In our practice, we run across a lot of retailers who are looking to either implement a Point of Sale System from the ground up. Perhaps they are a new retailer or have been using a cash register or they are looking to replace their current system.
To aid you in helping your prospects make the best decisions on POS, we have outlined some of the things that are important to consider to ensure successful outcome. Regardless of whatever systems you represent, your recommendation needs to represent the best fit for your clients business, even if that means you don’t make the sale.
Focus on the client’s needs not the desired outcome. Start by investigating the client’s requirements. A series of open ended questions, preferably targeted around their industry is best. This initial interview is your discovery process to learn about the business and its decision makers. You may be tempted to jump right into a demo without understanding what the customer truly wants or needs. Try not to do that. Skipping right to the demo before you know what their issues are can be a recipe for failure.
Examples of questions needing to be asked include:
1) Walk me through the process of how you ring up a sale today
2) Do you have orders or special orders in your business?
3) What do you like best about your current system (everyone has a system even if it’s just a cash register or receipt book)?
4) What do you like the least (this is an important question)?
5) How do you want to track your inventory?
6) Are you selling off the web? How do you get these orders into your current system?
7) Are you offering a customer loyalty program?
These questions are designed to help the prospective customer think about their business. They also help you understand what the customer is thinking and why they really want to change. Keep in mind that choosing off the shelf software is a balance between what your customer needs, would like, can afford and what the software can do. Helping the customer understand this will cement your position of a trusted advisor.
At the heart of any good POS system is inventory management, so questions should focus on their inventory needs. A lot of systems in the marketplace today fail to provide the inventory tracking the customer really needs for their specific business. Whether that is apparel with sizes or shoes with sizes and color and widths, make sure the customer understands their needs and if each proposed solution can handle it. A customer may choose a less expensive solution – just make sure they understand what they are giving up and that usually means inventory functionality.
Next thing to consider is the POS hardware. Whatever software is under consideration will have its specific hardware requirements. Tablet and iDevice based solutions are becoming mainstream and there is a lot to be said for the clean look of those solutions. It can present a very modern looking system that appeals to younger sales clerks who have grown up on smart phones. But a slick look will not make up for a system that cannot process sales or track inventory the way a retailer really needs.
Windows machines are still the #1 choice for retail POS. Make sure the customer understands the minimum requirements for the software you represent. Depending on the environment, you may want to consider suggesting the customer invest in Retail Grade Equipment. This is hardware that is designed to work in a more “hostile” environment. There is a big difference between getting hardware that will run in a woman’s high end boutique verses an outdoor retail space or warehouse. Sun, dirt, dust, and water in a retail environment will affect the system. Ruggedized hardware is more expensive, but generally comes with better warranties and support.
Best Practice: only use the Professional Version of Windows! It is possible the client may want to go with whatever is on special at the local big box electronic retailer and get their system. Just make sure they understand what this means for their business. If they can’t ring up sales because of a hardware problem, then they will be pulling out an old cash register or hand writing tickets till the problem is fixed.
Lastly, but probably the most important and over looked component, is who will be implementing the software. Are you going to help the client? Is the client going to do it themselves? If POS is not a focus of their business, they should consider getting a POS expert to help them implement the system. Avoid the mindset that says you can do it yourself if you are new to retail. Consultants who try to implement a POS system without the proper background will setup the system up incorrectly, miss key features of the software and make decisions that have unintended consequences for the customer. Set the expectation with the customer that professional services including training and implementation are key to a successful outcome and if they need help, contract it out to an expert.
About the Author: Insightful Accountant Contributing Authority William S. English is President of English Management Solutions, Inc., and a recognized expert in Point of Sale products including QuickBooks Point-of-Sale and QuickBooks Point-of-Sale for iPad powered by Revel Systems.