Business Is Where the POS Is

Businesses benefit when they can make decisions based on facts in timely information. With the price tag for technology in reach, no small business – restaurant, retailer, or wholesaler – needs to wander in the wilderness, making guesses with inaccurate information that can adversely affect their bottom line. Making changes can be daunting, but no matter what it is you do, you can make a live inventory POS work for you.

Inventory Management: Basic Theory

Inventory is a term for the essential items that you need to satisfy your customer’s requirements. If you are a car dealer, you need an inventory of cars. If you are a t-shirt shop, you need an inventory of Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 10.15.45 AMshirts. If you are a bakery, you need an inventory of ingredients that make up your baked goods. Inventory management, according to Logistics Management, is the theory of optimizing inventory to minimize expenditures while maintaining the integrity and continuity of the flow of goods to the customer.  The basis of this system is one of using information generated in day to day business practices as the foundation for managing inventory, projecting the inventory needed to sustain daily business, without running out, issuing rain checks, back ordering, or scrambling to find out which vendor for what product, and how long to get it.

Inventory Management: Basic Equipment

The basics of a modern and flexible POS system consist of the following:

  • Barcode label printer
  • Barcode scanners
  • Tablet (such as an iPad or Android device) – or even more than one.
  • Credit card reader (attaches to tablet via headphone jack)
  • Cash drawer
  • Receipt printer – some of these can also scan, authorize, and endorse checks for deposit.

The true advantage of these components is their portability. From a store, to a shipping desk for an e-tailer or wholesaler, to a pop up location in a mall or farmer’s market, the sale, the merchandise, and the transaction details all feed into that information flow needed to keep your inventory lean and mean. By managing inventory with an effective information system, you can eliminate zombie tasks, all but stop shrinkage, and even raise profits without increasing sales says the Houston Chronicle. Whether you choose a traditional provider or go with a system from your eCommerce platform (such as Shopify) system of choice, your best pick for a system is scalable, flexible, and portable. Wholesale and retail are now multichannel venues for the needs of your varied customers.

Four Businesses, Four Needs, One Answer

Local Retailer: A local specialty retailer has three stores and a central warehouse in a metropolitan area, catering to a particular and knowledgeable customer base.  Before the POS, managing stock levels at the three stores and the warehouse location was a time-intensive task, and tracking stock transfers between the stores was a hassle. Streamlining can centralizing their inventory and stocking procedures via a POS improved communications between the stores, and between the stores and the warehouse, with the added effect improving ordering processes from vendors and keeping stock levels stable.

Craft Beer Brewpub: Craft brewing is a booming business and a successful brewpub works with the best and freshest ingredients possible. The owner, the brewmaster, and the head chefs and location managers needed to know how much to order, and how to set reorder points so as not to run out of their most needed ingredients. By barcoding their foodstuffs, they understood how much to order for a regular week versus a busy weekend, or when certain items seemed to be falling out of favor, indicating the need to retool the menu. Shrinkage due to spoilage and expiration was also significantly cut.

Restaurant: Located in a business area, a popular sandwich shop’s business was rapidly outgrowing the cash register and hand written order ticket. Turning to a touchscreen POS cut ordering time, reduced order errors due to handwriting mistakes, and got the sandwiches to the hungry clients on their lunch breaks. The POS reports also assisted in ordering provisions, and ensuring that customer favorites were always available.

Consignment Store: Vintage sales on a large scale helped one business owner to do what she loved, but that love did not extend to the onerous record keeping needed to track sales and pay the consignees their percentage in a timely manner. The increasing popularity of the consignment store chain and the unique inventories in each meant that each store needed its own system for keeping track of items in each store, sales, then the payment to the consignee while at the same time reporting to the home office.

Write Your Own Success Story

If you can inventory it, you can control it, and the more information you have the better you are able to plan for the future of your business. While a POS is not an overnight solution, the long term return value of this type of information system is where the “smart money” goes.

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