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Small Business Tips

How Retailers Can Speed up Checkout Time

speed up checkout time

It’s fair to say that Americans value efficiency. According to Yale University, in their explanation of American culture to international students, this value is why Americans typically become impatient with slow-moving lines and why they expect efficient customer service. It isn’t just about values, though.

Another factor is that advancements in technology have trained us to expect things to happen immediately and to become agitated when they don’t. When consumers are shopping online, they can expect a pretty quick checkout experience from online retailers. After all, there are no lines to wait in and no personal interaction with a cashier. But what about checking out in a brick and mortar store? It turns out that consumers bring those same expectations for speed when they go out to shop. This creates a challenge for retailers, but it’s one they can conquer.

In this post, we’ll look at six ways you can speed up checkout time to meet your customers’ needs and expectations for efficiency, plus one bonus tip for keeping customers engaged while they’re checking out. When people know they can count on your store to deliver an efficient checkout experience, this gives your store a competitive advantage. As we’ll see, in every case, your point of sale (POS) system plays a crucial role.

What is a POS?

what is a pos

Before we jump into discussing the six ways you can reduce checkout time at your store, it’s important to understand what a POS system is. A POS system is comprised of the tools you use to facilitate the checkout process, also known as the point of sale. It includes components like a cash register with register terminal, a barcode scanner, card reader, receipt printer and customer-facing display screen. You can purchase these components separately or can opt for an all-in-one system where these various components are all designed to work together.

Since your POS system is what your employees use to check out customers, it plays an extremely influential role in the efficiency of the checkout process. Of course, your staff is just as crucial for ensuring that the checkout process goes smoothly, so we’ll discuss both — POS and employees — in this post.

1. Train Sales Associates

Retail sales associates are the ones who meet the pressure of customers’ expectations for speed on a daily basis. While these expectations may make cashiers a bit nervous at first, you can set them up for success by providing the proper training.

If your POS system provider offers training on the system for all of your employees, as National Retail Solutions (NRS) does, then take advantage of this. NRS also offers an online training center so that you can learn how to master your POS+ system without interfering with daily operations. It’s essential that all your cashiers are familiar with the POS system so they can confidently ring up items and handle payment without having to figure out the hardware and software as they go. While some customers will be gracious when they can tell an employee is still learning, others will be intolerant of having to wait.

Outside of the POS technology training, it’s also important to inform your staff of things such as how to greet customers, when they need to check ID and how to redeem gift cards. Ask any cashiers who have worked at your store for awhile what sorts of tasks or scenarios they wish they had been more prepared for when they started, even ones that rarely occur. Anticipating these situations allows you to prepare new staff so they know exactly how to handle these situations and may not need to call a more senior member of staff for help when they come up.

Even after employees have received training on the POS system and other aspects of the checkout process, they should observe this process in action. Have new cashiers start by shadowing a more experienced staff member. When they’re ready to try it on their own, make sure it’s during a slower time of day and that there’s a more experienced employee nearby in case they need help.

When your staff is well-trained and prepared, they’ll feel more confident and will be able to focus on providing fast and efficient customer service to every customer that comes into their checkout lane.

2. Have a POS That is User-Friendly

Another way you avoid the issue of cashiers having to stop or slow down the checkout process to figure out how to perform an action is to have a POS that is intuitive to use. When the POS register terminal and the software it runs on are easy to navigate and understand, employees are less likely to think, “How do I do this again?” and more likely to figure it out right away.

A complicated keyboard is likely to get in the way of efficiency, but a touchscreen with easy-to-understand icon buttons should have the opposite effect. It’s all about finding the perfect balance of a POS that is sophisticated enough with all the bells and whistles needed to handle every sales scenario but doesn’t appear complicated or confusing.

The POS+ from NRS features a touch-screen for sales associates with a large monitor, high-definition picture and easy-to-understand buttons. The size helps buttons to be spaced out from each other so you don’t accidentally press the wrong button. The screen even faces the cashier at an angle that makes it comfortable to use. Convenience and ease of use are factored into every aspect of the POS+.

Manual and outdated systems leave more room for error and involve more steps. A modern POS system is designed to make the checkout process easier for the employee, and in turn, faster for the customer.

3. Use a Barcode Scanner

Some small retail establishments choose to do things the old-fashioned way, with a calculator and a cash register. A step up from this is software that allows you to enter in product numbers manually and adds the totals for you. If your business is such that most customers only purchase one or two items, these methods could work, but they leave far more room for human error and are sure to take longer. If your customers typically buy more than just a couple of items, then you need a more efficient method.

In many situations in life, speed comes at the expense of accuracy and vice versa, but that’s not the case with a barcode scanner. A barcode scanner will improve both speed and accuracy in the checkout process. Instead of entering a product’s number or punching a price into a calculator, you simply scan the barcode, and the register terminal does all the adding.

If your store carries products from major brands, you can expect these products to come with barcodes on them already. The NRS POS system comes preprogrammed with thousands of products in its system already, which makes creating your pricebook even easier. For products that don’t have barcodes, such as homemade products, there’s a way to scan these in, too. All you have to do is create barcodes, known as PLUs, for these items and store them in your pricebook.

If you already have a POS with a pricebook and switch to the POS+ from NRS, you can easily transfer all of your pricing data to your new POS system with the help of an NRS expert. 

When you have a fast, accurate barcode scanner, you eliminate steps, cutting down on time and the potential for human error. Prices add up accurately as you go, and the customer can see every product that gets rung up, along with its price, on the screen.

4. Program in Promotions

We all know how effective promotions can be at driving sales, but when they create a challenge for cashiers and slow down the checkout process, they could leave customers dissatisfied. If a cashier forgets to do the extra math to discount a product or makes an error in their math, this could also upset customers. Since the whole point of a promotion is that it’s temporary, it can be next to impossible for employees to keep track of what items are currently on sale and how much to take off of each item.

If customers end up feeling like they’ve been cheated because a sales associate forgot to apply a promotion, or if they feel frustrated by having to wait on an employee to figure out how to correctly discount items, the promotions you meant to draw in customers and make them happy could end up causing more harm than good.

