Effective Handling of Multichannel Sales with POS Technology

As a growing number of retailers are finding cross-channel selling to be a powerful tool in accessing a much larger expanse of customers — both existing and potential newbies — they’re facing the need to examine the greater realm of strategies for multi-channeling. When properly executed, multichannel operation can effectively open doors that were previously closed for any business, to a new level of growth that is fully sustainable. It may one day become the predictor of any business’ viability within any competitive industry. By adhering to a few basic guidelines, multichannel sales will prove to be a transformative key to the exponential growth of your business.

Across the Board Consistency is Critical

The exact channel where consumers find your brand should be set to reflect the same products at the same prices — whether they are shopping at a kiosk, mobile app, on the Web or at a brick-and-mortar boutique. By providing this level of consistency for your brand’s buyers, you will sustain a good relationship by having matched their expectations. Consumers need to experience the same level of service from all product or service representatives, and they need the assurance that once they decide to make their purchase, they can do so, via any of your channels, without a delay from unavailability. Consider any unmatched customer expectations to most likely tarnish your brand image, and thus impair sales.

A Better Connection through Circumspect Knowledge-Processing

Regardless of the channel or the type of interaction your business has with customers, every channel for sales, and every point of contact with a company representative should include full access to each customer’s data. Included in this should be contact info and purchase history. You’ll help your customers to feel important to you and improve the speed for services rendered. There are multichannel software programs designed to serve as a framework for centralizing customer data and ordering details over a variety of sales channels and more help in processing sales for meeting the demands of your customers.

Deploy the Right Software for Your Business

In beginning, look at different aspects for the right fit. There are some good, key features to look for, like:

  • Expedite sales, service, customer requests and more by using a web-based portal, where all employees can immediately access data from multiple channels all in a consolidated format.
  • Regulate the management of all data on products to be consistent, across the board, from every channel that includes centralized capabilities for pricing and promos, across all channels.
  • Synchronization of inventory to keep all channels updated simultaneously with the same current info and inventory updates that enables cross-channel order fulfillment from store to store, with in-store pickups.
  • Integration provided for suppliers for articulate inventory access and offer more shipping options.
  • Capability to expediently split orders, split delivery destinations and payment options.

When today’s customers can easily find you, and make purchases at their convenience, they will be more likely to return, happily.

There’s Nowhere to Go From Here but Up–Cloud Technology and You

With the advent of cloud computing technology as a mainstream force, the benefits vastly supersede all previous systems. Among its strongest selling points are the means of needed support it provides for software companies. It diminishes or even does away with the requirement of IT staff, and users are assured of being provided with the most recent versions of updated software. Cloud computing effectively produces recurrent revenue while significantly reducing user expense. It greatly reduces piracy, and it resolves practically all previous glitches experienced with system incompatibility issues. All in all, cloud technology has brightened up the horizon for a more streamlined solution. This being said, there is a fly in the ointment, and it’s large enough to raise concerns over resulting ramifications if corrective measures are not put in place asap. Among the top issues are safe asset amortization, level of flexibility and some other security risks.

It’s Where the Big Boys Are Headed

As more and more major forces are heading for the cloud, owners of small to mid-sized retail businesses are considering making the same move, while questioningly hoping that the cloud-based system is truly going to be the all-around best (and safe) move for improving every aspect of their operational management, and not just some. It would seem that as the entire medical industry–hospitals, doctors and all–are trusting the cloud to handle your “HIPAA-protected” medical records, surely the cloud can safely handle the security issues of a small, independently-owned operation. Even the U.S. Dept. of Defense has gone “head in the clouds” for storing data of utmost critical priority. With more than one cloud-based options, specific factors are worth consideration for anyone pondering a win-win cloud-destined migration.

A Look at Cloud Features

While the bigger players within the software industry have been toying with various cloud-based solutions for some time now, they have yet to experience a fully satisfactory level of a selling, cloud-based solution. On the other hand, retailers and service providers within the mid range to smaller operations, with their comparatively limited range of operational tasks are taking off, cloud-bound, and finding an amazing boon to every aspect of what they need for cloud-based POS operational solutions. Conducting adequate research is critical in matching the right cloud solution for any business.

