How investing in modern point-of-sale (POS) systems
can help pet specialty stores grow their businesses.
The Power of POS
BY CLAY JACKSON
The days of mechanical cash registers and paper ledgers are long gone in retail. However, having a modern-day point-of-sale (POS) system is only as helpful as it is optimized for the business in which it’s installed—and a system that isunderutilized is barely more than a fancy calculator.
Industry insiders report that having a quality POS system is critical for pet specialtyretailers, from independent single-store operations to growing chains. In fact, some saythat having this vital piece of retail tech can be the difference between thriving in today’scompetitive marketplace or shuttering a store’s doors for good.
“As retail shoppers become accustomed to omnichannel experiences with large retailbrands, it has become mandatory for small stores and chains to provide their customers with those same options,” said Michael Stefanakos, vice president of FieldStack, aPortland, Maine-based company that sells POS and e-commerce software, services andhardware. “It is a new landscape where everyone needs to play like the major league.”According to Stefanakos, FieldStack can give pet retailers access to technology that,until now, could only be found in giant retailers such as Walmart and Target.
“We’ve created an entire retail platform, and so, FieldStack can do everything end toend, [including] inventory management; order management; point of sale; time clocks;e-commerce; buy online, pick-up in-store; gift card; loyalty—really everything that aretailer needs to run their business can be done on a FieldStack platform.
“The greatest thing about that is when you do that with an integrated product thathas been built from the ground up and not cobbled together, bolted together, you getseamless integration that is built to work together,” Stefanakos added.
And once a POS system is in place, it is the data that retailers can cull from it that isthe real prize.
“The core of what we do is analytics, and the analytics is looking at what you’vedone, and what you’re likely to do, and using that intelligence to make those decisionsof automation,” Stefanakos said.
Without a good, comprehensive POS system, stores are limited in their efficiency, saidLuke Johnson, owner of Luke and Company Fine Pet Supply and Outfitter, a pet store inDenver that uses Lightspeed, a Montreal-based software provider for cloud-based POSand e-commerce platforms.
“If you can’t measure your data, you have no hope of improving your efficiency and,
in turn, your profits,” Johnson said. “In a world where most companies generate sin-
gle-digit net profit margins, you cannot afford to give even 1 percent of your operating
revenue to inefficiency.”
Johnson reported that since becoming a Lightspeed customer, ordering has become
an exact science, the store can easily pinpoint products with low margins and top per-
formers, and inventory is more manageable, meaning “less money sitting on the floor
and more in the bank where it can be used.”
His decision to go with Lightspeed was informed by previous experiences with retail
technology. Before opening his own store, Johnson worked at two other independent
pet supply establishments and was less than impressed with either’s POS system. In his
search, Johnson did a dry run of three systems before deciding to go with Lightspeed
because of its “vast analytic capabilities and ease of use.”
“The fee is negligible for the amount of use we get out of it,” he said. “The analytics
value and labor hours saved by a well-designed POS system far exceed whatever you
spend on it monthly or annually.”
Lightspeed caters to small and medium-sized retailers through its Lightspeed Retail
(POS) and Lightspeed eCom solutions.
“We have 74,000 customer locations around the world, and our customers processaround $20 billion (U. S.) a year in gross transactional value,” said Bradley Grill, directorof public relations for Lightspeed.
“That’s the amount of money that goes through our system,” Grill said. “On average,our customers do about $500,000 in sales per year … and pet stores and pet supply storesare a big part because they have lots of inventory, many SKUs and so on.”
While these systems are designed to make the day-to-day operations run smoothly, theyare increasingly more functionally sophisticated and give stores tools they’ve never hadin the past. From credit card processing to inventory management, they can provideautomation that changes the way stores operate.
“POS systems have evolved into digital solutions that are revolutionizing how smallbusinesses manage their sales, especially if the systems are integrated with the management software of the business,” said Jeff Dickerson, CEO of Ann Arbor, Mich.-basedDaySmart Software.
DaySmart offers an “all-in-one, front-desk” POS solution for pet retailers called123Pet.
123Pet provides all of the necessary POS elements including a receipt printer, cashdrawer, credit card processor and barcode scanner, combined with business softwarethat includes digital scheduling, online booking, employee scheduling, payroll, businessperformance reporting and marketing campaign functions.
Aside from helping a store to run more smoothly, a solid POS system can also help itoperate more cost effectively. Labor costs can drain a retailer’s bottom line, but modernPOS systems can help reduce these costs through increased automation.
“A POS system that subtracts goods sold from the database simplifies inventorymanagement, potentially obviating the need for physical product counts,” Dickersonsaid.
And some systems can be designed to generate purchase orders, or automaticallyreorder, when inventory levels fall below certain thresholds, he said.
“A state-of-the-artPOS system can alsoreduce the amount oflabor required for apet business by automating many of therepetitive, manualtasks associated withcustomer follow-up,[e.g.] How was yourrecent visit?, or appointment reminders, [e.g.] Fluffy has agroom scheduled to
Teca Tu–A Pawsworthy Pet Emporium &
Deli in Santa Fe, N.M., picked a POS system
originally designed for restaurants, but
it’s been an upgrade over the old system.
“The analytics value and labor hours saved by
a well-designed POS system far exceed whatever
you spend on it monthly or annually.”
—Luke Johnson of Luke and
Company Fine Pet Supply and Outfitter
Modern POSsystems do more thantake cash and makechange. This POSsystem by DaySmartSoftware createscustomer databases,tracks inventory,
reporting and more.