How can you avoid this scenario? The best way is to have promotions programmed into your POS system so that they automatically apply to items that are on sale. Programming in promotions eliminates yet another step for the cashier, making the checkout process faster and more accurate. The POS+ system allows you to enter any discounts you want into the pricebook software. Once you do this, that discount will automatically apply when that item is scanned, and the customer will see the correct, discounted price show up on the customer-facing screen.

For retailers who use the POS+, you have the option to use preset monthly promotions through the BR Club Loyalty Program. This way, you don’t even have to come up with promotions yourself.

5. Accept Mobile Methods of Payment

Remember when it was commonplace for customers to write out a personal check at the store? Today, most consumers rely on credit and debit cards for a more efficient way of paying. The next step in the evolution of fast financial transactions is paying for things using mobile methods. These methods are also known as digital wallet apps.

accept mobile payment

Despite the rising popularity of mobile payments, just 12 percent of small businesses in the U.S. accept these forms of payment, as of October 2017. This is bad news for customers who are used to the convenience and speed of paying for things with their favorite digital wallet mobile app. In comparison to this method, checking out with a debit card may feel cumbersome and slow.

You can accommodate these customers’ preference for mobile pay and can speed up the checkout process by making sure your POS system is equipped to take these innovative methods of payment. The debit and credit card reader from NRS is equipped to accept both Google Pay and Android Pay, in addition to more traditional payment methods.

6. Digitize Your Loyalty Program

Over the years, businesses have discovered the value of customer loyalty programs. They reward customers for their repeat business and, in turn, reward businesses by encouraging customers to remain loyal. While many companies take advantage of this mutually-beneficial arrangement, implementing a loyalty program is another factor that can slow down the checkout process.

Consider a common manual method — the punchcard. Let’s say a customer gets a hole punched in their card for every $20 spent, and after getting ten holes punched in their card, they receive a discount. Once the sales associate sees a customer’s total, they will have to determine how many punches the customer earned. They will then have to use an embosser or hole puncher to mark the card. If the customer’s punchcard is full, then they will have to apply the discount.

Every step of this process adds time to the current customer’s checkout experience and to anyone waiting in line. Automating your loyalty program through a digital platform greatly reduces checkout time and makes things simpler for everyone involved. Retailers with the POS+ have access to the BR Club program, a nationwide customer loyalty program for independent retailers that provides customers with digital coupons.

Many of the tips we’ve looked at for reducing checkout time have been focused on automating whatever possible to reduce the number of steps a sales associate has to go through. This makes the checkout process more efficient for both cashier and customer. Using a digital loyalty program fits right in with this overarching goal of automation.

Bonus Tip: Keep Customers Engaged

keep customers engaged

Even when your checkout process is relatively fast, customers are more likely to become impatient if they are bored. Retailers try to keep customers engaged by placing magazines, candy and more near checkout lines. However, these items are intended to engage customers who are in line more than customers who are currently checking out. The PRS+ helps you keep customers engaged while they are being checked out through colorful ads that occupy part of the screen.

While their items are being rung up, customers can be informed of upcoming promotions at your store or promotions from partnering businesses. In a world where people are so used to being visually engaged, use this to your advantage to keep customers happy and informed while they’re checking out.

Contact NRS Today

contact NRS

Small businesses have to do all they can to compete with the big guys. One way to do that is through consistently offering a speedy checkout experience to customers. As we’ve seen, having the right POS system can make all the difference when it comes to achieving this goal. If you’re interested in learning more about the POS+ system or receiving a free quote, contact the sales department at NRS today. We’ll help both your employees and customers enjoy a more efficient checkout process every time.

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Small Business Tips

How Your Independent Convenience Store Can Compete Against Chain Stores

compete against chains

What do you do when you need a cup of coffee, a sandwich, a gallon of milk and a bag of dog food? You could stop by a coffee shop, a deli, a grocery store and a pet store. Or, you could just pop into your local convenience store (c-store). Many Americans depend on convenience stores every day to meet their needs. In 2016, a total of consumers spent $233 billion inside U.S. convenience stores.

There are well over 150,000 convenience stores in the U.S. today, and just over 57,000 of those stores are operated by the top 100 convenience store companies. That means the vast majority of convenience stores are not widespread chains but smaller regional chains or independently-owned stores. In fact, 63 percent of convenience stores are one-store operations. These stores may be “the little guys” compared to the big chains, but by no means does that mean they can’t succeed.

So, how do small convenience stores succeed? If you own an independent convenience store, then this post is for you. We’re going to look at a few significant ways your business can distinguish itself and attract more customers, even when there’s a chain c-store or even a grocery or big-box store across the street. You can differentiate your store by being exceptional with your store’s cleanliness, your product offerings, your community engagement and your customer service.

Cleanliness

store cleanliness

Keeping your convenience store clean may seem like more of an obvious practice than an insightful tip. However, the reality is that hygiene is an area where convenience stores tend to fall short. Research from 2013 found convenience stores performed worse than any other retail channel when it came to consumers’ fundamental need for a clean, safe environment. Though this research is a few years old, the issue of cleanliness continues to be at the forefront of discussions surrounding convenience stores.

A 2018 article from Convenience Store News discusses the importance of a clean environment for maintaining and growing business. The author cites an example of a convenience store that was taken over by new owners who made cleanliness a top priority. After their first year as owners, sales were up 25 percent from previous years.

If many convenience stores are failing to maintain a pristine environment, then your store can stand out simply by prioritizing cleaning on a regular basis. Customers will notice the higher standards of cleanliness in your store compared to others they’ve visited and will be more likely to choose you over the other guys.

Other convenience stores aren’t your only competition, of course. Big box stores and grocery stores also threaten the business of small convenience stores. When it comes to competing against these stores, the same principle applies. These larger stores may have more trouble keeping everything clean and organized since there’s a lot more ground for employees to cover. Take advantage of your smaller size to keep every square inch as clean as you can at all times.

It’s a good idea to have a cleaning checklist where employees can write down the time they completed various tasks. Here are some cleaning tasks to make sure you keep up with on a regular basis:

  • Sweeping and mopping floors
  • Cleaning bathrooms, including toilet, sink, mirror and floors
  • Wiping down coffee bar
  • Dusting surfaces like shelves and window sills
  • Organizing and wiping down sales counter
  • Cleaning light fixtures
  • Washing display refrigerator doors
  • Disinfecting anything customers touch

By keeping your store clean, you let customers know that they are in an organized and hygienic environment, and you communicate an attention to detail and standard of quality that will enhance customers’ perception of your business overall. The old saying, “Cleanliness is next to godliness” applies here. People tend to associate cleanliness with a whole host of other positive qualities, so an immaculate store can speak volumes to customers who come in.

