Retail Customer Experience: Five Underutilized Features of the Modern POS
By James Bickers,
Editor, Retail Customer Experience
a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an summary
of a current article from Retail
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point-of-sale system has come a long way from its mechanical roots. The
register, patented in the late 19th century, did little more than ring
up purchases and store cash. Today’s POS does those things, of course,
but it is also a sophisticated tool capable of amassing enormous pools
of business intelligence.
But for many
retailers, it is still essentially a cash register, and some of its most
ROI-rich capabilities are going unused. We identified five POS features
that retailers can make better use of:
has conditioned consumers to expect suggestive selling. While online
retail is perfectly suited to the “you bought this, you might also like
this” approach, a properly populated POS installation, combined with
appropriate employee action, can create the same effect in the store.
It’s not perfect
for all flavors of retail – nobody is going to get out of line at the
grocery store to get one item that is suggested at the checkout – but
it’s a perfect fit for many other purchasing environments where queuing
isn’t such an issue, such as a high-end mall apparel store.
remote management: Until
just a few years ago, Allen Wier, director of retail industry marketing
for NCR, said, many retailers were running DOS-based POS software, which
made any sort of comprehensive remote management difficult. “Now, pretty
much everybody is on Windows or Linux – in the U.S., mainly Windows,” he
said. “Now, you have the ability to do remote diagnostics.”
is different, but most major POS vendors offer varying levels of remote
management functionality. In NCR’s case, for instance, the system can
predict device failures based on the number of communication retries,
as well as keep a line count on the receipt printer so that it knows
when paper will run out.
Cashier training: Even
in the busiest of stores, there are times when terminals are left unused.
During these times, retailers can use the machines to carry out employee
training. That training can be existing assets from the company’s web
site or Intranet, or it could be something designed especially for the
Inventory management: Retailers
of any size already have inventory management systems at work in the
back office. But integrating that system with the front-of-house speeds
up business intelligence, giving managers a close-to-real-time view of
what’s selling, what is needed, and what opportunities are being missed.
and product assortment: Data
generated by the POS enables managers to plan their restocking strategy,
but it also enables a higher level of planning, specifically in regard
to which products to carry at which stores. Many
POS systems offer sophisticated Web-based dashboards that aggregate data
across multiple store locations – and allow managers to “click down” into
specific stores, to compare and contrast the activity of given products
in different locations.
Which of the newer POS capabilities show the most promise? Which
ones seem most easy to capitalize on and which will likely prove
to be a challenge?