent of POS systems that are cloud-based. With cloud-based POS systems, software can be installed on any device connected to the internet, updates are included in the cost (which tends to be significantly lower both in the short and long term), and these systems tend to be more user friendly than their on-premise counterparts.

Chapter 3: Retail mPOS and why it’s the future

A cloud-based mobile point of sale (mPOS) system isn’t just a cash register – it’s the most important piece in your retail jigsaw. 

Unlike traditional solutions, mPOS, or ePOS systems, can be run on smartphones and tablets – all you need is an internet connection, a card reader and to download an app. One of the most immediate and visible benefits of a mPOS system is how much space it can free up in your stores. Legacy systems are heavyweight affairs with cumbersome cash drawers and unsightly monitors. Tablets and phones are sleek, cool and discreet – they help set the tone for a modern, exciting store.

mPOS enables you to provide ‘real time’ retail and unified commerce

However, where a mPOS system is truly in a league of its own, is with what happens behind the scenes. It enables you to provide ‘real time’ retail and unified commerce – selling everywhere and fulfilling anywhere. All sales channels are connected in real-time. The customers can access all stocks everywhere and choose where and how to have their products delivered. Product information, campaigns, pricelists, inventories and customer data are synchronized.

The best mPOS systems will seamlessly integrate with CRM, eCommerce, payments, ERP and other systems – resulting in shared real-time data across all platforms. They will also offer a wide range of payment solutions such as credit cards, cash, invoicing, gift cards, store credit, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Klarna, Swish, Alipay, WeChat Pay, and many more.

A solution like Sitoo takes this a step further by giving store associates enhanced product information and real-time access to all stocks, which means they can sell products available in other stores or online. Sitoo also has a self checkout option making it easy for customers to pay for their goods and giving your ‘in and out’ shoppers a great experience. Self-checkout also frees up time for your staff to provide an enhanced service for your customers, often resulting in an increased average purchase order.

As digitalization continues to transform retail – and as a forward-thinking retailer – it’s your job to keep pace with this transformation and give your sales associates the tools they need to create winning experiences every single time for your customers. This is why you need a mPOS system.

Do you want your associates stuck behind a clunky, archaic cash register struggling with out-dated, overly complicated technology? Or do you want them working the shop floor, engaging your customers, with the ability to sell everywhere and fulfil anywhere?

A mPOS system allows you to take payments through a phone or a tablet. With an easy-to-use and intuitive app, it makes life easier for you and your associates while providing a better experience for your customers – often reducing their wait times, giving them additional product information, providing them with digital receipts and making their purchasing journey buttery-smooth.  The popular opinion that retail stores are dying is wrong. Stores are far from dead. They are in a digital transformation. The challenge for you and all retailers is to embrace this digitalization and meet our new ways of shopping.

Chapter 4: Key features of Retail mPOS Systems

Transforming your in-store experience

The role of the store associate has changed. They are no longer there to simply process payments and stand behind a desk. They are your champions, your ambassadors, and the people who bring the story of your brand to life. The emphasis of what they are in the store to do has completely shifted.

Transform your in-store experience with mPOS

As a brand, you want to always be the best version of yourself and for the message you’ve worked so hard on crafting to always shine through. Your associates make this happen and are the key to transforming your in-store experience for your customers.

But to do this, they need to be freed from the shackles of the old ways of working. With a mPOS system, they are free to meet your customers at each point of their journey through the store and, crucially, are right there to complete the purchase.

With integrated payments, additional product information and integrations with both loyalty and CRM systems, a mPOS system gives you the power to personalise the purchasing journey and deliver an experience that exceeds the expectations of your customers. Research from McKinsey shows 83% of customers say they want their shopping experience to be personalized in some way, and effective personalization can increase store revenues by 20 to 30%.

Personalized offerings – especially when it comes to upsell and cross-sell – will help increase sales as well as increasing basket-sizes and conversion rates. In fact, according to Mckinsey, retailers who invest in technology are likely to achieve EBIT margins twice those of today, with the added benefits of improved customer experience, better employee engagement, and an easier-to-run store.

Delighting your customers by making sure they have a great experience at every single touchpoint is crucial and what a mPOS system can help you do.

Whether it’s through the seamless, personalised purchasing journey we’ve already mentioned or by giving your customers the choice to have their goods delivered to their home or to pick additional items up in another store, a cloud-based mPOS system will level-up your customer experience.

After a positive customer experience, 69% of people would recommend the business and 50% would return to buy again. So give your customers what they want! Whether it’s a self checkout option, hands on help from your associates or minimum fuss transactions, you need to be able to give your customers what they want, when they want it.

“The customer experience in our stores is important to us and, here, Sitoo is a vital piece of the puzzle.” – John Ramberg, Financial Controller, Lush

Empowering your associates

Employee engagement has become one of the vogue terms across all industries but particularly in retail where there’s high rates of staff churn and ongoing recruitment drives.

The logic is simple; keep an employee engaged, motivated and happy and they, in turn, will be more productive, more efficient, provide a better customer service, take less sick days, and be less likely to leave their job.

Yet, according to Gallup, only one third of sales associates in retail describe themselves as engaged at work. While it isn’t alone in this, the retail industry is struggling to look after its employees and the cost is spiralling – the Bureau of National Affairs in the US found the cost of disengaged employees to be $11 billion.

From better communication through to wellbeing at work, there’s an ever growing number of ways retailers are trying to keep their employees engaged at work. Yet, one of the easiest is to get them using a mPOS system.

A mPOS system will immediately make life easier for your associates, freeing up their time so they can spend more of it with your customers. Because the system is operated through an app, it’s simple to use, easy to understand and requires little to no training. It’s a solution where you turn it on and it works. Everything is where you’d expect it to be and it makes life infinitely easier for your employees.