Product Offerings

Though you’re limited in size and can’t possibly carry the variety of products that customers find at big box stores or grocery stores, that doesn’t mean your product offerings have to be a disadvantage. On the contrary, the products you carry can help distinguish you from other stores in a positive way. The larger stores have quantity covered, so why not focus on quality?

This doesn’t mean high-end luxury items, just that you want to make sure you carry your customers’ favorite items. If they can get the items they want in a more convenient location, then that’s a win for them and you.

Generally, the items that are at the top of customers’ lists include staple food items, candy, drinks, pet food and over-the-counter medicines. You want to ensure you have a good selection of these c-store staples to meet your customers’ needs and expectations, but don’t just stop at checking off these items. Pay attention to your inventory records to see what sells and what doesn’t so you aren’t wasting shelf space on products your local shoppers don’t want or need.

You should also use your small size to your advantage by asking your customers what they want to see on your shelves. Unlike the bigger stores, you don’t need to undertake expensive market research to do this. Instead, all you need to do is include a comment box asking customers what items they would like to see in your store that you don’t currently carry. Or, just ask customers when they’re checking out. This gesture is sure to communicate to customers that you care about taking care of their needs.

It may be that customers want to see a different brand on your shelves. For some items, customers may not care about the brand, but for others, they are likely to have a preferred brand. For example, customers tend to have a preference when it comes to the snacks they buy. They may purchase another brand in a pinch, but why not carry the brand most of your customers prefer?

Another thing to consider to distinguish your product offerings is carrying locally-produced items, such as jarred pickles, honey or spaghetti sauce. With the demand for local food products rising, this is a forward-thinking strategy. Again, you can start by asking customers which local items they would like you to carry. Carrying local items isn’t just about meeting a practical need — it also demonstrates to customers that you care about the local community. After all, you’re a part of it.

Community Engagement

community engagement

Being community-minded is an excellent way to distinguish yourself from larger chains. Giving back to your local community shows customers that you’re not just out to make a profit — you’re a valuable member of the community who truly cares. There are several ways you can engage with your community.

One way is to give financially. Some local establishments do this is by sponsoring a local sports team or event. When you sponsor a local team or event, you can expect to see your store’s name on jerseys or signs, which is a great marketing opportunity. Just seeing your name on the back of a little league player tells locals right away that your store is a pillar of the community.

Another way you can give is by donating excess food to a local food pantry or soup kitchen. The food you donate should still be safe for consumption, but may not be as fresh as you’d like for selling. Or, perhaps it’s fresh, but you just made too many sandwiches or hot dogs that day. According to the EPA, many local food banks are willing to pick up food donations at no cost to you.

You can also allow charities or nonprofit organizations to host fundraiser events or ongoing fundraising initiatives at your store. Here are a few examples of things you could let a charitable organization to do at your location:

  • Install a donation drop-off bin in your parking lot
  • Host a car wash fundraiser
  • Sell cookies or candy bars as a fundraiser
  • Collect donations for families in need during the holidays

While chain stores can also engage with the communities they’re located in, the key difference is that they’re in many communities. Your independent convenience store is situated in one particular community, so you can take advantage of that smaller scope of influence to invest fully in your community.

Community engagement is something that marks the convenience store industry. A survey by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) found that 64 percent of convenience stores support at least five charities in their communities. While this is a high number, that means about a third of convenience stores aren’t giving back quite so much. Make sure your convenience store is one the community sees as an asset to your town.

Customer Service

small business customer service

No matter what industry you work in, customer service is essential. Customer service may not seem as important in a convenience store where many customers are in and out quickly, but it’s vital for the success of your c-store. Customer service is about more than just taking care of customers’ practical needs — it’s also about establishing a personal connection with your customers.

Compared to independent convenience stores, larger convenience store chains, big box stores and grocery stores typically have more frequent turnover of staffing. That can make it difficult for these stores to maintain a personal connection between staff and customers. This is where your store has an advantage.

When employees truly know the customers they serve, they know how best to be hospitable and meet their needs. When customers have experienced the excellent shopping process of a larger chain store, they are sure to notice the difference when you greet them by name, know right away what they’re probably there to purchase and sincerely thank them for their business. This kind of service builds customer loyalty and is one of the significant ways smaller, independent establishments can compete with larger establishments.

To provide great customer service, remember the acronym GUEST, which stands for:

  • Greet
  • Understand
  • Eye contact
  • Speed of service
  • Thank you

While many of these elements have to do with simply being personable, speed of service is another important way you let customers know you care. In this case, you care about their need to quickly check out and be on their way. One of the ways you can meet this need is through having a knowledgeable staff who is familiar with prices and how to operate the cash register and any other devices used to check out customers.

To equip your employees to check out customers efficiently, consider investing in a good point-of-sale (POS) system. A good POS system is designed to facilitate the transaction that takes place at your checkout counter. When your POS system is designed to make the checkout process quick and easy, customers will remember that they can count on your store to provide them with an efficient shopping process in addition to offering them a personable experience.

Stand out With the NRS POS+

nrs+ pos system

To get the most out of your POS system, choose the POS+ from National Retail Solutions (NRS). Our POS+ system is an all-in-one system that includes everything you need to provide customers with an easy and efficient checkout process, including a cash register, register terminal touch-screen, customer-facing display screen, barcode scanner, card reader and receipt printer. This combination of high-quality hardware and advanced software makes the POS+ the perfectly integrated system you need.

The software our POS system comes with includes a suite of store management tools that go beyond just individual checkout tasks. For example, you can use your POS+ to keep track of inventory and easily see what needs to be reordered when. That way you’ll never risk upsetting a customer who stops in for an item that is out of stock. As we find ways to improve the software, we will automatically update your system so you can enjoy the benefits of our ongoing innovations.

Another huge benefit of our system is that it’s designed to be compatible with our nationwide customer rewards program, BR Club. Through this program, you can encourage customer loyalty. You don’t have to struggle with manual methods of keeping track, like punch cards. Instead, your customers will be impressed by a smooth, high-tech system that’s accurate and easy to use.

