Pet boutique finds more than point-of-sale capabilities in new system

Retailing is and always has been a tough business. Merchants work long hours, buy, stock and sell merchandise, try to keep customers happy and loyal, deal with staff and taxes — and hopefully make some money.

One of the major components of retailing is having an efficient point-of-sale system. Except for the smallest independent stores, long gone are the days of manual cash registers that rang up a sale and printed paper receipts to be added up at the end of the day.

Today’s POS systems are high-tech, allowing retailers to not only conduct transactions (from multiple stations, in or out of the store) but record data and provide sales and inventory information on demand in real time. Many store that information in the cloud, making it accessible from off-site devices.

The ability to get an up-to-date analysis of inventory levels and velocity of item sales means retailers can more efficiently manage their “open to buy” and re-stock merchandise when they need it to meet customer demands.

It also provides retailers an assessment of what they are selling when and at what price, which helps in determining staffing schedules, setting prices and evaluating and maintaining profits. From a marketing standpoint, a POS system also allows retailers to develop and better “mine” a database for outreach, as well as loyalty programs that can tailor offerings to customers based on their interests and preferences on a timely basis.

FLEXIBILITY AND EFFICIENCY

Finding the system that’s just right can be overwhelming to time- and resource-constrained small business owners. That’s the challenge that faced Courtney Stamm, owner of The Cheeky Puppy pet boutique in Washington, D.C. The POS system in place when the store first opened was “lacking,” she says.

Independent businesses want the flexibility and efficiency of being able to complete transactions and capture data off-site on different platforms.

“We focus on a home lifestyle bent, and we include items that are domestically made by smaller producers, artisans and other makers that aren’t necessarily carried more broadly in this area,” says Stamm, a veteran of the nonprofit fundraising industry.

“With our first POS system I learned that the phrase ‘You get what you pay for’ is a truism,” she says. “In my research for new POS systems I did a pro and con analysis on every system I looked at, and found that ShopKeep had the most checks in the pro column.”

The ShopKeep system was created in 2008 by Jason Richelson, a retailer who was frustrated with his POS system. ShopKeep is designed for small and medium-sized businesses and offers inventory management, sales reporting, human resources, accounting and customer relationship management tools. All of the data is stored in the cloud.

ShopKeep has three primary markets — independent retailers, full-service restaurants and fast-food restaurants — with specific features for each type of business, says ShopKeep Communications Manager Ayesha Herian.

“For retailers we offer an inventory matrix,” she says, while restaurants gain the ability “to clear checks from different iPads.”

Cheeky Puppy Dog

 

The old adage that today’s luxury is tomorrow’s necessity extends to the POS industry. Independent businesses want the flexibility and efficiency of being able to complete transactions and capture data off-site on different platforms. ShopKeep recognizes that growing demand.

“About four years ago ShopKeep expanded from a PC-based to an iPad format because that was what merchants told us they wanted. Now we can offer up-to-date technology along with mobile point-of-sale capabilities,” Herian says. “Our system lends itself to more physical location merchants but it can be used for businesses that sell ‘on the road’ and it provides flexibility.”

ShopKeep also integrates database management and email promotion capabilities. Merchants can capture customer email addresses and record what customers buy at what price and other data to create recency, frequency and monetary values. That information can then be used to create unique promotions or social media campaigns.

“Let’s say a coffee shop customer buys a vanilla latte and a merchant is offering a special promotion on a strawberry vanilla latte with a new kind of muffin,” Herian says. “We offer the ability to reach out to that customer for an up-sell.”

She emphasizes that one of the main things that differentiates ShopKeep from other POS suppliers is the company’s commitment to and delivery of customer service.

“We offer 24/7 support with two full-time customer care teams, one on the East Coast and one on the West. Customers can get in touch whenever they have a problem or just need some advice on a step or procedure,” Herian says. “Support is extremely important, especially when you are setting up, training new people or adding features.”

“If I am away from my shop and don’t have my laptop with me, I can log in to the shop from any web-enabled computer and see transaction data for the day and different analytics like what sold the most.”

Courtney Stamm, The Cheeky Puppy

‘TERRIFIC’ SERVICE

That delivery of customer service and support is one of the main reasons Stamm decided to go with ShopKeep.

“I called them frequently during our setup and our first month or two just because it was a new system for us and there were little quirky things with our Wi-Fi or our setup that we needed expert advice on,” she says. “The customer service has been terrific.”

Stamm praises ShopKeep back-end features such as the ability to track the cost of goods sold and to access the data on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Since The Cheeky Puppy also sells items online, she can make notes on withdrawals from stock for more accurate inventory and bookkeeping controls. She is also a fan of its off-site access and ease of use.

“It has some features on the back-end and administrative side that are more robust than some other POS systems out there,” she says. “I like the inventory management and analytics tools that I can pull.

“If I am away from my shop and don’t have my laptop with me, I can log in to the shop from any web-enabled computer and see transaction data for the day, sales totals and different analytics like what sold, what sold the most, when [and] what our busiest hours were. That is very helpful,” Stamm says. “It is also easy and intuitive for part-time sales people to pick up.”

Merchants don’t benefit solely from access to their own data, Herian says.

“In addition to our customers having their data, we also have it. Every quarter, we produce the ShopKeep Small Business Index showing the trends within different verticals along with information such as small business confidence.”

Alissa McCue

Alissa McCue

Alissa McCue has over 10 years of marketing and public relations experience working for top brands in retail and technology. As Senior Manager of Public Relations at ShopKeep, the #1-rated iPad Point of Sale System, Alissa is focused on highlighting ShopKeep's major achievements and thought leadership in the POS and technology space for independent businesses.