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9 Must-Have Features for Your Next Small Business Retail POS System

There’s an antiquated view that retail point of sale systems are a lot like shampoo. There are many different brands, and even though each bottle has a different “must-have” ingredient, they all do the same thing.

At their most basic, small business POS systems help you ring up merchandise, process transactions, and track inventory. It’s tempting to choose the retail POS with the lowest price or most reviews and call it good. 

But here’s the truth: small business retail POS systems aren’t created equal. Knowing how to tell a cookie-cutter POS system and a customizable POS system apart is key in finding the ideal fit for your small business.

The easiest way to do that is by looking at the features, tools, and capabilities each POS system offers. We created a list of the nine essential POS features your small retail business needs for success in 2022.


These 9 Small Business POS Features can Make All the Difference

We’ve established that before you can determine the best POS system for your small business, you need to determine the features you need. But how will you know which features your business can benefit from in your POS system? 

The first step to identifying your ideal feature set is to look at the goals you’ve set for your small business this year. Do you want to increase efficiency? Maybe your goal is to expand your store’s reach or increase profitability.

Once you have your annual goals in hand, you’ll be able to compare these with available POS system features, tools, and capabilities that can help you achieve those goals.

Ideally, those tools and features all exist within a single software application. In this case, you would be able to avoid wasting time and resources implementing and training employees on multiple platforms. 

To simplify your search, we’ve pulled out the nine features your small business retail POS needs to have to achieve your business goals.

The features we’ll discuss in this post include:

  1. Robust Inventory Management
  2. Customized Hotkeys
  3. In-Depth Sales Reporting
  4. Streamlined Employee Management Tools
  5. Customer Loyalty and Sales Tracking
  6. Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable Tracking
  7. Preset Label Printing
  8. Tools to Combat Shrinkage
  9. Cloud POS Capabilities

Retail POS System Buyers Guide


1. Robust Inventory Management

Robust inventory management is more complex than a simple spreadsheet tracking order numbers. With robust inventory management features in your POS system, you can manage your vendors, SKUs, mix and match pricing, etc. 

When your POS system has robust inventory management features, you can automate portions of your inventory processes. For example, you can set reorder thresholds that will automatically reorder products when you reach a set level of remaining stock. You can also take advantage of features like case break inventory management and style matrix inventory control, allowing you to manage your inventory effectively regardless of the products you sell.

Related Read: What is the Best Retail Inventory Method?

Inventory management is critical for any retail store. Without robust inventory management processes, you may run into frustrating scenarios like overstocking or out-of-stocks. You also risk wasting valuable time and energy if you’re trying to track all this data manually in a spreadsheet.


2. Customized “Hotkeys”

Customized “hotkeys” are shortcuts you can program in for commonly purchased items. A related feature you may want to consider is hotkeys with associated photos. This feature allows your staff to reference items by sight easily.

One benefit of customized hotkeys is that it is a big time saver. Instead of wasting time and energy memorizing countless PLUs, your staff can use their time to provide value and attention to your customers. 

You’re likely always trying to do more with less as a small retailer. This means you need to be conscious of any areas of waste or inefficiency. Customized hotkeys are a simple way to save your associates time so they can spend that time doing things that matter to your customers.


3. In-Depth Sales Reporting

Do you know all the numbers when it comes to your small business? If your POS solution doesn’t have in-depth sales reporting, you may be missing out on vital information that could influence your business decisions and processes.

When your small business has access to in-depth sales reporting, you can keep your finger on the pulse of your retail store. This data will help you understand your current sales and profits, and patterns in your business. You can compare your sales today to sales from last year, sort sales by department, view profit margins, and more. 

As a small business owner, the more information about your store’s performance that you can have at your fingertips, the better. Without the right reporting, you may find yourself saddled with blind spots regarding your store’s operations.


4. Streamlined Employee Management Tools

Employee management tools include features like time-clocking and payroll reporting capabilities. You can use employee management tools to help you set employee schedules, track worked hours, and more.

Robust employee management tools also give you greater control over your POS data security. You can set specific user permissions and profiles, restricting access to certain POS tools and features based on an associate’s role. 

Related Read: PCI Compliance Checklist

As a small retail business owner, you may be tempted to manage your employees manually using a physical punch clock and setting schedules by hand. However, this is a massive drain on management’s time. By implementing a POS system with streamlined employee management tools, you can free up your management staff (and yourself) to take on more critical tasks.


