Pet specialty retailers should be sure to take full advantage of the business-boosting features available in today’s leading point-of-sale systems.
While a point-of-sale system of some kind is a given for most retailers today, they’re not all created equal. The highest-quality POS systems now go far beyond facilitating the checkout process, offering a wealth of data and tools that can help retailers run their businesses more efficiently and profitably.
Providers of several popular POS systems recommend that retailers take stock of their current setup and evaluate whether there’s room for improvement. In particular, storeowners should look at how much and what kind of data and analysis they have access to, whether their POS system supports their e-commerce strategy and how well it suits the particular needs of a pet product retailer and service provider.
To compete with online businesses, brick-and-mortar retailers need to have the same ability to collect and analyze data about their own stores that e-retailers have. According to several makers of POS systems for the pet industry, having detailed, accurate reporting on sales, inventory and more can make all the difference in growing revenue.
“I think that what makes a successful physical retailer nowadays is their ability to measure everything,” says JP Chauvet, president of Lightspeed, a cloud-based POS software system. “That’s where e-commerce has an advantage over traditional retailers right now.”
Chauvet recommends that retailers take a closer look at how much data their current POS system gives them, and whether it helps them understand and improve their business. For example, Lightspeed can highlight slow-moving products and suggest ways to move the stock.
“Let’s say you have $80,000 of dormant stock that’s been in your inventory for over a year,” Chauvet says. “With our analytics engine, we analyze it and then propose campaigns to get rid of that dormant stock. We might recommend a promotion campaign, which frees cash so you can buy items that are in demand.”
John Griffin, director of operations at POS software and digital signage provider FasTrax, highlights the importance of having a system that can generate specific sales and stock reports that can help retailers effectively analyze selling strategies.
“A huge report feature that is worth its weight in gold is non-sellers and slow movers,” says Griffin. “These reports help [retailers] understand trends as well as placement. New items may sell because of the marketing that is done in the beginning, and then they slow down.”
Griffin points out that once retailers can clearly identify these sales trends, they can investigate the potential reasons for them, such as where the item is located in the store, lack of knowledge of the product among sales associates or inconsistent reordering.
Ideally, a POS system should give retailers all the information they need to assess how different categories and products are doing, without having to manually dig through data. A system that comes equipped with robust and useful reporting features, especially ones tailored specifically to the pet industry, can be a significant advantage.
“A quality system should optimize pricing levels automatically, optimize and hone down stocking levels and point out problems before they become nightmares,” says Richard Kann, president and CEO of Comp-Ware Systems. “Optimally, it should act like a business manager to free the owner’s time from desk work and allow him or her to take care of customers.”
In addition to in-store operations, an effective POS system should enable retailers to pursue an e-commerce strategy. As Chauvet points out, retailers have to find a way to build an online presence to stay relevant and attract new customers in today’s market. “The interaction between online and offline is becoming more and more important,” he says. “The days of people walking down the street and discovering the pet store are kind of gone. More people know what they want to buy and are searching online.”
Technology that integrates information between the physical store and its web side can go a long way in both bringing in new customers and making it easier for brick-and-mortar retailers to sell online, if they choose. Chauvet highlights a seamless combination of online and in-store systems as one of Lightspeed’s greatest strengths.
“One of the real benefits of using us for your POS is that all of the inventory that you have in-store, you can basically click a button and have an online store,” he says. “It comes equipped with a very powerful e-commerce platform.”
Griffin also emphasized the importance of a system that allows retailers to integrate both sides of their business. While having a online business can add a revenue stream and bring in more foot traffic, it’s essential that a retailer’s POS system allows them to manage both easily and provide accurate information and good service to their customers at all times. For example, in-stock information should be synced between the physical and online stores.
“The worst thing you can do is sell a product you do not have and cause delays in the customer receiving the product on time,” Griffin says.
When evaluating their POS system or considering a new one, retailers should take into account how the technology caters to their specific needs.
“The pet industry is very unique in how it operates, and a system that is specifically designed for this industry give the store the best advantage,” Kann says. “Just as pet stores sell pet-specific products, they need a pet-store-specific POS.”
Comp-Ware Systems’ software, custom-designed for the pet and feed stores industries, includes scheduling systems for grooming and boarding services, inventory control options and a variety of purchasing and management features.
The right POS system can also help retailers compete better against online and big-box stores by improving their customer service. Specifically in the pet industry, features that make it easy for retailers to track all the relevant details about their customers’ furry friends can be key to strengthening personal relationships and building customer loyalty.
“If your customer feels you and your staff really know them and care about them and their pets, they will feel special and will come back time and again,” Kann says. “That personal connection is critical, and a good POS helps create and maintain it.” PB