Leveraging your POS software is an integral part of increasing sales in retail. But in addition to being a powerful sales-driving tool, it can also help you optimize your time and streamline your business processes.

But a POS system’s capabilities don’t stop there. Day-to-day business has evolved to become more competitive and fast-paced, and modern POS software has evolved with it. POS systems now do more than just track sales. They can spur useful brainstorming and direct decision-making that can be applied to increase sales in your retail store — one bit of data at a time.

Numbers are great illustrators of what’s happening behind the scenes, and there are ways of making them talk. Let’s take a look at a few ways that crafty, number-conscious merchants can use POS software for increasing sales in retail and optimizing processes.

1. Good Reporting Helps Shift Your Perspective

One of the difficulties with constantly having your nose to the grindstone is that you tend to work reactively, as opposed to proactively, due to time constraints and pure necessity. That’s why the access to retail software for small business can help you stay a step ahead of the grind.

Simply put, reporting can (and should) be about more than just data analysis. It can be a catalyst for shifting your perspective to a more high-level overview of the decision-making process around your business. At its best, it can take you from working in your business, to working on your business, and it is the latter that’s ultimately going to propel you to make the kinds of decisions that drive your company forward.

By using the data from your POS Software effectively, you can target specific metric fields with laser-like focus. For instance, when do you make the most sales hour-by-hour, and what are the most successful item combinations during those times? Some business owners can intuitively answer this question. For example, they might say, “That’s easy! Brewed coffee between 7 and 10 am.” However, a lot of business owners can’t answer these types of questions. This means that opportunities for add-on sales and promotional offers may go unidentified. These are the direct management decisions that can be made based on data obtained from accurate and timely reporting. Leveraging your POS software, pulling reports such as sales-by-hour, and being familiar with the strength of its reporting tools can help you make these critical decisions.

2. Analytics Help You Identify Service Gaps

By analyzing your data regularly, you become accustomed to its flow and start to recognize patterns. The ability to recognize patterns allows you to draw important connections between facets of your business that would have otherwise gone unrecognized.

A prime example of identifying patterns is with employment management. Pulling shift reports by employee can help identify potential problems and pitfalls before they surface, and tell you which staff members are over/underperforming in the scope of their duties. For example, comparing employee performance during busy times — by analyzing the volume of sales transactions (by employee) and drawer variance — can show you who performs well under pressure.

Likewise, you can also determine what data you aren’t seeing, but would like to. For example, you might determine that it would be helpful to cross-reference your top-selling items with your most frequent shoppers, to identify if they’re skewing an item’s popularity when it would otherwise be average. You might suspect the opposite is the case — that they’re actually attracting new customers to walk through the door. But how can you know for sure, and how will it affect your marketing and display decisions moving forward? For absolute clarity in such a scenario, you’d need to look at the transaction histories, sorted by item, for your regular customers.

If you POS software doesn’t allow for you to monitor these types of trends, it should. Because any gap in your reporting capabilities can ultimately cause you to leave money on the table. If you think your POS software might not be working as hard as it should, it’s time for you to replace it with reliable cloud-based POS software.

3. The Ability to Interpret Reports Makes You a Better Business Owner

What area of your business do you feel like you know the most about? What about the least? Often, the second of these two questions is harder to answer, but also the most important. Sometimes, you can only determine this by looking at the data you don’t have, and that is nothing less than inconvenient.

You’ve heard that old saying about reading between the lines. In our case, it’s all about reading between the numbers. Gaining an understanding of your cumulative data can help you identify those hidden relationships and really make the numbers work for you. The most successful small business owners seem to reach an almost artistic interpretation of the data and are able to draw parallels that are more creative than technical. After barely glancing at sales reports, transaction lists, and shift summaries, they can deduce what kind of a day it was, which staff did or did not do well, and where they fall on the profitability scale. This may not really be necessary within the scope of day-to-day work, but it suggests there’s a lot more to raw data than first meets the eye.

SEE ALSO: Point of Sale Definitions — The Lingo You Need to Know

4. Data Translates into Immediate Value — Customer Satisfaction

Increasing sales doesn’t have to be difficult in retail. It’s easy enough to see that spotting new and improved ways to upsell or fill service gaps, based on current demand and customer behavior, is a great place to start. It’s also a good bet that filling these gaps (putting your best performers forward, for instance, both in terms of products and people) can improve customer satisfaction by a measurable degree. What’s that worth? Experts suggest that it could be worth quite a lot, especially when you consider that the word-of-mouth advertising provided by your customers remains one of the most powerful sales tools for your business. So make sure your POS Software has the capacity to collect and track customer information and histories.

5. Inventory Reporting Can Guide Growth

Plainly put, how do you know when it’s time to do things? Innate sense and intuition can be great resources, but in small business, they can only take you so far. Do you have the ability to track and measure your inventory and raw goods? What about an efficient and reliable way to organize and cross-reference the items you have in stock to determine if your sales projections are accurate or to identify theft?

Inventory tracking is a big deal. Without a trustworthy method of following an item all the way through its life trajectory — from ordering to sale to reordering — how can you ever hope to automate your merchandising system?

The ability to answer inventory-related questions at a glance can be a deal breaker when it comes to overcoming common snags with reordering and under/oversupply issues, seasonal variations in demand, and so forth. Ultimately, what every store owner wants is the ability to make data-driven decisions. So be sure to look at your inventory adjustment histories, when changes were made, who made them, quantities received, current stock, and reorder reports for the most up-to-date information on what’s happening behind the scenes.

To help you with increasing sales in retail via your POS system, your POS provider should offer comprehensive guides and reliable support staff to help you figure out your system’s capabilities. Whatever POS software you choose, make sure it offers you these tools as part of its arsenal and is committed to helping you become a better business owner. For small businesses especially, this can make all the difference.


Ted Polozov

Ted Polozov worked in translation, banking, sales, and technology prior to discovering his passion for writing. As a Customer Care Advisor at ShopKeep, the #1-rated iPad Point of Sale System, he focuses on helping his clients gain perspective from their reporting tools and become proficient in using their POS system.