Look at this way, your employee, let’s call him Bob, loves fashion. Nothing makes him happier than helping your customers find the perfect item. When they leave the store happy, it makes Bob’s day. But Bob doesn’t get to speak to many customers. He’s rooted behind a cash register waiting to process payments. His knowledge, love of fashion, and desire to help your customers are all going to waste. Bring in a mPOS system and this all changes – not only can Bob work the floor helping as many customers as possible, he can take payments wherever he wants. Everyone one wins.

Not only does a mPOS solution give your associates more time to spend with your customers, but it makes them happier by removing the frustrations they have when trying to deal with tech that doesn’t work or isn’t doing it’s job properly.

“Thanks to the ease-of-use, functionality and future-facing approach Sitoo offers, the store associates in the new Under Armour store will be able to focus their energy on providing great customer service rather than worrying about how the POS system works.” – Peter Lindståhl, CEO, NRS

Connect e-commerce with bricks and mortar

The rise of e-commerce is the fuel behind the fire that’s destroying bricks and mortar stores….isn’t it? It may seem like it from the outside but the reality and the figures paint a very different story. 

Retail store numbers continue to grow. According to Census Bureau data, 2018 saw a net increase in retail stores in the United States. There were almost 3,100 more stores during the fourth quarter of 2018 than the same quarter a year earlier. What’s more, when a physical store closes, e-commerce sales in the immediate area fall by a huge 37%. And, according to a study by Forbes, 68% of consumers use ‘click and collect’ with 85% of them buying something else when they collect their goods.

The best retail businesses learn to evolve and are really clear on who their consumer is, what their speciality is and what their product offering is. The birth of e-commerce has allowed them to tell that story to a much wider audience.

Connect e-commerce with the physical store

Where a retail POS system or mPOS system fits in is as the missing piece of the jigsaw that allows those different elements to be connected and empowers brands to deliver a compelling experience that generates sales and ensures the consumer leaves with a smile on their face. 

A mPOS system revolutionizes inventory management, allowing sales associates to manage incoming deliveries, outgoing shipments and inventory directly on their mobile device. It also makes stocktaking easier than ever before. And, linking back to the previous chapter, with an increased inventory accuracy store associates get more engaged, resulting in better control and cut costs.

It also changes how we think about fulfillment. The customer can – without any extra effort on their part – have their purchases shipped to any address or can easily request to pick up items at another store. With real-time alerts when a Click & Reserve has been placed, the ability to access all orders for returns and all stocks for reservations and sales, your store associates become a natural part of delivering a seamless customer experience.

Finally, a mPOS system is the missing link between all the other systems in the retail ecosystem. Seamless integration with CRM, eCommerce, payments, ERP and other systems result in shared real-time data across all platforms. This data can then be viewed in a dashboard, available in the POS, with real-time KPIs, helping your sales associates measure performance and boost teamwork.

A cloud-based mPOS system enables the two worlds of bricks and mortar and e-commerce to join up and make sure that clear, concise, compelling proposition is followed right the way through to the finish line.

“Sitoo will make it much easier for us to integrate the online and offline. This means our customers will be able to order things online and pick them up in stores as well as ordering in store and have the goods delivered to their home – or any other address they want to choose.” – Karin Lindahl, CEO, Indiska

Deployment & scalability

One of the biggest benefits of a cloud-based solution is, it’s scalable and easy to implement regardless of language, legal requirements or currencies. Having a system that’s scalable, easy to deploy and works across multiple locations is integral for ambitious global retailers who are growing fast.   

With the best retail POS systems and mPOS systems you can run a successful, global, multi-location retail business on a single platform. All product information and inventories are synchronized in real-time and available in all locations, giving consumers unlimited choice on where and how to shop – making it possible for enterprise retailers to reach true unified commerce.

And, because the solution is in the cloud, you’ll always be running the latest version of the software, you’ll have access to new features as soon as they are released, and your long term support costs will be a fraction of what they are with a legacy solution.

At Sitoo, we pride ourselves on speed of deployment. Roll outs of new software can be fraught with challenges, end up being huge time drains, and take many months to be successfully implemented. Thanks to our tight-knit team and our desire to make things happen, we’re able to deploy and roll out quickly, efficiently and with little to no waste time.

“We’re undergoing rapid growth and continuing to expand into more countries while opening more stores. One of the key drivers for us choosing Sitoo as our global point of sale system has been how simple it is to operate, to roll-out and to scale.  In addition to that, having Sitoo as our global retail payment system will also give us sales data from our different markets collected in one place. This will of course will have an important role in our expansion and growth.” – Mathilda Sällberg, Global Retail Buyer, Happy Socks

In summary

Here’s the questions you need to ask when looking for a retail point of sale system:

  • Is it mobile?
  • Is it cloud-based?
  • Will it link e-commerce and bricks and mortar?
  • Can it help you fulfill anywhere and sell everywhere?
  • Is it easy for your store associates to use?
  • Can it be implemented and rolled out quickly?
  • Does the vendor have good reviews, provide great support and have regular software updates?
  • Will it help save you time and money while delivering a return on investment?

Next steps

‘Retail Death’ may have been over exaggerated but there’s no smoke without fire. Retail businesses of all shapes and sizes are feeling the pinch and barely a week passes without news from across the globe of another retailer struggling.

At the same time, we have stories of huge successes. Of retailers with booming stores, successful e-commerce, happy employees, and happy customers. More often than not, these success stories are from retailers who have embraced technology. They are the retailers of the future, operating today.

There’s no point in delaying if you intend to join them. The time to act is now. Transformation can only happen through action. Talk to us today and we’ll show you what the future of retail looks like and how a POS system built with decades of retail experience behind it can be the missing piece in your jigsaw.

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London, 2019-09-19

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