The Savings Are Hard to Ignore

With the significant chasm existing between costs associated with cloud-based vs.on-premise, licensed software, cloud solutions emerge as the clear choice, with “software as a service” (SAAS) model platforms can be implemented with an almost nominal upfront cost, and no subscription fees that must be paid every month, as long as the service continues. Maintenance is handled in the cloud, off-premise, and doesn’t require a disruption to the flow of your business that is normally the case with on-site systems. And the traditional systems require rather large upfront capital, and even then, you’ll need someone with a certain basic understanding of how to manage IT systems to make it work. Upgrades are typically annual, and they come with associated costs, as well. Thanks to cloud technology, a lot of smaller businesses without the capital to invest in an on-premise system are succeeding and growing nicely.

In looking at all the options, there are none without concerns where safety resides. Be assured that the security issue is one that will not rest until satisfactory solutions have been reached. Truly, there is no “one size fits all” answer addressing the type of system that will be ideal for you. There are excellent products in all categories, and your choice should be made thoughtfully and mindfully. And with cloud technology, we can anticipate advancements that will find more businesses looking up for their solutions.

Card Processing and Understanding Vendor/Merchant PCI Compliance

With identity theft at its all-time highest and rising still, it seems like all too frequently we hear of yet another credit card data breach, and yet, we’ve never been so dependent on credit cards for transacting almost everything. And this is not likely to change anytime soon.

The Full-Measure Security Standard

For this reason, the PCI Data Security Standard was established with a design focused on providing consumers with the highest degree of security attainable. With 12 mandatory regulations set forth by a consortium of the credit card associations, the Security Council safeguards cardholder data. Now, full compliance by all payment processors, including POS payment transactions and those by merchants of all sizes. These comprehensive security measures were developed as a way for the major credit card brands to facilitate consistent data security measures. Compliance with the PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) is a mandated requirement of all merchants.

So Good for Business That You’d Comply Even if it Weren’t a Lawful Requirement

By demonstrating that your customers’ payments are secure, you give them another incentive to patronize your business. If this were an option and not a mandate, the safeguarded transactions would net you enough revenue alone to prompt you to comply. It is, however, a mandate, and failure to protect the data of your cardholder customers could result in your company’s being fined in excess of thousands of dollars, and a poor standing in the eyes of the public – sub-par.

New Policies for Employees Tasked With Processing Cards

The unified requirements include removing any sensitive card data from your payment terminals and processing systems, and requiring your employees to learn and follow specific data security policies for every transaction. The list of these standards is available in its entirety from the PCI Security Standards Council, online.

Wait – There’s More:

Visa and MasterCard, as well as other payment brands have set forth their own data security requirements for merchants to follow for safest credit card processing. Each payment brand’s specific requirements are available via their individual websites and are your responsibility to know and follow.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All, in Compliance Reporting

There can be compliance variations based on the volume of card transactions each merchant processes. Some levels are required to validate and report their PCI DSS compliance to their acquirer, and some payment brands require it too. It’s your responsibility to know where you stand here, as well.

How Merchant Levels are Set

As a participating merchant, you will be assigned a level annually, as set forth by the payment brands. Each payment brand sets its own levels, based on the number of transactions you processed during the preceding year within their brand. This goes hand in hand with their distinctions in reporting requirements and deadlines for merchant validation.

Unified Payments’ POS 101

Unified Payments offers a thoughtful variety of POS software and hardware solutions that include basic card reader terminals to more all-in-one sophisticated devices for streamlined business management – from stationary terminals to freestanding self-ordering kiosks and tablet based devices. POS stands for Point of Sale hardware and software has become an essential component of both retail and the hospitality-industry, mostly due to the precision with which it processes information – particularly at checkout, and it’s what the customer sees when making transactions.

The Best POS Systems Come From the Best Full-Service Vendors

As the POS industry is in an ever-changing, ever-expanding process, it’s important to connect your business with a full-service POS vendor to support you as your business needs change. POS equipment streamlines the processing of cashless transactions for both small and middle sized businesses, and Unified Payments offers a wide variety to ensure that your business requirements are fully met by an affordable solution that will end up returning your investment quickly. Make sure you’ll have access to add-ons in addition to seamless processing for all transactions, merchant business analytics, risk management, fraud detection and 5-star merchant assistance and support with chargeback management services round the clock, seven days a week.

