Source: Innovations International Blog

Innovations International Blog 10 Questions To Ask When Choosing a Rug Retail POS/Inventory System

Today's highly competitive and increasingly connected retail environment demands new tools that go far beyond traditional POS systems. The pressure from home furnishing eCommerce giants with hundreds of millions in funding can seem overwhelming to small-mid sized local retailers struggling to compete. In order to survive and succeed in the modern retail landscape requires a comprehensive business management solution that spans diverse retail requirements, in-store, online and on-the-go. It must be able to grow as you grow, help you increase sales, control costs, improve margins, manage inventory, build loyalty and bring in new customers.There are many POS systems on the market, but your register is only one piece of the puzzle. As a busy Oriental rug retailer, choosing the right point of sale & inventory management solution for your business might seem like a daunting task, so here are a few questions to ask yourself to make sure the POS system you choose meets all the requirements to help you focus, measure, manage and grow your business. 1) Is the solution specifically designed for the small to midsize retailer, and industry-specific to the retail rug business with all its unique challenges?There are a lot of cookie cutter business solutions available, but most have been designed for generic retail and don't meet the specific needs that rug retailers require. Be sure to look for a solution that is:Disruptive technology designed to challenge the status quo and provide small to midsized retailers with the tools to compete effectivelySpecific to the industry and tailor-made for high-ticket retailers like you who deal with:Multiple vendorsOn-approvalsConsignment goodsCustom ordersTried, tested, and proven by leading independent rug retailers 2) Do the developers have experience in your industry and do they utilize first hand feedback and insight from current users?In order to design industry specific business solutions, it is imperative that the developers have experience in the same arena so that they can include tools to cover the exact needs and best practices of the end user. The company that developed your software should:Be led by people with in-depth, hands-on experience in the industryBe informed by gathering the collective knowledge and intelligence of the best in the industryContinuously seek and respond to input and feedback from users regarding usefulness, functionality, and fresh ideasConstantly test the solutions in real-world, real store environments3) Is the POS comprehensive enough to cover all your needs?The baseline for a good retail business management solution is a powerful, comprehensive POS that offers more than just credit card processing. Pick a solution that specifically offers:Bar code scanning, receipt printer, cash drawer, and credit card swipe keyboard for entering customer orders, printing invoices and appraisal certificatesEasy tracking of customer payments, on-approval orders, consignments, trade-ins, and back ordersCapability to generate powerful reports that evaluate every aspect of your business from financial analytics to advertising returnsAbility to enter and look up customer information quickly and easily, including account status, credit line, and back-ordered items"Real-time" inventory control to minimize shrinkage, ensure every item has an accurate status in the POS database and auto populate purchase ordersSimple employee scheduling, management, commission structures and payment4) Does the solution implement and reinforce Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's)?To ensure smooth day-to-day operations whether you are onsite or not, it is essential that your business management solution is built to implement SOP's. Only a solution built around this principle can:Standardize your business processes and practicesEnsure strict accountability in all facets of the businessEliminate inventory "shrinkage"Guarantee continuity on a daily, weekly, monthly, annual basisDiminish the impact of employee or management changesPave the way for long term succession planning 5) Do you get the intuitive reports that you need to get an accurate picture of your business at any time?Reliable, accurate, timely reports are the lifeblood of your business. Without them, every decision you make is just guesswork. A comprehensive business management solution will include reports that:Push an immediate, up to the minute snapshot of your business to your attention dailyUpdate in real-time, system-wide, with every transactionAllow you to compare any moment in time - by hour, day, week, month or year - with any otherCan be customized and reformatted in any way - as spreadsheets, graphs, charts - with a click of the mouseClarify diverse information: best sellers, slow movers, shopping patterns, seasonal trends, customer demographics, advertising ROI and more6) Can the POS system grow with your business?To avoid the need to invest time and effort in implementing another POS if you expand, choose a solution that will scale with your business and meet your needs in the long term no matter how much your business grows. The best solutions will:Fit your business as it exists in the presentBe easily scalable to accommodate your growthWork perfectly in a single location and POS station or expand seamlessly and limitlessly to serve multiple locations and POS stations, back office workstations for admin and purchasing and a variety of printers for receipts, customer statements, merchandise tags, appraisal certificates and inventory and sales reportingOffer upgrades and additional optional features that you can add as you need them7) Is the solution a true all-in-one package that simplifies your life rather than creating new complications?That's really the goal of having technology in the first place. If you have to juggle between one solution for accounting, another for POS, a third for inventory management, etc., that makes your life more difficult. Find a solution that integrates all of the following into one:Point of SaleInventory management/tag design & printingAccountingCustomer managementVendor managementShipping & deliveryStrategic analysis & planningEmployee management & incentive programs8) Does the solution offer added value with time saving features that keep you informed, and provide the analytical tools you need to manage and grow your entire business?Large companies employ small armies of CPA's and MBA's to comb through and interpret their data and make recommendations for more efficient, profitable operation and intelligent planning. A topline business management solution will do that for you, and provide:Detailed analysis of historical data from various perspectivesAutomatic programmable alerts and notifications that push information to your mobile device -- allowing you to prevent problems and seize opportunitiesAbility to easily generate forecasts and projections to plan and manage growth with data-driven growth plans including group and individual benchmarks and incentivesClear direction for lowering costs, improving margins, and increasing profitsUser-friendly graphic dashboard that puts critical data in front of you daily and makes everything else available with a click of the mouseSeamless QuickBooks integration to save you significant time and moneyEmployee attendance and scheduling modules, along with appointment scheduler9) Does the solution offer sophisticated customer management capabilities?Gaining deeper insight about your current customers empowers you to purchase smarter, sell more and provide superior customer service. Look for your retail business management solution that makes it easy to:Gather basic personal information - name, address, phone numbers, email addressesDrill down for birthdays, purchase information, general spending patterns, service history, credit limits, etc.Customize customer profiles by adding fields to track any other data that you find usefulOrganize data to increase its usefulness in marketing and customer service categoriesPull up customer information with a click or keystroke, so you can personalize your sales approach10) Does the solution sync in-store and online channels to maximize your sales potential?Although ecommerce is booming, research shows that 85% of retail sales will still come from physical stores all the way through 2025. What's more, Forbes Magazine research indicates that consumers who shop both online and in-store spend 2-3x as much as those who only shop one. A retail business management solution should ensure that you capture all those potential customers by:Providing total integration between your brick & mortar retail location and ecommerce shop with a unified transaction engine that syncs inventory and sales data for powerful reports and analyticsDelivering pre-loaded vendor catalogs with optimized product data to automate web store product management without the need for a data specialist or web developerIncluding support in building and implementing a successful ecommerce site customized to your visionSmall to midsized retailers no longer need to work at a competitive disadvantage with the big box stores and online retail giants. New, affordable business solutions can level the playing field and even turn the advantage back to you but making the right selection is crucial to protecting your investment and time spent on implementation.POS solutions developed specifically for your retail industry will empower you to manage your entire business from a central location and are a giant leap forward toward recapturing and increasing your market share. They close the gap with inventory and eCommerce integration, enable you to expand your sales and marketing platforms to attract new customers, and give your staff more effective tools to close more sales. The best solutions automate SOP's and use data-based analytics to guide you to informed decisions, and much, much more.When you consider upgrading or implementing a new point of sale use these 10 benchmarks to determine whether the solution qualifies as a comprehensive, retail business management solution. Don't settle for less.

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