Point of sale (POS) isn’t just for coffee shops and hair salons. As a wholesaler, the right POS system could be the bridge you need to easily add a retail component to your business — and secure a valuable new revenue source.
The thought of doing some counter sales has probably already occurred to you. If you’re in a B2B (business-to-business) industry that lends itself to direct-to-consumer sales (or B2C), you might’ve even encountered a customer showing up at your warehouse location looking to make a purchase. If you think there’s a market for your business to make its way into retail sales, you should strongly consider going for it.
Typically, traditional B2B distributors have had three main ways of taking care of customer sales transactions: interaction with a sales representative, interaction with a customer service representative over the phone, and email orders. Of course, many businesses have taken advantage of web portals or ecommerce websites to reach their customers as well.
“What we have started to see in certain industries, as a way of diversifying their business, is B2B companies starting to sell B2C as well and offering a retail side of their business,” says Jacob Pegg, Director of Product Development at SalesPad. “These companies have decided it is worth their while to expand their business and open it up to be direct to a walk-in customer.”
Whether you simply want to add the option of in-person sales to your warehouse floor, or are toying with the idea of opening true brick-and-mortar locations, here are some key ways a good POS system could be the means by which you add a successful retail component to your wholesale and/or distribution business.
An additional sales channel
While you may be killing the account sales game, you could be missing out on sales that walk right by your building.
As Pegg mentions, opening up your company to direct-to-consumer sales is a great way to diversify your business. No longer will you have to rely solely on collecting outstanding payments from account customers. By adding walk-up options with POS, you’re creating the opportunity to capture sales you have may not otherwise gotten without a retail store.
Additionally, you may find that some of your customers who previously made orders exclusively online or exclusively over the phone now opt to make additional purchases in person. Adding a retail option creates multiple opportunities for your customers to find their way back to you.
Types of POS
Now, not all POS systems are created equal. If you want to add a retail component or retail location to your business, you’ll want to do so properly — you don’t want an inventory or accounting mess to deal with after getting in over your head. Here are some different categories that come to mind when talking POS.
There are the “traditional” point-of-sale systems, which can be as simple as standalone cash registers. These systems typically have buttons preprogrammed for pricing, or allow the user to key in pricing in order to pop open the cash drawer. A big drawback to this model is the amount of work required at the end of day to reconcile your cash and sales to your accounting or ERP system.
There are also desktop-based POS systems, which typically run on some version of Windows Desktop. For example, Intuit offers point of sale for QuickBooks Desktop.
Unfortunately, these systems tend to be a lot more expensive than cloud-based alternatives due to a higher investment in hardware and expensive licensing fees.
Lastly, there is what Pegg calls “the new standard” for POS — tablet-based systems (whether iPad or Android). These systems are typically what comes to mind when someone hears “POS.” Almost always less expensive than other forms of POS (like traditional and desktop-based), these newer POS systems are also, in many cases, cloud-based, which makes integration into your accounting or ERP system much easier. According to Pegg, many popular tablet-based POS systems usually have some type of API, which lends itself to easily pulling out data from your POS system and into your ERP system.
Key features to look for in a POS system
Now that we’ve determined that a cloud-based POS system is probably the easiest and smartest route to take, here are some key features to look for.
1. Meets your industry needs. You’ll want to make sure the POS you choose can accomodate any restrictions or requirements for your specific industry. For example, if you're a firearms dealer, you’ll need the ability to specify the serial number of the firearm that you're selling. Or, if you’re selling a product that has age limitations, like alcohol, you’ll want a system that requires users to ask for appropriate identification and captures that information, verifying that a customer is of age to buy a certain product.
2. The ability to access or report on data. In order to avoid accounting and inventory hang ups, you’ll want your POS to tell you what items you’re selling and what you’ve sold them for. Having the ability to track and manage your inventory in conjuction with your POS system will tell you the value of what you’re selling. This way, you’re not making key business decisions based on hunches, but rather on accessible data from actual sales.
3. Time card functionality for employees. When looking at potential POS systems, a feature to consider is the ability for employees to clock in and out. At bare minimum, this feature should offer built-in functionality for employees to clock hours at the POS station and generate reports based off of that data. On the higher end of time card functionality, some businesses want to save time by connecting data from the POS system to a payroll system, allowing for more ease in paying employees based off of the hours they clocked.
4. The ability to offer discounts and/or coupons. Again, avoid accounting issues by choosing a POS that offers the ability to take discounts for seasonal sales or accept coupons from customers. Sales and special deals are especially important in retail sales, so you don’t want to opt out of a system that allows you to offer this. For example, SalesPad Cloud’s POS allows users to set discounts at a customer level, as well as add discounts to individual line items or a whole order.
5. PCI compliant. POS systems can be big targets for hackers seeking your customers’ credit card information. It will be more than worth your while to confirm that the POS of your choice supports “chip and pin” or the latest credit card processing functionality necessary to meet PCI compliance.
6. Meets POS requirements for your state or region. Certain states and cities have different requirements when it comes to customer-facing screens. For example, the state of California requires that electronic sales systems provide customers a way to see the prices charged for individual items before paying. Failing to offer some sort of customer-facing screen with your POS system could land you some civil fees if your municipality requires it.
7. If going with a cloud-based POS system, does it support an offline mode? Whether you're prone to having internet problems, or just want to cover yourself in the event of being offline, you'll want to see if a POS system supports an offline mode. You don't want to lose sales opportunities just because you're having network connectivity issues.
Where SalesPad Cloud comes in.
Since SalesPad is the go-to operational ERP (inventory management, order processing, warehouse management, light manufacturing) software suite, our POS was created with wholesalers specifically in mind. Rather than an additional add-on software, SalesPad Cloud PointOfSale seamlessly integrates with SalesPad Cloud’s inventory management, with minimal setup required.