Retail POS Software

Retail POS Software: Finding the Best Tools for Tracking your Company’s Sales and Inventory

Most retailers will tell you that the holy grail for their business would be a software system that could tell them what goods they have in stock, how those goods are selling, and offer them a wealth of additional information about their products, sales force, and inventory levels. The right retail POS software systems can do just that – provide all the valuable information that retailers need to fine tune their sales efforts.

Retail POS software systems can record each sale when it happens, so retailer’s inventory records are always up to date. Even better, with retail POS software retailers get much more information about the sale than they could gather with a manual system. They can run reports based on the information the retail POS software system gathers for them, and therefore can make better, more informed, more timely decisions about ordering and merchandising.

Consider just a few of the things you can do with a retail POS software system:

* You can use your retail POS software to analyze sales data to maximize your return on investment. By knowing how well all the items on your shelves sell, you can adjust purchasing levels to prevent running out of popular items and letting unpopular ones gather dust. You can also use sales information gathered with your retail POS software to monitor the effects of markdowns and price adjustments, as well as modify pricing to improve inventory turnover.

* Retail POS software systems can maintain a sales history to help adjust your buying decisions for seasonal purchasing trends.

* With a retail POS software system, you can also track sales activity by salesperson to compute commissions and monitor performance, and integrate bar-code scanners and credit card authorization ability to improve pricing accuracy.

* You can maintain customer histories and mailing lists for promotional and marketing purposes with your retail POS software system.

Popular retail POS software systems also let you use add-on devices at your checkout stations, such as electronic cash drawers, bar-code scanners, credit card readers, and receipt or invoice printers.

Retail POS software packages often come with integrated accounting modules, including general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, purchasing and inventory control systems, as well as modules that keep track of employee attendance and time, security and payroll. Essentially, a retail POS software system is an all-in-one way to keep track of your business’s inventory and cash flow.

Choosing the Right Retail POS Software

The features you want to look out for in a retail POS software system depend to some extent on what you’ll be using it for. Generally, though, you want to look for the following:

* Ease of use. Ideally, you won’t have to spend a lot of time training employees to use the retail POS software, so look for retail POS software that has a user-friendly graphical interface.

* Entry of sales information. Most retail POS software systems allow you to enter inventory codes either manually or automatically via a bar-code scanner. Once the inventory code is entered, the retail POS software systems call up the standard or sales price, compute the price at multiple quantities and then provide a running total. Many retail POS software systems make entering sales manually easy to do when needed – they let you search for inventory codes based on a partial merchandise number, description, manufacturing code or vendor. These are some of the features you should look for when choosing your retail POS software system.

* Pricing. Retail POS software systems can offer multiple ways to keep track of pricing information, such as add-on amounts, percentage of cost, margin percentage and custom formulas. If you provide volume discounts, for example, you can set up multiple prices for each item. This functionality saves many retailers a lot of time.

* Customers. Many retail POS software packages allow you to add new customer information to the system as you go. Additionally, some retail POS software packages have lookup tables that provide information about existing customers when you type in their names, addresses or other data. This feature that is very useful for marketing.

* Updating product information. Once a sale is entered, many retail POS software systems automatically update inventory and accounts receivable records.

* Sales staff records. Some retail POS software systems can automatically track sales commissions and goals, making the task of managing employee commissions that much easier.

* Security. In retail, it’s important to keep tight control over cash receipts to prevent theft. If security is a big concern for your business, look for those retail POS software systems that provide audit trails so you can trace any problems.

* Taxes. Many retail POS software systems can support numerous tax rates – useful if, for instance, you run a mail order business and need to deal with taxes for more than one state.

Perhaps the most valuable way retail POS software systems help you gain better control of your business is through their reporting features. These reports basically let you sort through and search sales data in a variety of ways to determine what products from what vendors are selling best at what time. With this data from your retail POS software system, you can figure out everything from the optimal ways to arrange shelves and displays to what promotions are working best and when to change seasonal promotions.

All retail POS software packages include a wide array of reporting capabilities, including sales, costs, and profits by individual inventory items, by salesperson, or by category for the day, month and year to date. Some retail POS software packages offer special reports on sales for each hour of the day for any time period. You can also create multiple formats for invoices, accounting statements and price tags. Additional reports can include day-end cash reconciliation worksheets and inventory management. You can even print reports showing employee time and attendance.

Remember, though, not every retail POS software package offers all these features. You’ll have to learn about the features of each one to see which comes closest to meeting your needs. Also remember that every business is unique; you may find that none of the available off-the-shelf systems meet all your requirements. Industry-specific retail POS software packages are available – for auto repair shops, beauty and nail salons, video rental stores, dry cleaners and more. In addition, some retail POS software system manufacturers will tailor their software to your needs. If your business needs require it, retail POS software customization might be the right option for you.

So, whether or not you find a retail POS software package that meets all of your requirements “as is,” rest assured that with a little effort, you’ll find one that works for you.

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