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Using retail point-of-sale software to manage inventory

Gavin Dixon, CEO of the business division of Reckon Limited, shares his expertise on the value of retail point-of-sale (POS) software, and the benefits of inventory management.Retail Point of Sale software has many obvious benefits to the business owner – tracking sales, managing inventory, streamlining accounting practices, and building customer loyalty.

Not so obvious is its ability to deter theft. Deter theft? Shrinkage, or merchandise stolen by employees, remains a significant problem for the nation’s retailers. The Australian Retailers Association estimates between one and five percent of total turnover disappears this way with those in the jewellery, perfume and accessories businesses being hit the hardest.

Raising prices to cover those losses often isn’t feasible or competitive and with an absence of insurance policies to cover shrinkage, business owners see profits slashed and workloads increased to make up the difference.

Good POS software effectively manages inventory, allowing business owners and managers to view stock levels instantly. Accurate inventory control keeps them in control while ensuring employees are not helping themselves to merchandise. The result, most retailers will find, is saving thousands of dollars each year.Inventory management is by many accounts the most important benefit Retail POS software brings to the table.

Aside from the added advantage in working as a theft deterrent, inventory management capabilities enhance the business owners operations by allowing the creation of customised reports. Such files can track sales, stock items on hand, service items and even group items to be sold as a kit or purchased in a case and sold as six packs. All are at the software operator’s fingertips and are readily available in order to maintain at accurate pulse on stock levels.

Besides inventory management, what other features should business owners be looking for in a point of sale package?

Sonya Farrawell, a Reckon Retail POS software expert with Calculated Analysis in Sydney, says the software must be easy to use, produce professional results and include great reporting capabilities. In addition, it needs to be efficient so customers aren’t stalled at the checkout counter waiting for sales staff to process the transaction, she says.

Point of Sale software allows retailers to maximise their selling potential while at the same time keeping a close watch on income and expenses. Retailers can quickly see which products are selling and which aren’t, mark-ups, and those that are the most profitable.

Sales can be further enhanced through the creation of customer loyalty programs and promotional pricing that the business owner can establish for certain shoppers based on any number of criteria.

The real value, he notes, is using point of sale software to build customer profiles to include the items each purchases most frequently as well as the best selling goods over say, the last six months. This enables retailers to set up product promotions in advance to capitalise on customer buying patterns.

While tracking customer purchases, POS software can also identify which sales staff are selling which products and how much each sells over a given time period – a valuable tool for those business owners who pay their employees by commission.

Other functions an effective retail POS package will offer, Farrawell says, include the ability to create bar codes, integration with EFTPOS, multi-site capabilities and automatic stock level reorder points. For those in the hospitality industry, the ability to send orders to the kitchen, recall orders from any terminal and kitchen printing capabilities are also invaluable management and time-saving tools.

There is no question retail POS software is easy to use. Coop says it is the simplest software program to run at the counter with an operational logic that is based on a cash register. Many business operators still remain frightened of technology and computers in general, he notes, but once retailers realise how easy retail POS software is to operate, they never go back to the register.

Gavin Dixon is the CEO of the business division of Reckon Limited (www.reckon.com.au). Reckon is the supplier of QuickBooks accounting software.

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Gavin Dixon

Gavin Dixon

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