Point of Sale Inventory Software
Point of Sale Inventory Software: Giving Small Businesses the Competitive Edge
Point of sale inventory software innovations are continuously changing the way small companies do business. Although the stately cash register might be a traditional symbol of retail establishments, many small-business owners are replacing it with a perhaps less aesthetic but eminently more helpful computer and printer.
The standard cash register captures information on tape, requiring the store owner to re-enter the data into columnar sheets or computer databases for accounting, analysis, or inventory reports. Computers with point-of-sale inventory software, on the other hand, automatically capture a host of information about each sale and instantly update the inventory database. This point of sale inventory software lets the retailer view on a screen up-to-the-minute information about stock on hand or create printed reports that help in making buying decisions.
While point of sale inventory software systems are not new–large chains have been using them for decades–what is new is the price. Decades ago, most point of sale inventory software systems ran on mainframe or mini-computers and cost $25,000 and up. Now, a two-computer Macintosh or IBM PC or compatible system can cost a small fraction of that price.
Point of sale inventory software and point of sale inventory systems are typically sold as modules. Many systems include at least two computers and printers, one at the checkout counter for POS activities and the second in the back room for inventory reporting. The POS computer can be outfitted with a cash drawer that opens only when a transaction is made and a bar-code reader that automatically puts in data from manufacturers’ or internally generated labels.
The procedure of ringing up a sale with point of sale inventory software is much the same as with a conventional register. Using the keyboard or scanning the bar-code label, the clerk enters the product name or number and sometimes the price. The product information then appears on the computer screen. After all purchases are listed, the totals are displayed, and the cash drawer (if used) opens. When the transaction is completed, the printer issues the receipt.
For many retailers, the main advantage of point of sale inventory software is that the screen at the register can display immediately which items are in stock at any time. This eliminates the need to leave the register and hunt through boxes to answer a customer’s request.
But there are also after-hours advantages. Point of sale inventory software can provide reports that list merchandise that should be reordered because stock has fallen below the recommended level.
And stocking is also much quicker with those point of sale inventory software systems that automatically print pricing labels after the merchandise has come in the door.
Customer buying trends can change quickly. Without a point of sale inventory software system it can be almost impossible to keep up with what the customers are buying. But with point of sale inventory software, retailers can generate reports that show the percentage purchased per fashion line for each store, for example, and they can allocate their purchasing dollars proportionately. Thus, point of sale inventory software enables merchants to stock inventory that people want, which helps the inventory move more quickly.
Moreover, monthly reports now can be automatically generated by the point of sale inventory software, which makes accountants and bookeepers very happy.
Some point of sale inventory software packages come with accounting capabilities. And some accounting software packages now come with support for bar-code readers and cash drawers, and provide a wide series of reports.
In the 1960s, mainframe-based point of sale inventory software systems cost about half a million dollars and yet were gobbled up by large chain stores that knew a competitive advantage when they saw one. Now it’s small businesses’ turn. The price is right, the speed is acceptable, and the reporting ability is all that small retailers need.