It is said that the E-commerce industry is poised to continue its upward orientation and rapid growth. How true! While working with Amazon, I was amazed to see how effectively, they kept a track of what customers order and the frequency of their order. What also dictates this pace is their focus on utilising their data for understanding customer behaviour and providing them with a better experience.
However, if I talk about the brick-and-mortar businesses in India, all I witness is that they are extremely occupied in running their business and do not have time to make it data driven. A lot of them consider it an expensive option; due to various reasons - ranging from the lack of technology to absence of simple and affordable solutions, which can help them understand their data.
The most commonly used technology by these businesses in India, revolve around Point of Sale Solutions. A lot of questions arise in my brain when I see these small businesses operating:
- Are ‘Point of Sale’ solutions, the end achievement for an offline store?
- What happens to the data captured during billing?
- Can the billing data be used for predictive modelling and hence, streamlining the inventory?
- Can the data be used to understand customer behaviour and provide a better instore experience?
- What is the reason for small and medium-sized businesses not being up to date about the customer segmentation, present-day demands and new market trends?
- What about poor customer experience and losing customers because of it?
Well, what exactly are POS systems? - In simple terms, POS systems are used for billing and managing inventories. Barcode scanners, receipt printers and debit/credit card readers are a part of the POS system.
The data captured by the POS systems can be used to ascertain Account Receivable & Payable along with Net Profit/Loss. It is all automated and saves a lot of time. However, there are certain limitations to the POS systems used in India. Let’s look at some of them:
- Most POS solutions are not cloud-based.
- They are poorly designed, hence, employee training becomes critical.
- No focus on data analytics and reporting.
- One dimensional approach to sales data.
- No emphasis on customer segmentation and understanding customer behaviour.
With these limitations in the picture, for the current POS systems in India, it is crucial for small and medium businesses to start looking beyond POS solutions. Moreover, these days everything is digitised. We are already hoping that the government’s Digital India vision will improve the standard of living and create new employment opportunities, leading to greater economic growth and development. But it’s just not a government vision; we have to also take initiatives. The more holistic initiatives are, the greater are the chance of success.
It is important for ardent retailers who are looking to boost their business, considering the competition in the market by the magnified e-commerce sector, to understand the gravity of data analysis and focus on next generation POS solutions. There is no time to lose, as technology is amplifying every day and new digital platforms and devices are surfacing in the world.
You might be thinking- What can be done by a next generation POS System? The next generation POS System can help in:
- Billing and Inventory Management - It will still administer to the need of billing the products appropriately and managing the inventory.
- Predictive Analytics - The repository of data can be perused for predicting future probabilities, trends, odds and gains. Accordingly, ameliorated solutions can be implemented.
- Data Analytics - As we speak about being up to date with the market trends, through data analysis, one can conjure up the items as Most Selling Products, Least Selling Products, and Most Profitable Products etc. in their store.
- Reporting - Effective Reporting always helps in discerning risks and opportunities. It is one of the major tools used in decision-making. Streamlining various processes in the business, reducing costs and improving efficiency are important advantages of reporting.
- CRM - An access to a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool, helps in managing synergy with current and future customers. The key to a successful business is not losing customers as it takes a lot of time and effort to develop new customers than to keep existing ones. Every business loses customers to competitors at some point. How many are lost, is the big question.
- Customer Segmentation - It is also important to segment customers based on age, gender, and habits to ensure the right type of products are available, whenever required. Customer Segmentation also helps in customer retention, efficient customer service, and increased profitability.
- MarketingWith the advent of technology and globalization, Email and SMS marketing are the best ways of promoting and selling products and services. One can use the data from the POS systems to discover, organize, and communicate with prospective leads, via Emails and SMSs.
And the list goes on...
No one knows their business better than its owners. Offline stores should not only focus on billing and inventory control but also understand the importance of the data captured in this process and use it effectively to stay in the competition. It is just data that can augment a business to perform well. Small and medium business owners can make better-informed decisions related to billing, forecasting, performance, inventory levels and marketing. Let’s take it beyond transactions !!
If you are a retailer and looking for the next generation POS solutions, we can be of help. Please visit our website (CustTap) to get a better idea about our product or drop us a line at Team CustTap