Moving Ahead With Technology

With the majority of POS systems still located at checkout terminals, they are beginning to be placed in a number of outlying locations, for added access that makes shopping and checking out more convenient than ever. Some systems are basically electronic cash registers that record sales, however today’s technology is advancing more and more POS systems to become components of a more sophisticated IT full-operational system that handles stock and inventory management with cost and profit, employee management (including payroll,) CRM (customer relationship management) and more applications are continuing to evolve all the time. In an effort to drive down both production costs and the cost of these products, POS vendors, along with retailers are tirelessly working to force a standardized, shared technology format for all POS systems.

The Move to Wireless

The equipment used for POS systems can utilize a number of various physical layer protocols, with Ethernet being a popular one, but certainly not the only. The characteristics of importance are expediency, flexibility and price. Increasingly, wireless technology is becoming the mode du jour, particularly by restaurants that feature drive-thru ordering and paying systems. The orders are received by a staff member outfitted with a wireless or headset system, from customers at the external order-only kiosk. Communication between the kiosk and the main POS system goes both ways. In the near future, self-ordering and payment systems should become standard components of fast food drive-thrus. The ordering and payment precision and flexibility of wireless handheld devices are becoming the reason behind so much of the restaurant industry’s burgeoning migration toward wireless POS. And web-based POS systems can run on any computer as long as there is an Internet connection and browser. This includes smartPhones and PDAs.

Help for Small Businesses: Tips for Getting Your Feet Wet in the “Must-Have” Stream of POS Technology

A POS system is the most significant operational asset to support your business, and you may have discovered, there are differences between systems. Knowing how to make the best decision involves research and time. Some of it can be presented in a consolidated format, which substitutes for considerable legwork on the part of the novice POS shopper. With the right POS system match, there’ll be no stopping your success and ability to attract and retain customers. Wind up with a poor fit, and you’ll likely wind up mostly frustrated and out a considerable chunk of change that won’t ever pay for itself.

What’s Out There?

In shopping POS systems, the first decision to be made is between cloud-based and traditional legacy systems. Your system will represent a long term investment for your business, and you need to know which of these will support your operations best. Keep in mind always that the POS industry is in a rather ongoing state of changing as improvements, new functionality and more streamlined solutions are found. And then, would the traditional POS systems or the iPad POS systems be better for your business?

A Brief Comparison

Legacy POS technology (also called “on-premise” or “traditional,) runs on an internal network that is closed, and stores all data on local servers. It can cost between $3,000 to $50,000 a year and entails an upfront license fee plus monthly maintenance. Your terminals are stationary, and there are limitations with data access, system integration and in using stationary hardware. Cloud-Hosted POS (also called “Software-as-a-Service,”) runs $500 to $10,000 a year with monthly payments, and you benefit from stationary and mobile terminals. The only limitation is reliant upon the quality of the Internet connection. With Cloud-based systems being Web-hosted, data is stored on remote servers for online access.

Cloud-Based: the Restaurant Industry’s Chosen System

A business using cloud-based POS technology can consolidate support for operation components that would typically take four or five vendors to achieve. With CRM (customer resource management) solutions, customer data that includes history can benefit loyalty programs, marketing incentives and online ordering. And as long as you have Internet access, you have full access to view and change your data in real-time, unlike Legacy POS, which would require you to be present, on site. Legacy systems charge for updates, which are usually done annually. Cloud-based updates and bug fixes are immediate and free. With Cloud-based technology, the hardware continues to expand, and tableside ordering has been an exceptional boon to the restaurant industry.

A Modest Beginning

The POS system you choose should be priced within your means and be easy for you to use. It should be more than a payment and sales processing tool. It should provide other time saving functions like inventory management, employee management, marketing tools and templates and offer adequate collection of customer data. You should have vendor support, 24/7, and your vendor should be able to offer expanded solutions dedicated to fit your particular industry.

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