5. Customer Loyalty and Sales Tracking Capabilities

Customer loyalty capabilities include POS features like sales tracking, marketing tools, and rewards programs for repeat customers. You can use customer loyalty capabilities to track sales for customers, enabling you to make more targeted promotional campaigns and win customers back time and time again by rewarding them for their loyalty.

Customer experience is more important than ever. Customers and businesses alike are prioritizing customer experience, and it’s not hard to see why: 86 percent of customers will happily pay higher prices if they receive an incredible customer experience at your store. 

Acquiring new customers is more difficult and more expensive than hanging onto customers who already shop in your store. Additionally, loyal, happy customers are likely to spread the word about their positive experiences, winning you more business. In short, tracking customer data and rewarding your loyal patrons is an easy and effective way to boost your bottom line.


6. Accounts Receivable & Accounts Payable Tracking

Accounts receivable and accounts payable tracking features can help you keep track of any outstanding funds you owe to vendors or outstanding balances you’re owed by customers, clients, and other parties. 

The benefits of accounts receivable and accounts payable tracking features are fairly self-explanatory. Keeping track of cash flow in and out of your small business is vital to your success. 

Without tracking features, you will be forced to manage your accounts payable and receivable by hand. In this case, you risk losing track of expenses or missing deadlines at worst, and you waste dozens—if not hundreds—of hours managing this information manually. Additionally, you will have a much harder time growing and scaling your business when you’re managing these types of processes by hand.


7. Preset Label Printing

Label printing processes are essential for managing efficient and effective checkout and inventory processes in your business. Preset label printing enables you to print labels for all inventory items, offering many different options for unwieldy, large, or grouped items. 

Properly labeled items make your checkout processes faster and help you streamline your inventory processes. Without a flexible and customizable labeling and barcoding system, your staff may waste time manually finding unlabeled inventory in the system, typing in PLUs manually, and chasing down grouped or case-break inventory.


8. Tools to Combat Shrinkage

Shrinkage refers to the profit and earning loss your business experiences due to waste, fraud, employee error, and theft. It stands to reason, then, that tools to minimize shrinkage are POS system features that help with security, waste, and more. 

The benefits of combating shrinkage are self-explanatory. Shrinkage eats into your bottom line. As a small business operator, you are already battling against challenges like lower profit margins, big-box retailers, and more. Lowering your profit loss due to shrinkage may spell the difference between success and stress in some quarters.

Tools to combat shrinkage may include features like exception reports that allow you to identify exactly which employees are giving discounts, voiding sales, or performing any unusual activity. You may also be able to implement cash drawer counts to easily track any discrepancies to a specific employee and POS terminal.


9. Cloud POS Capabilities

Cloud POS capabilities link your store’s data to the cloud, storing data in a hosted location rather than on-site at your store. A cloud-based POS solution provides you with secure backups, which mitigates your risk of catastrophic data loss.

One major benefit of cloud POS capabilities is the syncing of critical data. This backup means that if a catastrophe strikes and your store’s physical POS terminals are damaged or destroyed, your store data is still safe and secure in the cloud.

Small retailers need cloud POS capabilities because, while being a small business owner is a 24/7 job, you cannot realistically be on-site at your store at all times. Cloud POS capabilities allow for mobile reporting and a virtual back office, enabling you to access business reports and other critical data off-site.


Next Step: Find the Small Business Retail POS that Has Everything You Need

The features listed in this post are some of the most powerful and impactful for small business owners. Referencing this list will help you explore some of the features currently available for retailers today. Now, all you need to do is establish which features are essential for you to meet your specific business needs and goals. 

But finding the right POS software solution is only the beginning. You’ll also need to take steps to determine what POS hardware you need to succeed. POS Nation has a foolproof three-step process for selecting the perfect POS hardware solution.

Step one: you’ll want to reference our Retail POS System Buyers’ Guide. This free resource contains all the information you need to determine your specific needs.

For step two, you will want to use our Build and Price tool. This tool can help you build out your perfect POS software and hardware system and obtain a pricing estimate. After using the build and price tool, you’ll have a dollar amount to target when comparing vendors and solutions.

Your last step is to schedule a demo with our team! You’ll be able to see POS Nation’s solution in action, giving you the chance to ask questions and determine if our solution is the right fit for your store. 

Retail POS System Buyers Guide


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