“Work smarter, not harder,” says Shawn Cunningham, solutions specialist & business development, Sir Solutions. “Nowhere is that more necessary than in convenience stores.” It’s a timely reminder how POS systems can do more of the heavy lifting in day-to-day c-store operations.
Unfortunately, POS technology isn’t used to its full potential. “Shortcuts are taken to save precious time instead of being invested into learning and taking advantage of the functionality and automation POS can provide,” he explains. “Doing so would eventually decrease the overall work needing to be done and lead to much tighter controls of profits and margins.”
There’s a tendency to use only the POS software features operators know or need, while overlooking others that could be useful, including entering accurate costing, linking like-items together to update prices in batches (as opposed to individually), or even tracking slow-moving stock to ensure there’s no dead weight on the shelves.
“These things are relatively easy to implement and directly impact a store’s bottom line, giving visibility on real profit margins, weeding out underperforming stock and saving time completing tedious tasks,” he says. “Reports, such as sales by shelf location or by department, can provide insights on what kinds of products are selling and how physical location can affect their movement.”
Those reports can help grow business. “The more accurate the margins are, the more you get a real idea of how well the store is performing,” says Cunningham. Replenishment and forecasting tools can also make the ordering and inventory process smoother. “Using the system’s intelligence can go a long way in streamlining many operations and can even combat turnover since the POS can make it relatively easy to train new employees,” he adds.
Reduce operating costs
It's useful for c-store operators to shift their mindset.
“A common mistake is that retailers view the POS as an expense, rather than technology to add value and help their business,” says Kevin Wang, operations manager, Wiz-Tec Computing Technologies Inc. “When looking for a new POS system, many retailers just look for one with the lowest cost.”
Keep in mind a good POS, combined with good scheduling, can reduce operating costs substantially. Time and labour are much more expensive than a POS system.
He notes that operators may need to change their POS if they see long lineups, increased cashier errors, procedures not being followed, having to create complex workflows for simple tasks and spending a lot of time on paperwork. The key is to identify and understand the tools important to your business.
Training is essential
Wang also advises retailers to make sure their staff are properly trained on procedures and use of the POS. “That should make it easier to do things the right way instead of cutting corners,” he says. “Well-trained staff will increase throughput, reduce errors and loss, and will save time and work in the long run.”
Make the most out of each software’s different strengths. Wiz-Tec’s iPOS system prioritizes simplicity, speed and reliability. “Our industry is gas station c-stores and high-volume stores where the most consistent way to boost business and improve customer experience is to increase throughput,” explains Wang. “It isn’t a flashy feature, but a fast, accurate checkout process is tremendously valuable.”
When it comes to the data collected by POS systems, he feels an inventory movement report, which helps identify popular products, is one of the most useful. Daily balancing helps manage cash and high-risk items (like tobacco and fuel) and helps flag theft.
Experts agree operators should collaborate with POS providers to get deeper training on the software.
“Some operators have an incredible understanding of the features available,” says Lee Barter, senior vice president, Infonet Technology Corporation. “Unfortunately, many operators have not fully embraced the capabilities their POS/back-office system offers. Much of this is due to not having proper training.”
Infonet Technology offers online one-on-one training, 24/7 technical support and other resources to help its customers best operate their locations.
Better training assists Barter says operators may not be using under-used features like inventory management, promotions management and customer account management. “Operators can grow their business through sales reporting, which offers details by day, time, shift, margin, department, SKU, etc. and will show the best and most profitable sellers,” he adds.
To reap the benefits, tap into the expertise of POS providers and get that tech working for you to the max.