Point-of-sale (POS) front-counter software used to be distinct from that employed for accounting and other “back office” duties. Now the trend is to integrate the functionalities of both into a seamless, all-encompassing enterprise system that facilitates any marketing task imaginable and is completely customizable to the individual user.
The choices can be overwhelming, so it’s a good idea to develop some selection criteria to ease the purchase decision process. Generic POS software for retail is giving way to specific applications created for businesses ranging from antique stores to zoos, with one store to hundreds of locations. It’s a good bet that software vendors familiar with the day-to-day operations of tire dealerships and repair shops offer options specialized for those types of businesses. Reputable companies will work with you to develop a system that meets your needs, have a strong support staff to help you after the sale, and offer one-on-one training where needed. They will also provide timely updates that keep their system current, secure and fully functional with third-party software used by your suppliers. Ideally, you are looking to build a long-term relationship with your POS software vendor, who will be able to keep pace with your growing needs and sophistication about what such a system can accomplish.
Among other things to consider are: do you want the software installed on your company’s computers or do you want to use Software as a Service (SaaS), with the data stored off-site and accessible by web browser? Each solution offers advantages. Which employees will have access to the system and to what functions? While every employee should be able to ring up a sale, you probably want to limit access to the accounting and payroll data. What features do you need at the POS? Bar code generation and scanning; credit card processing/authorization; the ability to issue, track, and redeem coupons; fitment and inventory search (onsite or at the distributor); repair/service quotes and order creation; and customer identification, buying history and appointment scheduling are common requests. Maybe you’d like to add fleet and retread program support, electronic VIN capture, disposal and recycling cost tracking, the ability to keep ringing sales when the network is down, or data sharing between store locations? POS software can even be configured to help manage your social media, company website (including tracking quotes to e-mailed customer inquiries and supporting an online shopping cart) and mobile/smartphone apps.
Your competitive edge may depend on the data mining you can do with your software, based on its custom report generation capabilities. Can it track employee selling behavior, such as upselling or price cutting? Can it tell you at the POS which ads or promotions pulled the best? Can it generate e-mailing lists based on customer demographics and sales history? POS software is evolving into a unified solution that can provide information to help attract and retain your most-valued customers.