To manage long lines during the hectic spring season, employees can use tablets in outdoor nursery areas to help move traffic along.
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Independent garden center retailers are busy and have to-do lists that seem never-ending. There is one way to streamline your workload while also increasing productivity, strengthening operations and enhancing sales. Some independent retailers, however, haven’t caught up with this reality and as a result, are not reaching their full potential as merchants. It’s reported that 64 percent of independent retailers still do not use a point-of-sale system, and 74 percent of retailers are looking to incorporate software that would help with inventory management, according to Justin Guinn of consultancy firm Software Advice.

According to the 2016 State of the Industry Report published by Garden Center magazine, 60 percent of IGCs have POS systems, 6 percent are currently implementing one, and 33 percent reported that they did not use one. Our research shows more IGCs are implementing systems than in the past. For example, in the 2014 report, 43 percent of those surveyed said they did not use POS systems.

Georganne Bender, internationally recognized retail expert and one half of retail speaking duo Kizer & Bender, explains that POS systems can offer benefits beyond just inventory management — welcoming opportunities for retailers that they may not have even known existed.

“A good point-of-sale system is invaluable because it keeps track of inventory in real time and lets the retailer know what and when to reorder across multiple buying avenues, including in-store and online,” Bender says. “Additionally, POS can maintain loyalty programs, monitor sales, help with payroll and so much more in addition to inventory management.”

Expanding on this, consider the following advantages POS offers independent retailers.

Enhanced data

Human touch is undoubtedly a huge factor in creating store success, however human touch alone is not able to accurately manage the details of inventory and customer behavior. Thanks to sophisticated and detailed data collected via POS, retailers can identify best-selling products, slow moving inventory, favorable time periods of products sold, successful or failed promotions, employee sales and more — including real-time data. These key details are essential for merchants to make future buying decisions — ultimately leading to stronger store success. Without this data, however, retailers are unable to see their store performance as clearly. Before implementing a POS system, determine your sales goals, and measure them using the new program.

POS systems can improve customer service, as they tend to reduce wait times in lines.
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Up-to-date inventory data is available at your fingertips with POS systems.
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Stronger employee management

With part-time employees, seasonal employees, occasional store help and the everyday chaos of keeping a store alive and thriving, it’s easy for mistakes to be made when tracking inventory, managing customers and overseeing the operations of a store. With a POS system, however, there is less room for human error and more accuracy thanks to the automated details. From checking in employees upon their arrival and departure to tracking sales made by each employee to identifying who enters key inventory details and more, it’s an advantage for retailers to know who does what and when while working in your store. Through POS, you can do this — while also helping to make your employees feel more confident in their actions supporting your business. As ExpertMarket.com says best, “not only will POS help boost staff confidence, it will also save the company money if previous mistakes have led to employees under-charging customers.” Staff can also swap shifts with a set of guidelines, instead of constantly needing a manager to oversee it.

Improved mobility

Thanks to cloud-based POS companies that include Square, Vend, ShopKeep, Lightspeed, Brightpearl and more, retailers can confidently process consumer transactions from anywhere at any time. Whether via mobile, ecommerce, in-store or via an iPad, retailers can connect all their avenues of customer transactions through one consolidated system. Having this implemented into your own business can offer countless advantages, including having more accurate inventory management, ease of management and the ability to check in on sales, inventory, data and more. Plus, to manage long lines during the hectic spring season, employees can use tablets in outdoor nursery areas to help move traffic. Additionally, many POS systems can overlap between traditional retail and other operations — like IGC restaurants, the topic of this month’s cover story on page 16 — lending even more flexibility and adaptability to their operations.

Increased security

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There may be fear among some merchants in regards to losing the data their software collects and provides. While understandable, retailers can rest assured that trusted POS companies work hard to secure data collected and therefore, protect this data should a problem arise. For cloud POS systems, for example, merchants can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their information will always be secure. This is because when using a cloud-based POS, information is synced electronically and can be easily restored if lost. For merchants, this means there is no need to worry about losing data due to a power outage, employee mistake, hardware malfunction or other unforeseen event. Additionally, security offered through POS often offers additional protection from viruses and breaches — something retailers can appreciate because the data collected within their POS is the heartbeat of their store.

Saved time

Saved time may just be among a POS system’s most favorable advantages.

“A POS system offers more than just helping to manage inventory and streamline your operations. It saves you time,” according to Kizer & Bender.

With a modern POS system, transaction data can be saved securely with cloud computing.
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Finally, when you consider the value of POS for your unique store, consider what your retail goals are.

“You can’t improve what you don’t measure. A POS makes it easy to get the measurements that you need to make more money,” says Cathy Wagner, founder of RETAILMavens.com. “Any retailer who is serious about growth needs one.”

Nicole is the founder and publisher of Retail Minded, the co-founder of the Independent Retailer Conference and a regular contributor to various publications that include Entrepreneur.com. She is author of the book “Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business.” Follow Reyhle on Twitter at @RetailMinded.