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To continue my series on 'Operating a Point of Sale/Trade counter - is your software up to the test?' - I have outlined below another 10 crucial features your ePOS system should offer you in order to provide a speedy and accurate service…
Does your system allow you to easily find customers from your database at the point of sale? Your system should allow you to quickly find a customer record by searching using all, or part, of the name, address, phone number or contact details. This is essential for speedy order processing and improved customer service.
The same applies for product searches – in a trade environment, it is not practical to scan barcodes for all products (e.g. bag of cement or queries via the telephone). It should be possible therefore to find a product by searching using some of the name, by identifying product group and working your way through a ‘tree’ structure, using alternative or manufacturers part codes etc.
I am always in favour of having the date and time of the transaction printed on the docket as well as the ‘you’ve been served by – Sales Rep’ added for good measure. This gives a better chance of tracing the relevant info when there is a query.
In a trade counter environment, it is important that prices agreed with customers in advance are acknowledged at the point of sale. In some instances, you may want the system to ‘remember’ the last price paid or at the very least have quick and easy access to previous amounts paid. Customer prices can be fixed, discount percentages, quantity breaks etc.
Depending on the application, it may be useful for your sales staff to choose the ‘Price Band’ on the hoof to provide the initial prices on a transaction. These can then be discounted as everyone loves a deal.
It is useful for a system to prompt the staff member with alternatives available for certain products. You may have a customer who is purchasing a drill from a well-known brand name but there may be a higher spec drill available at a cheaper price (and higher margin to you!!!) that you could offer if you were in front of the customer. The system should prompt the user with this information so that it can be used to please both customer and owner. The alternative product information is also very valuable where there is a stock shortage of a particular item.
You should never miss an opportunity to upsell. How often have you been asked ‘do you want batteries with that?’ or ‘do you want fries with that?’. Regardless of the environment, there are always opportunities to upsell. Your system should prompt you with products that are normally purchased with a particular item – if you are selling a strimmer for example, your sales person should be promoted to sell protective eyewear, spare strimmer cord and two stroke oil mixture.
As an owner manager, you probably wish sometimes that you could be in front of the customer yourself. Take for example the fact that you happen to know the builder who won the contract for the extension on the local school and he regularly purchases from you – wouldn’t it be great to offer him a great price on insulation without having to catch him yourself the next time he drops in? Your system should allow you to enter customer specific information presented to any sales person engaging with the relevant customer so as not to miss opportunities like this e.g. ‘Tell Richard that we have a special offer on insulation until the end of the month’.
One of our customers recently asked us if we could default the ‘Customer Selection’ message to ‘Ask for a cheque’!!!
As with the customer specific messages above, there are many occasions when you wish your sales staff could alert a customer to product specific information. This could relate to a hazardous warning, low stock of a popular item or myriad of other information. The whole idea here is that you empower your staff to deal with a product in the same way that you would if you were in the sales situation.
Where a system is used to its fullest potential, it should be possible to alert sales staff that a customer has had a quotation previously for an item that he is purchasing. Your system should prompt the user with the message ‘A quotation already exists for this item’ when a product has been chosen for which there is an associated quote. This leads to much better customer service and may mean a higher margin sale.
In many instances, customers can use the lack of a PO number as a reason to delay or confuse a payment. Your system should allow you to set a customer specific required field so as not to allow a transaction to be processed unless a PO number has been entered.
This is important when you are dealing with a tradesman or company working on several different sites at the same time. It should be possible to store a list of the different delivery addresses on your system to save having to type the address each time there is a transaction. Printing this information on the subsequent dockets is also of immense value to the customer who has to sort through their invoices for their own system