We don’t charge extra for any of the valuable features we’ve mentioned. It’s all part of the unmatched support and service you can expect from NRS. Our customer base is made up of small business owners like you. We want to help your independent convenience store succeed by equipping you to compete with the big guys. If you’re interested in purchasing a POS system, learn more about the POS+ all-in-one system from NRS, and contact us today for a free quote.

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POS System

Five Reasons Why Your Small Business Needs an All-In-One POS System

small business pos

Starting a small business is a notoriously difficult challenge. Even so, every day, brave entrepreneurs all across the U.S. work hard to get their businesses off the ground. That’s how there are over 30 million small businesses in the U.S. today. 

Small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy, and they depend on the hard work and smart decisions of the people who own and manage them. Once you’ve established your small business, you have to continue to work hard to grow your company and help it succeed.

The most forward-thinking small business owners are always on the lookout for ways to run their operations more efficiently and satisfy both their customers and their employees. One way many small business owners are doing this is by getting an all-in-one POS system. POS stands for point of sale. The point of sale is where the transaction takes place between you and your customer. An all-in-one POS system typically includes the following components, which are all made to function synchronously:

  • Register terminal screen
  • Customer-facing screen
  • Barcode scanner
  • Credit card reader
  • Cash register
  • Receipt printer

The way the checkout process works is your customer’s last impression of your business before they leave. You want this process to be positive for them, and you want it to be positive for you and your employees as well. In addition to facilitating this process effectively and efficiently to leave individual customers and employees happy with their experience, an all-in-one POS system allows you to enjoy a whole host of benefits that can have a long-term positive effect on your business.

In this post, we’ll look at five different reasons why you should consider an all-in-one POS system for your business. If you want your business to succeed now and in the future, keep reading to learn more.

1. It Takes Advantage of Current Technology

current technology

Retail stores that focus on technology in their products may be more conscious of incorporating technology into their businesses, but many other types of small businesses may need more convincing to see why they should worry about keeping up with cutting-edge technology in their business. You don’t want to adopt technology just because.

Advancements in technology are all about improving the way you accomplish everyday tasks, and checking out customers is no exception. Customers are used to high-tech solutions in larger companies, and they bring those same expectations to smaller businesses. Additionally, as we all become used to using our smartphones and other tech devices, employees can quickly become frustrated with a system that feels outdated.

With an all-in-one POS system, you can enjoy a combination of integrated hardware and software that works seamlessly together to provide a comprehensive solution for the POS process. The whole system appears similar to the more manual system many people are used to, but it’s capable of so much more. Here are a few ways the NRS all-in-one POS system integrates current technology:

  • State-of-the-Art Software: The software that is integrated into our all-in-one POS systems help you manage your store using data analytics and tools. What’s more, this software automatically receives new updates as they come out that leaves it working even better, with new and improved features.
  • Alternative Payment Methods: The credit card processor accepts credit cards, debit cards and EBT as well as all other payment types, including Apple and Google Pay. This is important since mobile proximity payments are becoming increasingly common. There are currently about 55 million users, and that number is expected to reach 60 million very soon.
  • Customer-Facing Display: While customers are checking out, instead of feeling impatient or distracted, they can be engaged with the high-definition customer-facing screen. You can feature custom ads on this screen to inform customers about upcoming specials or sales events. No matter what you choose to display, this high-tech addition will be sure to capture the attention of your customers.
  • Mobile App: A huge advantage of a high-tech POS system is that you don’t have to be in your store to access information from it. Our mobile app, My NRS Store, allows you to use the internet to access all of your POS systems from anywhere. This isn’t a view-only feature, either. If you want to manage things from afar, you can do that through the app.

Now, you may own a bakery, hair salon or dollar store. It doesn’t matter. These high-tech features can be beneficial for any business.

2. It’s User-Friendly

user friendly pos

When something is high-tech, you might worry that it will be confusing or overly-complicated to use. That may be the case with some types of technology, but the exact opposite is true in this case. An all-in-one POS system is designed to be easy to use, for customers, employees and you. Here’s how an all-in-one POS system is user-friendly for each of these participants:

  • For the Customer: With the NRS POS+ System, the customer benefits from the high-definition display that faces them. This feature is especially important for a retail store. On this display, in addition to advertisements, they can see items that the cashier rings up along with their prices and any discounts that apply. They can see a running total for all of their items as well.
  • For Employees: Whether managing the POS system or checking out customers, the touch-screen monitor is intuitive to use. Our NRS System features a large, high-definition monitor with an interface that’s easy to understand. The screen even faces up at an angle to allow employees a more comfortable operating experience.
  • For Owners or Managers: Just as the POS+ system makes checking out customers a breeze, it’s just as easy to use for helping to manage the business. The mobile app makes it even more convenient for business owners and managers who aren’t always on site to work on the POS system in their store(s).

When it comes to an all-in-one POS system, don’t hesitate to adopt new technology because you fear it will make things more complicated. That couldn’t be farther from the truth in this case. An all-in-one system allows customers, employees and employers alike to benefit from the simplicity and ease of use it offers.

3. It Will Eliminate Guesswork

A lot goes on behind the scenes to keep a small business running smoothly. Take, for instance, a clothing store. In addition to the routine tasks of restocking shelves and checking out customers, managers have to pay attention to trends within the business. They have to know how their sales are doing overall and how their individual products are doing. Maybe there are some clothing styles and items customers can’t get enough of, while others are merely taking up room on the shelf.

When business owners want to check on the health of their business or track their trajectory, they turn to sales data. POS systems allow you to log this data on an ongoing basis and allow you to access it in real-time or however often you wish on a digital dashboard. Instead of using unreliable methods to track sales data, you can count on the information to provide accurate insight into how your business is doing. Because the various parts of the system are all integrated, you don’t need to transfer data from one device to another, either. It’s all right there for you.

It isn’t just sales metrics you want to track through your POS system. Inventory management is another area that can benefit from the accuracy and precision of an all-in-one POS system. Rather than using manual or low-tech methods to keep track of inventory, with an updated POS system, you can use the software to input and group items and keep track of what inventory you have in stock. You can also use your sales metrics to see what products are more popular and may need to be reordered more frequently and what products you may want to discontinue carrying.

