As most of you probably know, there is much talk on TV and in the papers today predicting that the US economy is heading for a slow down. I started my company over 25 years ago and have been through a number “recessions". This experience has provided me with insight on how to navigate through these more challenging times.
Technology and efficiency become significantly more important during times of economic uncertainty. I have seen many retailers that started their businesses during prosperous times and didn't have the experience or systems in place to drive their businesses through the tough times.
I have been around as most of you have, to remember how it was, when stores did not even use computers at all and have watched as technology has grown beyond what I imagined. And in recent years, the pace of those improvements is faster than ever - with many programs becoming obsolete in short order after they are implemented.
However, the good news is that POS developers never take vacations. Regular updates help retailers increase the power and flexibility of their POS systems without having to replace them, and the increased management benefits can be huge.
Yes, POS technology is state-of-the art for retailers, but inevitably needs to be changed for each retailer. Tim Allen star of the hit comedy Home Improvement said it best “I rewired it" - many retailers become creative with ways to improve the operation of their POS systems to fit their unique needs.
Well, today's buyer of retail technology is continuing to change. People are more tech savvy than in the past, so it is really important for technology to adjust for each retailer's unique needs.
It's not really just about the different products out there, but also how that product is delivered, so that the retailer, in the end is actually succeeding with it and not just using it as an expensive cash register.
Retailers want to keep up with changing technology to be on the leading edge because that gives them a competitive edge.
If your current system isn't meeting your needs, I highly advise you to take a hard look at the company you're working with, as well as what new technology has to offer. You need to be connected with a company and system on that leading edge, especially if you're a newer retailer, first time through a period of economic travail or if you're in a growth stage.
I want to tell you about an article I read. . .
It described all the things that a large chain of store was doing to reinvent themselves, and how, as a result they improved their price per share, inventory turns, and revenue.
In looking through the article for their inventory control technology, you could see what this large retailer was doing, and how they were leveraging the same type of technology that Wal-Mart was using to improve their performance.
The article began by discussing where the company was at when they were not doing so well and the research they were did to improve their image. But what caught my eye was how they were using “some of the most sophisticated systems for gauging demand, predicting sales, and filling orders in the business today. " And they spent more than $500 million in the last decade to develop it. Wow!
The company's CEO says, “Technology has allowed us to take back our destiny. " Those are words that I certainly understand and can get behind. But I still wanted to know about the juicy stuff of what they actually implemented - which took their turns from 12 to 19 per year.
One might think, “they probably developed some new technique, some new measure of inventory and sales to do that. "
Well, this new technology that the company leveraged allowed any store manager to pull up real-time data about what products are selling best at their location. Hmmm, nothing new here. The store managers can also get inventory information on other stores in the chain.
Also, to allow them to tweak their inventories, the company developed a hand-held device that enables them to recount inventories on a regular basis, so that they can be sure they are looking at accurate numbers.
They also use these handhelds to help place orders for items that need to be replenished. The article describes how one particular store manager used the system to calculate how much merchandise moved since last week in order to suggest orders.
The stores suggest purchase orders to the corporate location, which are then converted to real orders and then shipped. This empowers the store managers to order what they are confident they can sell.
Then the article goes into merchandising. I'm sure this is where the real sophisticated stuff is going to come out. So, it describes how they look at sales by location to figure out what is selling. They also use sales data from their system to develop new products. It talks about the clever changes they made to their merchandise offerings - better, more current choices, etc.in products.
And then the article ends!!
So where were the vast technological changes I heard about? Did I miss the new formulas, new methodologies, new cutting-edge technological advances?
The truth is, everything they created and implemented we already provide our customers and have for years! How can that be?
I guess there aren't any new secrets. The basics of retailing are what make stores profitable. Essentially, we already provide small to mid-size retailers a lot of what this large retailer discovered.
As I thought more about the article, I felt obligated to let more retailers know that they can use the technology we offer to the same advantage that this large chain store retailer had. And it surely won't be the $500 million that they invested!
Despite the challenges of an ever-growing and ever-changing industry, POS developers have kept up with the times, constantly revamping their software to help independent retailers increase efficiency and profitability. Things like tracking customers and discounting at the point of sale to ordering product based on movement, extensive product sales analysis for purchasing, loyalty cards, kiosks and integrated credit and debit payment.
Even with the latest technology, many retailers fail to fully utilize their POS systems. I think most retailers don't get the most out of their systems, because they don't spend enough time learning how to use it and they learn to use it based on how they have always done business.
To get the most out of a system, a retailer needs to open his or her mind to change and perhaps doing things differently. Good retailers use their system to their fullest potential. They explore the available options and utilize the features to their benefit.
I wish you much success.
By Scott Kreisberg CEO, One Step Retail Solutions
Point of Sale Solution offered by One Step Retail Solutions: CounterPoint SQL: http://www.retailposcounterpoint.com