Retail storeowners do everything possible to make the shopping experience as user-friendly as possible. This includes larger aisles, discounts and deals, faster billing, attractive product displays, etc. All these are fine and they do improve the shopping experience but it all comes down to billing and wait time.
Billing Time Can Annoy Customers Considerably
The main sticking point for all shoppers has been the billing system. At peak times, the lines at the checkout counter can be irritating to all shoppers. No matter how fast the cashier tries to swipe items, a minimum of five minutes to 15 minutes as waiting time is to be expected. It’s worse if something should happen to the Point of Sale (POS) system. A technical breakdown of the in-store system can easily cause the store to lose all customers for the day as it switches over to a manual billing until the system is up and running. Now this may seem like a worst-case scenario but it is something that can happen. Imagine your system breaking down over Thanksgiving Sales or a week before Christmas.
Switching Over to Cloud Computing Systems
Business websites like BSMinfo point out that Internet-based point of sale systems could be the solution. Almost every store has Internet already and shifting the POS system to a cloud or Internet-based system could prove to be invaluable. A few immediate benefits of using a cloud POS system include the following:
Traditional POS systems are expensive but they are useful. For example, the SBA website states that a bare-bones system can cost anywhere from $3,000 to about $20,000 depending on the number of computers, software and features included in the system. This is just the set up cost and storeowners usually do have to pay an annual software license fee that is charged per additional register, and a yearly software update maintenance fee of 18-20 percent of the total fee. As the system is expensive, you are also stuck with the system you have chosen. Cloud based POS are cheaper as they can be integrated into any system you have at present. The system can be accessed through a browser and all store employees can be trained in 2-5 hours on the system. You do have to pay a small monthly fee but this covers instant software updates, instant back-ups, minimal downtime and 24/7 customer and technical support.
Instant Integration of Sales and Marketing Options
Cloud based systems like those offered by Shopify are designed to integrate with emerging software and programs. That means new sales and marketing tools can easily be added to the existing software with minimal problems. For example, an Internet-based POS system can track the customer as he moves through the store with indoor Wi-Fi technology. The Wi-Fi tracker connects to the POS systems and tracks where the customer stops, picks up products and returns products to the shelves. As this is happening live, the system automatically sends SMSs or messages to the customer’s mobile or tablet with the latest deals, coupons and freebies to encourage purchasing a particular product. Apple, in particular, offers iBeacon, which tracks shoppers in a store and passes this information to the POS system for better sales. The tracking system also prepares the POS system for mobile payments through PayPal, Google Wallet, etc. The customer can just scan the barcode through their mobile or a store personnel’s tablet and pay for it through mobile payment gateways. Macy’s has partnered up with Shopkick to make a special Macy’s Mobile App. The app has to be turned on inside the store, and browsing customers are rewarded with discounts, song downloads and freebies.
Combination Systems to Overcome Connectivity Problems
The advantage of technology is that it is now possible to overcome every defect quickly and efficiently. Cloud-based systems are no different as they do have a major defect. If Wi-Fi is down or unavailable for five minutes, you cannot swipe a card and you do lose customers. However, combination systems that work offline as well are available, and this overcomes the biggest drawback of a cloud-based system. Remember, this weakness is also present in hardware-based POS systems, and a breakdown in hardware systems will require a technician to repair the system. This repair will take anywhere from two hours to 12 hours to complete and in-store sales can stop completely during this time. Combination POS systems that integrate Internet and hardware-based systems are one way to get around this problem.
With the Internet invading nearly every aspect of life, it makes sense that a cloud-based POS system will be the next step in retail billing. Service providers can provide 24/7 technical support, customer service and many other services at an affordable monthly fee. As a result, large businesses are more than likely to shift over to this type of system to ensure faster billing and shorter checkout lines.