With the NRS POS+ system, you can view an inventory screen that tells you for each product in your inventory whether the stock level is OK, whether it’s getting low or whether you need to reorder now. With no more than a glance, you can know how to keep your stock well-managed — no guesswork needed.

4. It Can Save You Money

So many decisions business owners make come down to the financial implications. We all want to minimize costs and maximize gains. Financial cost is one of the reasons some business owners may not adopt an all-in-one POS system for their company. A survey by Business.com asked small business owners a series of questions about technology in their businesses. When asked “Why haven’t you adopted more business technology?” and “What are your biggest tech adoption challenges?” in both cases, the most popular answer was that it was too expensive.

Adopting new technology typically does come with an initial cost, but this doesn’t take into account the potential for long-term savings. With an all-in-one POS system, your business can actually save money. For new operations that don’t yet have a POS system, purchasing an all-in-one system is likely to be cheaper than buying components separately.

If you already have a POS system, you could still save money by switching to an all-in-one system. Legacy systems that are not designed to encompass all aspects of your business’s sales, which often leave you having to find other ways to integrate the different systems.

In many cases, this means you or an employee spends valuable time manually transferring data. You end up with a loss in productivity, which directly translates to a loss in finances, along with the potential for inaccuracies. If you want to save some time, the cost to custom-integrate different applications is extremely high. Additionally, software updates that come out for either the POS or the inventory management system won’t be synced.

Another way an all-in-one POS can save you money is in the simplified maintenance. When all parts of your POS system are from a single vendor, you don’t have to pay for various vendors to perform maintenance or replace components of your system separately. These are just a few ways you can save with an all-in-one POS system.

5. It Can Grow With Your Business

grow your business

When you own a small business, whether it’s brand new or has a solid history, you may be looking to grow. If so, it’s important to consider scalability in every purchase and decision you make. When it comes to choosing the right POS system, it’s essential that you select one that can accommodate your business’s growth rather than cause problems if your business expands.

If you own a convenience store that is doing well and research shows you that you could have another successful location a few blocks or miles away, then you want to be able to take advantage of that opportunity. Whether your business grows to encompass more products, moves to a larger location or opens up additional locations, you want your current POS system to work in all of these scenarios. If you have different components from different vendors, and you want to replicate this system at other check-out counters or in other locations, you are looking at a complicated and expensive process.

When all components are integrated and can form a POS network that includes all the units you own, even across different retail locations, you continue to have a centralized way of managing your business and checking out customers. The mobile app that NRS offers helps to facilitate managing the full scope of your POS system from anywhere.

If you hire new employees, you don’t need to spend excessive amounts of time training them on a complicated, outdated system that includes several different components. Instead, employees will likely learn how to operate the system quickly and easily. The simplicity and precision of the system can also help prevent employees from making mistakes.

If you are in the more than half of small businesses that plan to grow this year, then you want your POS system to grow with you, and it can when you have an all-in-one POS system.

Why You Should Choose the World’s Greatest POS System

greatest pos system

Any all-in-one POS system would be a major upgrade for small businesses, but that doesn’t mean they’re all created equal. At National Retail Solutions, we understand what our clients need out of a POS system, and we’ve designed our POS+ system accordingly. Our system is innovative and easy to use to help you get the most out of cutting-edge technology.

You can enjoy the benefits we’ve already discussed here, and you also gain access to BR Club — a nationwide loyalty program for independent retailers. This program allows you to encourage customer loyalty by rewarding repeat customers who visit your business.

Our system, rated “Best High-End POS System”, is innovative and easy to use to help you get the most out of cutting-edge technology. It isn’t just the best, it’s also the best value on the market, so you can be sure your investment will pay off quickly. Learn more about the POS+ or contact us today for a free quote. We’re here to help your small business succeed!

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Small Business Tips

Products That Sell Best When the Economy Is Doing Well

Managers who want their small businesses to thrive keep track of economic trends. Now that the economy is strong, customers have more discretionary income to spend at retail stores. It is important to capitalize on the strong economic times by selling the products people are most interested in when the economy is doing well.

What Products Sell More in a Healthy Economy?

When the economy begins to grow, people tend to spend more money on both small and large purchases. Some consumers get wage increases that allow them to spend on large purchases like refrigerators and couches. Since loan rates improve with the economy, consumers can also invest in more expensive houses and cars.

Convenience store consumers will pay more money for high-priced versions of their favorite items. In other words, they will “trade up” for high-quality items. A boosted economy raises consumer confidence and encourages them to invest in the more expensive option. Expect brand name items to sell better than “Knockoff Brands”, and expect more customers to add impulse items onto their orders. For example, a customer that usually buys a sandwich and drinks a cup of tap water with it, may now decide to buy a bottled water and a bag of chips with his sandwich. Make sure to ask your customers “if they’d like a drink or snack with their order”.

While customers tend to buy more while their is a strong economy, they still love to save money with coupons! Try putting your more expensive, brand name items on sale at opportune moments. Programs like the POS+ loyalty feature and its linked BR Club encourage customers to buy from the stores that use their promotions.

Why Do People Spend More After Economic Growth?

When people have higher earnings, they can afford to pay for expensive items without taking out loans and dipping into savings. With an increased quality of life, consumers can focus on treating themselves to nice things. Loan prices go down when the economy thrives, and people of all income levels get a better chance at a good deal.

How Can I Use This Knowledge for My Small Business?

As a small business owner, you may wonder what all this information means for you. You need resourceful solutions to take advantage of these purchasing trends. Try using the following strategies in your business plan:

  • Offer promotions that your consumers care about: When you meet customers’ demands for relevant offers, your business sees more success. Use a POS like POS+ to track sales and create promotions based on the items that sell best.
  • Focus on customer service: Customers visit your store to get the experience only small businesses can offer. You provide a sense of community that online shops and car dealers don’t. Giving your customers good service encourages them to call you their favorite brick-and-mortar store.
  • Invest in your business: Thanks to lower loan rates, now may be the time to invest. Research the changes in business loan prices in the past few years to see if you can get a good deal in your area. NRS also offers quick and easy business loans.

Keep Track of Your Sales With POS+

The economy’s effect on your customers’ habits can have a unique impact on your store. Use a point of sale (POS) system like POS+ to look at buying trends and improve your business. Discover the benefits of POS+ by asking for an online quote or buying the system today.

