Image taken by by Philippe Put on Flickr

Essentially a computerised cash register, the POS terminal is the most accurate way of tracking sales. It does away with less efficient and potentially inaccurate methods of inputting sales, such as punching in numbers by hand, or expecting a cashier to remember the price of items.
Managing your inventory

Keeping on top of an inventory is obviously vital to running a retail business. In many cases, over-stocking is just as bad as under-stocking, particularly in hospitality industries where goods may be perishable. A POS terminal is a cash register and inventory manager rolled into one. It will instantly deduct sold items from your inventory, allowing you to quickly see how much and what stock remains. Computerising this aspect of your business can help to avoid a sudden shrink – that uncomfortable moment when you realise that your stock levels do not match your records. Long-term, you can gain an accurate picture of the demands being placed on your inventory. A comprehensive data set will begin to reveal trends; perhaps there is seasonal, or holiday related rush on a particular good. A point of sale payments system means anticipating these kinds of demands.

Easily oversee promotions and discounts

Running promotions and offering discounts are staples of retail. A business without a POS terminal is faced with the arduous task of going through a stack of receipts at the end of the day in order to calculate an accurate take. The terminal takes the markdown or promotion into account at the moment of sale.

Besides this improved efficiency, access to comprehensive sales data means a quicker understanding of the impact of particular discounts and promotions.

More efficient and, probably, happier staff

A staff free from fiddly and inefficient tasks like stock reconciliation and inventory management is a staff that can focus on the most vital aspect of a retail business: sales and customer service. A POS system can liberate your employees to focus on  the areas of your business which will really show returns, and your staff will likely thank you for the more focused workload.

Chop up the data

To get the most of out of your sales data you need to be able to select for different variables. A good POS terminal will have this facility. You can select by SKU, for certain time periods (like the run of a promotion), or even by particular cashiers. Timely access to this kind of data can prove vital in making business decisions, and the software will sift through the data with a speed that a person cannot hope to match.

Ease the hassle of managing multiple outlets

Whether retail or hospitality, businesses are often run across multiple locations. Such a scenario obviously complicates the task of managing inventory. Again, the POS terminal can reduce the size of the problem. The software is easily configurable to track stock across different branches. At a glance, you can view the overall numbers, or a regional breakdown, or a store by store breakdown. Furthermore, a POS system can help to ensure consistency in pricing, promotions or discounts from location to location.

A customisable system

Perhaps you also want to automate payroll, or find some way of tracking customer preferences. It’s possible to add this functionality to many POS systems. This may end up saving you money and reduce the technical challenge of having employees use many different kinds of software.

For many businesses, investing in POS terminal will quickly seem like a necessity. Accurately tracking sales and automating inventory management are profoundly useful benefits of making the switch, and the access to comprehensive sales data is the basis of decisions that move your business in the right direction.
Georgina enjoys blogging about topics which affect small business owners