What is Retail Point of Sale (POS)? Why is it important & how to use it?

Retail point of sale

Retail point of sale

Retail point of sale (POS) is not what it used to be. With the advancement of technology as well as consumer demands, POS systems have emerged, evolved, and can do more than ever. Business owners are no longer relying on them to cover the basics for retail stores. 

This article will cover what a retail point of sale is in today’s modern world, as well as why it’s important and how to use one to your business’s advantage.


What is retail Point of Sale (POS)?

A retail POS is a touchpoint someone has when they purchase from your store. The point of sale can happen online or in-store and refers to when someone makes a transaction with your business—buying whatever you offer. 

A point of sale is notoriously important to build strong and trusted customer relationships and ensure your stock and inventory are accounted for considering the new purchase. You want this transaction to run smoothly for your customer as well as your business operations. 

Once upon a time, POS solely meant the point of sale and referred to someone ‘checking out’ at a store. However, today POS has grown and encompassed tech enhancements. Today, many stores use a point of sale system. Let’s explore what that is.

Retail point of sale


What is a Point of Sales system?


A POS system is software as a service (SaaS) and operationally ties together the consequences of someone’s purchase. Of course, a POS system processes a customer payment; however, it also delivers a lot more. 

A good POS system handles different areas of your business operations. It can update your inventory, contribute towards sales reports, and adjust any ecommerce channels depending on what’s sold.


Why is POS important? 

If you’re struggling to build a business case for adopting a POS system or even a more streamlined POS process in the first place, then look no further. We’re about to share seven reasons why a POS is so important for retail businesses.


Reduces asset loss

There are two core areas that a POS system can help your business with. The first is the loss of your stock. This is especially the case for perishable stock, but a POS can also highlight if you’ve had stock stolen, misplaced, or unaccounted for. 

If you’re using a POS for your restaurant or cafe, it can help highlight anything that’s out of stock or going out of our of date, which will help you manage your menus and sales strategies front of house. 

Secondly, a POS also helps to reduce financial losses. A POS keeps efficient track of sales and can let you know exactly how much cash you should have in the register, as well as how much you should have processed via card payments. If something does not add up to what your POS is showing, you’ll need to investigate the situation. Your POS is your sole point of truth.


Streamline checkouts 

An efficient POS streamlines the checkout process. It’s so much more than a calculator. It can make the entire process, both for your business and your customers, run smoothly and as quickly as possible. 

A POS can apply discounts, as well as source any stock a customer requests. Overall, it helps to create a flawless checkout experience that your customers remember.


Integrate loyalty programs

Have you ever been paying at a store, and a clerk has asked for your email address? This can be for two reasons. One, to send you a digital receipt and eradicate unnecessary paper. Two, to include you in a loyalty program. 

A POS system can manage, maintain, and correctly apply any loyalty program perks. If your loyalty program runs off a points-based system, then a smart POS can pull that information up so the store clerk can inform the customer of how many points they have or can have—should they purchase a little more. A fantastic perk for upselling.

Retail point of sale


Provides a single source of truth

We are all human—for the most part—which means none of us are perfect, and at some point, we’re bound to make a mistake or two. A POS minimizes those mistakes, eliminating as many human data-entry points as possible. 

Trust in your machines, and you’ll be thankful for it.


Manages employee time efficiently 

Some of the best POS software can provide you with data-driven feedback on your busiest days, weeks, and even months. By using valid data, you can then make informed decisions on staff rotas and ensure you’ve got the right size team on hand for the number of people you typically have walking through your doors. 

For example, just because one day may seem busier than others, that’s not to say it actually is. Your POS SaaS can help you pinpoint trends in footfall at certain times of the day or during specific times of year. Say goodbye to having too many staff on the shop floor or too few members of the team available to keep your customers happy. 

Lightspeed’s POS software is a prime example of enabling businesses to make smart, data-driven decisions from their built-in reports. It doesn’t stop at staffing operations. With this particular POS SaaS, you’ll be able to manage purchase orders, view customer profiles to upsell, and so much more—it comes highly recommended.

Retail point of sale


Handles an array of different payments

Without a POS, your team will typically only be able to manage certain payments without having to pay a surcharge per transaction, getting lost in the process, or simply not being able to process a payment option in the first place. 

However, this is where a POS comes in to save the day. With a POS system, you’ll be able to process most card payments, accept eWallet payments, and offer someone the ability to pay in installments. This offers your customers more flexible and inclusive payment options that they’ll thank you for; as well as increasing your chances of making a sale in the first place.


Presenting smart discounts 

Discounts are where your POS really starts to shine. Some of the best POS systems can analyze your stock and present discounts that will benefit your customers and your stock rotations. 

Never get stuck with leftover stock that you can’t budge, or perishable stock you need to throw out, get it all sold at a profitable rate using data-driven discounts.


How to use a POS?

Before you even begin using a POS system, there are a couple of things you need to make sure you have: 

  • A credit card terminal
  • A card machine 
  • A cash register
  • A receipt printer 
  • A barcode scanner 
  • Any other SaaS tools you may need to get the most out of your system 

To help inform this section, we’ve referred to Lightspeed’s onboarding flow and other resources. Right, now that’s covered, let’s dive in. 


Set up your POS software 

The setup for your POS software should be guided by your provider, be it using onboarding modals within the software itself or on a live call with a member of the customer success team. Typically, you’ll need to set up the following: 

  • Location/s: where your store is physically located 
  • Tax Info: your store’s legal tax information
  • Staff: a list of your employees, details, and working hours
  • Account info: all of your business account information 
  • Business branding: upload any logos or designs you need to make your software on-brand
  • Discounts: any discounts you currently have running or would like to run in the near future
  • Register rules: incase your store sells products that come with a minimum age requirement
  • Inventory: a full list of your inventory 


Set up your hardware 

Once your software is all go, it’s time to set up your hardware. This refers to Ipads or desktops that you’ve chosen to operationally make a sale. This will also be your payment terminal and payment processor. 

Again, your POS provider should be on hand to guide you through the technical side of this. Most pieces of hardware are plug-and-play setups, they just need to connect to the internet, and you’re off! 

Retail point of sale


Staff training and onboarding

Now’s the time to really dive into the perks of having a full-coverage POS. Your staff (and customers) will be able to reap the rewards of efficiency. However, they’ll need to be onboarded to the tool if you want them to really fly. 

Most POS SaaS companies provide your team with a full onboarding, be it via an app, in-person, or over a selection of video calls and webinars. 

However you choose to onboard your staff make sure you allow them to dedicate the time to learning and use the tool exactly how it’s supposed to be used. That way, your data entry remains correct, and you can rely on the POS as the sole point of truth. 


Update inventory 

Before you launch the system officially, make sure your inventory is up to date from when you first installed the POS system. A few days or maybe even weeks may have passed since you onboarded your software, and of course, customers don’t stop coming just because you’re changing systems. 

Make those inventory changes to bring everything up to date.


Enjoy your POS 

That’s a wrap! You’re ready to go and enjoy the full benefits of a POS system! Let it lead your sales processes and help to drive data-driven decisions. In a matter of months, you’ll begin to see the benefits of a POS and the wonders it can do for your business long term. 


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