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Small Business Tips

The Impact of the Calendar and Weather on Your Convenience Store

calendar and weather impact

A large number of factors affect how your business will run every day. Did you know that the date, time and weather can also impact the day’s sales? Consider the ways that these factors affect your small store when you plan your business strategy.

How the Time and Day of the Week Impact Your Sales

Your convenience store needs to meet your customer’s needs at the precise moment of their visit. Time of day has a heavy impact on what products are sold. Popular products bought by time of day include:

  • Early morning: Coffee, energy drinks and donuts
  • Late morning and lunchtime: Snacks, roller grill food, chips and fountain soda
  • Afternoon: Snacks and lottery tickets
  • Evening: Alcohol and tobacco
  • Night: Ice cream, cigars and pet food
  • Late night: Cigarettes and coffee

Each day of the week also features increased sales for specific products:

  • Sunday: Newspapers
  • Monday: Dinner products
  • Tuesday: No major trends
  • Wednesday: Iced coffee and fountain tea
  • Thursday: Healthy snacks
  • Friday: Tobacco, alcohol, candy and food
  • Saturday: Ice, charcoal and household goods

Daily sales are lowest on Sunday and increase gradually from Monday to Wednesday. Thursday, Friday and Saturday are the best sales days, with Friday having the most sales out of any day of the week.

The Effects of Clear and Sunny Weather

In places with cold winters, the first clear days of spring will encourage people to get out of the house. Your overall sales may increase as a result. When the temperature rises, customers buy more ice, slushies and frozen beverages. They also make more alcohol, tobacco and snack purchases for outdoor get-togethers. This is the best time of the year to build loyalty with new customers via promotional offers and loyalty programs.

Rainy Days and Your Store’s Operations

Rain may reduce your store’s overall sales for the day. Many customers prefer to stay at home during wet weather, meaning they buy items that help them get comfortable. When you know the forecast includes rain, make sure you’re stocked up on bad weather items like soup and coffee. Pastries and newspapers also sell better on days when customers prefer to stay in.

Snowy Weather’s Impact on Business

Cold temperatures and snow decrease the number of overall sales made, but they also increase the number of winter weather sales during storms. Consider stocking up on winter items like rock salt, windshield fluid with antifreeze and gloves. Drops in temperature increase hot coffee sales, so keep your hot beverage section in top shape. Colder areas also have higher sales of car cleaner and fuel additives throughout the winter months.

National Retail Solutions, Inc. — Partnering With Small, Independent Businesses

The ways that weather and time affect your convenience store’s operations depend on your location and store. You can use a point of sale (POS) system to track how sales in your store are correlated with the date, time and weather. At National Retail Solutions, Inc., we work together with community businesses by offering an affordable POS. Learn more about our POS+ by requesting a quote online or buying a system today.

Categories
Small Business Tips

Products Purchased Together Most Often in Your Convenience Store

products purchased together

To stay ahead of the competition, you need to understand customer habits, like the products people purchase the most. Your convenience store appeals to your customers because of the experience you provide. Customers buy an average of 2.6 items during a convenience store trip. What products do your customers buy together, and how can you take advantage of these trends? Discover the answers below.

What Products Do Customers Like to Buy at the Same Time?

According to market research, convenience store shoppers most often stop in to grab meals or snacks. Twenty-seven percent of them buy hot foods or dispensed drinks, and 17 percent purchase bottled beverages. Consumers also come to convenience stores to buy tobacco. Cigarettes make up 13 percent of purchases, making them the most popular non-food item. While cigarettes are a low margin item, many tobacco customers will also buy higher margin food items while they’re in your store.

Customers tend to follow these trends when they buy food or cigarette items:

  • Buying bottled water increases the customer’s chance of also getting bottled soda and vice versa. Bottled drink purchases also tend to pair with energy drink purchases.
  • Someone who buys fountain coffee has a significant likelihood of getting donuts.
  • When a customer buys food from the roller grill, they also like to get chips and drinks to go along with it.
  • Purchases of chips often pair with candy and soda transactions.
  • A customer who gets cigarettes has a high chance of also buying beer, energy drinks and soda.

How Does It Help to Know What Items Sell Together?

Understanding your customers’ favorite product combinations will help you know where your business can succeed. The unique preferences of your store’s visitors differ from what other store’s consumers like. Fortunately, many convenience shops have the same overall trends.

What Can I Do to Turn These Patterns Into Business Growth?

If you want to sell more of your food, remember the following facts and tips:

  • Stores that have deli counters can put snack and drinks nearby to encourage an extra purchase.
  • Teach your cashiers to ask customers if they want a drink or snack when they ring up a sandwich or meal item.
  • Make sure your shelves are low enough so your customers can see the whole store and all of your products when they enter.
  • Pair popular items together and offer your customers bundled promotional offers.
  • Use a point of sale (POS) system to discover which items your visitors love the most. POS+ can show you which items sell best in your store.

Discover Your Customers’ Buying Habits With a POS

A POS keeps track of your sales so that you can see what sells and what doesn’t. At National Retail Solutions, Inc., we believe that small businesses deserve the same technology as big companies. That’s why we have POS+, an all-in-one POS system sold at an affordable price. For more information about our POS, request a custom quote today. You can also go to our product page to buy it online now.

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Small Business Tips

How to Be the Leader Your Small Business Needs

small business leader

Growing your business takes more than just owning it. A successful company has a leader who guides their employees to success. How does someone become a respected leader for their business? We think these ideas will help you take on the role.

What Makes a Good Small Business Leader?

Entrepreneurs who run an efficient small business tend to practice habits that anyone can learn. An effective small business leader takes the following approaches to growth:

  • Planning for future challenges: Owning a business comes with unique challenges that you can tackle by planning. Consider you and your team’s strengths and weaknesses and how they could affect the future.
  • Developing a vision: When you became an entrepreneur, you had a goal in mind. Where do you imagine your business in five years if it succeeds? Make sure that everything you do relates to this mission.
  • Keeping progress in mind: High achievers remember the big picture. What little things can you do every day to improve your business?

Today’s leaders complete every task with purpose. They have a clear path of progression in their heads that serves as the foundation for their businesses. These entrepreneurs take a proactive approach instead of a reactive one.

