What is the smartest investment you can make in your business? It doesn’t have to be something huge, like renovating your store, buying new displays, or buying a huge amount of stock, instead it can be a smaller and more subtle change. Think about one that helps you to save time and money in the back office end and in the stockroom, and you’ll see just why purchasing a modern point of sale system is a smart investment.
Welcome to the Cloud
In the past decade, the phrase “in the cloud” has moved into everyday use from being a rarefied term for computing that is a service rather than a product. Essentially, a cloud service provides access to services in much the same way the power company provides electricity. Only in this case, the products being delivered can be software applications, document and backup storage, information, and website hosting. Resources are not hosted on an individual’s computer or a business’s own server, but rather in a “grid” of servers networked together that are accessed and used by individuals, institutions, and businesses in the same way that one turns on a light or uses the stove. These networks are classed as either public, where anyone can access them, private, where a membership or other clearance is required or hybrid, where some areas are open to all, but others require clearance.
The cloud has been a revolutionary development for small businesses, allowing access to levels of technology and software that many could not afford previously. Some of these “apps” are even free such as Wave accounting, GMail, and Google drive, while others, such as QuickBooks, Adobe Creative Suite, and MS Office have been rendered affordable by offering cloud hosting and monthly fees. ECommerce has boomed with platforms like Shopify offering retailers sophisticated internet storefronts and management tools that had previously been out of their financial reach. The cloud has become so pervasive that it is likely that 80 percent of small businesses, according to Inc Magazine, will be using cloud services by 2020. The rapid evolution of cloud services continues to drive demand in commerce, government, and even in private life – just ask any Netflix or Hulu user.
Okay, Now What?
Another thing that the cloud has made possible is for small retailers to level the playing field with the big names. While you might not have multi-thousand square foot stores, or buy merchandise by the 52 foot container, your business is important. Wouldn’t you like to have access to the tools to manage it and keep it healthy and profitable? Then your best small investment might be ditching the cash register for something a bit more comprehensive like a tablet based POS. Small businesses can now access the equipment, the software, and the instruction to undertake integration of the front of the store to the back office and the stock room. A modern point of sale system is a real time tool that tracks sales, calculates income taxes, watches inventory levels, and can even help stop shrinkage due to human error or even theft. Far from being a financial pitfall, a POS system including the cost of the tablet, will generally come in under $1,500 complete with barcoding equipment and other hardware.
The investment required is small, but the dividends can pay off in the long run. Detailed reports, real time accounting and inventory flow, and other functions make a POS more than a checkout counter with a cash register. Learning where your sales are weakest, what time of day is busiest, and which employees sign in gives you the critical information you need to operate. Even better, a modern POS is scalable, capable of growing with your business no matter where it is. Pop up retail is becoming a bigger slice of the retail pie, with sales exceeding 8 billion a year according to the Huffington Post. You can also easily take your business to craft shows, trade shows, farmers’ markets, and swap meets thanks to the mobility of a tablet POS. All you need is a tablet or a phone and a POS card slider, and off you go. Bringing along a power supply or DC to AC converter even lets you operate your cash drawer from a vehicle or boat.
There Are So Many Ways to Sell
When you factor in eCommerce, location sales (also called brick and mortar), and temporary locations, there are more ways to reach more people, and still keep track of your inventory and cash flow. A scalable POS opens more doors for you to reach more people, in more places, and make more money as the economy and retail sales continue to improve, according to Reuters.
That’s an investment that’s worth making, both for your current sales, and for future growth opportunities.
Photo courtesy of I’d Pin That.