The holiday shopping season is here, and with it, the promise of booming business. But to maximize sales and minimize hassles, retailers need a powerful ally—technology! Now is the time to assess whether your store is ready for the holiday shopping season—and see how various solutions, especially POS solutions, can make it so. Here are some key questions to ask:
1. Is my cadre of POS technology sufficient to manage heavy store traffic and create the caliber of holiday shopping experience that not only keeps customers happy, but also encourages repeat business?
Holiday shopping can be stressful for even the most laid-back customers, so it’s important to make checkout as painless as possible. This may entail shortening lines by deploying an additional POS system at the main cash wrap station. It might also involve implementing mobile POS technology—e.g., arming store associates with tablets or similar devices so that they can process holiday shopping transactions anywhere in the store, whether customers are awaiting their turn at the checkout counter (“line-busting”) or want to bypass the lines completely by paying for their purchases right in the store aisles.
2. Do I have the technology tools to provide the assistance and services many customers need to get their holiday shopping done in my store, rather than elsewhere?
Some customers’ holiday shopping lists include items with which they are unfamiliar, but want to buy as gifts for family members or friends. Some shoppers come to your store for a particular product, only to find that it is available in the wrong color or size. Some want to shop “omni-channel style,” buying items online and picking them up in-store or purchasing gifts from your store’s website while at the store and having them shipped to recipients.
The right POS system enables you to handle these holiday shopping scenarios. For instance, store associates can use tablets to access product information and share it with customers at the point of decision. They can harness these devices to access the POS system to determine whether, if you have multiple stores, a desired item is available at another location, as well as to arrange for its delivery. A POS system with an integrated inventory control module also gives you a universal view of stock availability across the entire chain and in all channels (in-store, earmarked for fulfillment of online orders, and in the distribution center).
3. Do my POS reporting and inventory control solutions allow for better, more effective management of inventory to accommodate holiday shopping needs?
Your POS system should feature comprehensive reporting capabilities. By reviewing SKU-level sales patterns (year-to-date or from the previous holiday period), you can identify and predict your fastest-moving items and order them in larger quantities, thereby avoiding out-of-stock situations throughout the holiday shopping season. You can also determine which items merit, based on sales and anticipated popularity, special promotions to elicit greater interest among holiday shoppers. Additionally, a good inventory control and merchandise management module within your POS system can be programmed to generate re-orders once inventory on hand has dropped to a pre-set level, again preventing you from running out of product.
4. Is my POS system set up for efficient processing of returns and exchanges?
The holiday shopping season continues for several weeks after December 25, bringing to your store customers who want to return or exchange their gifts. The configuration of your POS system should be such that you can verify, through bar code scanning, receipt-to-item matching whether an item was truly purchased at your store. You should also be able to easily restore returned items to inventory-on-hand status in your POS system, as well as to reflect that an exchange has been made, with the touch of a button or by scanning a bar code.
The holiday shopping season can be the most lucrative time of year for retailers. With the help of technology, this season could be your best yet.