The Differences Between a Leader and a Boss

Let’s think about the traits of a good leader from another perspective. What makes them different from a typical boss or manager? They practice a few habits that bosses don’t:

  • Offering guidance vs. giving orders: Leaders provide honest feedback and advice, while bosses give commands without explanation.
  • Listening vs. ignoring: A good leader pays attention to their staff’s desires and concerns, but a mediocre manager doesn’t care about such opinions.
  • Communicating vs. avoiding: Business success relies on communicating problems to employees instead of just hoping they go away.
  • Delegating vs. taking everything on alone: Leaders understand that they don’t have to do everything alone and let their employees help with their workload.

How to Lead Your Employees to Success

Using the approaches we discussed will help you run a productive business. Leadership is a habit that everyone can improve with, and you can practice by:

  • Learning about leadership styles: A study from the Harvard Business Review found the six most successful leadership styles in businesses. It also discovered that switching between styles brought the most progress. Productive leaders adapt to a situation by adopting the style that fits best.
  • Creating and sharing a vision: Your employees can help you achieve your vision if they also follow it. Their ideas and contributions will make it stronger.
  • Developing communication skills: Good communication is a critical tool in growing your business. Make yourself available to your employees, and learn how to speak, listen and write in easy-to-understand ways.

Manage Your Business With POS+

At National Retail Solutions, Inc., we work together with small businesses to give them the resources they need to succeed. A point of sale (POS) system tracks how your retail business is performing. We created POS+ to give community businesses an affordable option for sales technology. Learn more about POS+ by getting an online quote or buying the system from our store.

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Small Business Tips

How to Manage Seasonal Promotions at Your Retail Store

seasonal promotions

Would you like to offer a promotion to your retail customers, but don’t know where to start? How about a seasonal promotion focused on a holiday or time of year? Seasonal marketing gives you a theme to work with and a way to stay competitive with big retailers. Use the information in this guide to get started on a business-boosting seasonal promotion.

Popular Types of Seasonal Promotions in Retail

The retail industry recognizes a wide range of holidays and times of year. They run seasonal promotions to get their customers excited about saving money on products related to the occasion. Popular times for retail promotions include:

  • The winter holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s)
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Summer/back to school
  • Local festivals and events
  • Independence Day (4th of July)

When you decide on a seasonal promotion, remember that your customers come first. The people in your community may have their own events or don’t celebrate any of the most common American holidays. When you want to offer a deal for a different culture’s holiday, make sure that it’s respectful to do so.

How to Make the Most out of Seasonal Promotions

Now that you know where you want to start, you can plan your marketing. Try the following strategies to get the best return on investment:

  • Check out your competitors: See what small businesses like yours do for the same kind of seasonal promotion. In doing so, you’ll get to find out what works for customers and discover creative new ideas.
  • Get creative with the resources you have: You want to get as much as possible out of your resources to increase your bottom line. Create reusable marketing materials for this year and next. Before you buy anything new for marketing, check your storage for supplies that can be re-purposed.
  • Partner with other community businesses: Strength in numbers can help you fight back against retail chains. Find another small store to work with, and you’ll both see better results.
  • Schedule enough employees for busy times: The end of the year encourages many people to buy from retail locations. The holidays are also a popular time for employees to seek vacation days. If you run a promotion at this time, schedule enough shifts to cover your business.
  • Schedule Promotions in advance: Use your Point of Sale device to plan & schedule upcoming promotional offers.
  • Get help with your digital marketing: Advertising online increases the number of people who learn about your promotion. If you don’t consider yourself tech-savvy, get help from someone you know. Social media events can get the word out to a new audience.

Using a POS for Critical Business Insights

While you manage the strategy for your promotion, you can count on a point-of-sale (POS) system to handle the numbers. POS+ from National Retail Solutions, Inc. will track your sales for you. You can:

  • Learn what items sell during your promotion
  • Create discounts that apply when you ring something up
  • Keep track of the inventories for your most popular products
  • Manage orders from seasonal vendors
  • And more!

If you need a partner to help you organize your business and plan your growth, our POS can help. Learn more about POS+ by asking for a free quote or buying it from our online shop.

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Small Business Tips

How to Plan Your Business Finances

business finances

Financial management is a critical part of running a successful business. Staying aware of your financial situation lets you make informed decisions that grow your company. You can take out loans, change prices, and make hiring decisions with confidence as a result. As a small business owner, you can make a financial plan with the right knowledge. This guide will teach you how to create a basic strategy for your finances.

Make a Business Plan

Before you get into the details of your financial plan, it helps to have an overall business strategy. This plan will include information about your small company that puts your goals into focus. Generate a document with the details you need to put together a path to success — it can have as many or as few categories as you want. You can cover topics such as:

  • Products and services: What products and services will you offer? How will you solve your customers’ problems?
  • Competition: What makes other businesses in your industry successful? How can you use that information to your advantage? Make sure to walk around your neighborhood and assess your local competition.
  • Customers: Who will get the most out of your products or services? What is your target market?
  • Marketing: How will you promote your business? What marketing resources will you need?
  • Earnings and expenses: How will you earn money? Where will you spend it?

When you make a business plan for your own business planning, you can include anything you find important. Remember that if you need a business plan to apply for a loan, the company might have certain requirements. The U.S. Small Business Administration has more ideas for creating a business plan and explains the two main plan types.

Set Your Budget

Now that you have a business strategy, you can make a budget. This document lets you set the amounts of money you plan to spend by category. It helps you manage your spending and adjust your financial habits to make a higher profit. The categories you choose can include:

  • Rent and utilities
  • Insurance
  • Supplies
  • Employee pay
  • Inventory
  • Travel

Your categories will depend on your business’ needs and expenses. You can use software and internet tools to handle your budget or opt for pen and paper. Use whatever method makes sense to you.

Create a Financial Analysis

With a business plan and budget, you know how you want your financial future to look. A financial analysis examines your finances in the present. It lets you know about your small business’ performance and potential for growth. Your analysis will have three parts — the income statement, the balance sheet and the cash flow statement.

Your income statement subtracts your expenses from your earnings to find your net profit. Some people call it a profit and loss statement, a statement of earnings or a statement of operations. At the top, you write your business’ earnings during the period you choose. Then, you list the expenses you had throughout that period. After you subtract all your spending from your revenue, you get your overall profits, also known as the net profit.

A balance sheet shows your assets, liabilities and equity. It adds up things that have monetary value (assets) and subtracts money you owe to others (liabilities) to find your overall worth (equity). You subtract liabilities from assets to see how much you would have if you sold your business and paid your debts. Once you gather this information, you can see how your value changes.

The cash flow statement has similar information to the income statement, but it tracks how you spend your money. We call it a cash flow statement because it shows how cash moves through your business. It includes cash from operations (day-to-day activities), cash from investing (property and equipment) and cash from financing (borrowed money). You include the money you earn and spend in each category. Once you have these numbers, you can compare them to other parts of your financial analysis to see how you can manage short-term expenses.

What to Keep in Mind When Managing Your Finances

As you take care of your finances, remember the following aspects of financial management:

  • Professional help: If you have the money to spare, you can get advice from an accountant or lawyer. They understand all the terms we talked about in this guide and will help you create your records.
  • Taxes: Factor your tax payments into every part of your financial plan. Business owners also have to follow specific rules, or the IRS will charge extra fees. These laws change over time, so check on them every now and then.
  • Investments: Keep an eye on any investments you make, including retirement plans and stocks. You can see where they earn you the most money so that you know where to invest more.
  • Raising Money: There are many resources for you to raise the money you need to grow your business. Banks are one source, but there are many other Small Business Loan Providers.

Using a POS for Financial Planning

Point-of-sale (POS) systems keep track of your finances for you. They track the sales you make at checkout and calculate your total profits. The POS+ system from National Retail Solutions, Inc. has features meant to help small businesses like yours. It makes financial planning easier by:

  • Including everything in one package: When you buy POS+, you get the hardware, software and training you need to use it.
  • Tracking your inventory: POS+ counts the items you ask it to track as they sell. Knowing what your item sales look like helps you plan which products to fill your shelves with.
  • Recording vendor payments: You can add your vendors and vendor payments to POS+, and it will subtract them from your sales profits. It also prints a receipt for your records.
  • Processing card payments: Our optional payment processing service lets you take credit card and phone payments at a low price, which lowers the amount of cash you need to count for the day.

POS+ has an affordable price and easy-to-use technology that help small businesses grow. We offer a full range of services that can support your company. Learn more about our POS system by requesting an online quote or visiting the POS+ product page.

Categories
Small Business Tips

How to Understand and Market to Your Local Customers

local customers

Most small businesses‘ main customer base comes from the local community. Finding ways to reach out to the neighborhood is crucial to your success. You have many ways to learn about your area’s customers and create tailored marketing. Try some of the strategies in this guide.

Join Local Directories and the Chamber of Commerce

The internet gives you the opportunity to target people in your community looking for your goods or services. Google lets you create a profile for free. When someone searches for your business or specialty, your company will appear as a result. Creating a Google My Business profile also adds your business location to Google Maps so your customers can find you.

Your town or neighborhood probably has a chamber of commerce to join as well. These organizations let businesses sign up as members and get benefits like networking events and promotions. They can also give you advice on your community’s market and provide advertising ideas. There is usually a fee for joining the chamber of commerce.

Use Traditional Marketing Methods

People still use classic marketing tactics because they work. Flyers and newspaper ads can get the word out to customers in your area. The local TV news always needs events to report, so reach out to them about the kinds of happenings they want to cover. Their answer can help you make an event that the community finds interesting. Keep your business cards in your wallet so you can share them with anyone who shows interest in your business.

Partner With Other Community Businesses

Small businesses become stronger in the competition against big chain businesses when they work together. Promoting your goods and services at a second place increases the community’s awareness of your business. Consider working with an established local business to receive advice about your community’s market. They can work with you to create a partnership strategy that appeals to your target audience.

To get the best results out of a partnership, try working with a business that has a similar audience and different products or services. For example, if you sell flowers, you can team up with a jewelry store. This way, you’ll get to raise awareness about your offerings without encouraging customers to go to one business over the other.

Participate in Local Events

Farmers’ markets, festivals and school events often let local businesses participate. An event booth will give you the opportunity to promote your goods or services and learn about your audience. Local sports teams and events get sponsorships from local businesses like yours as well.

You can also find opportunities at trade shows and exhibits for your industry. Some of these events have a small business focus, while others target big names in the industry. Local organizations like your chamber of commerce can help you find relevant trade shows nearby. A simple search on the internet can also generate results for local trade shows in your industry. These networking opportunities help you understand the local market by teaching you about all of the different stakeholders in your industry.

Encourage Word-of-Mouth Marketing

People trust their friends’ and families’ recommendations for services and products. Giving your customers reasons to spread the word about your business will bring in new visitors who are excited to see your offerings. Since most people share an experience when it impresses them, you need to have excellent customer service. Make working with your business simple, pleasant and convenient. The results will speak for themselves!

If you prefer a direct approach, you also have the option of starting a referral program. Ask customers where they found out about you using registration forms or cards on your checkout counter. Reward people who recommend you for your goods or services with discounts and promotions.

Communicate Your Values

Customers count on small businesses to do a better job at personalizing their experience than bigger companies. This trust puts you in a prime position to establish your values with your clients. Think about the reasons you run your business. Maybe you want to make a person’s day brighter or raise awareness about a cause. Feel free to ask your loyal customers what values they associate with your business. Learning this information will help you tailor your message to the people who care the most.

Use Simple Social Media Marketing Strategies

Social media offers many tools for marketing to individuals and businesses. Try making a page for your business and posting updates about your inventory, discounts and events.

If you don’t feel comfortable with your skills, see if you can ask a tech-savvy friend or relative. They can make a post or event and share it with people they know. Business owners with the budget to spare can also hire someone to take charge of their social media. Many social media specialists understand how to use statistics to see what your audience likes.

Celebrate the Holidays

If you have an important holiday in your community, you can do something special to celebrate it. Plenty of options are suited for small and large budgets. Some lower-cost ideas include offering free samples and sending cards to clients. Small businesses that work with other companies can hold a get-together with clients to express their gratitude. Get feedback from customers you trust when you don’t know if you should market for a holiday.

Let Us Help You Manage Your Small Business

Every small business has a unique customer audience that business owners need to cater to. Our point of sale (POS) system, POS+, tracks your sales as you ring them up at checkout. Sales tracking will show you which items your customers buy and when so you can service them better. To learn more about POS+, visit our product page or request a quote today.