Data is a hugely valuable resource for businesses, yet it’s often overlooked. There’s a reason why 98% of Facebook’s revenue is from advertising, and it isn’t because such undiversified revenue streams are a smart strategy. No, it’s because data is their product, and data is the new currency.
The most likely reason for businesses not taking full advantage of their data potential is because it’s time-consuming to collect. This is where POS systems come in. POS stands for ‘Point of Sales’, and it refers to a hub where the customer executes payment for a service or good. This may be physical or virtual, and it’s a great way to collate and centralise your data to one place.
How POS Systems work
POS system providers usually offer both the terminals for payment and cash management, along with software to store the transactions. It used to be geared towards managing stock, cash, printing receipts and scanning barcodes. For a small retail store, this is perfect. The terminals often come in touch screens too, and will alert staff to protocol, such as checking for ID when necessary. This way, it mitigates a lot of human error.
Over time, POS systems have evolved to cover more aspects of the business. In fact, they really can be one centralised system for all operations to make things simpler for business owners. You can integrate your bookkeeping on it, manage tables in restaurants, provide instructions to chefs when orders are processed, and track staff actions.
This is all great, but the underappreciated gem here is the data. For all of these methods of input, we are generating a tonne of data. What products sell at what time on given days, which staff members are taking too long to process orders in the mornings, what products are bringing in the most revenue.
Most POS system providers will charge monthly fees because the service they provide is on-going. It may not seem like it, if you view the system as the physical terminal and a way to process transactions. The reality is however, many of these are cloud-based POS systems, and the features you’re using are online. Not only are they expensive to make, but there’s on-going costs for the POS providers regarding the servers and customer service.
Which POS systems offer data analytics?
Instead of covering some generic data analysis opportunities that POS systems can provide, let’s take a look at a few real examples.
Hike’s reports and analysis
First and foremost, like many POS providers, Hike has a dashboard in which you can customize all of the key metrics and data on. This provides a quick, brief snapshot of the business. For example, there may be 8 cards, with weekly turnover, weekly marketing spending, and so on.
Importantly, like with most POS system providers, Hike’s data is real-time and 24/7. This means that a late-night sale in the restaurant will immediately update the dashboard and database. For Hike, this means being able to analyse accurate, real-time data between multiple stores from anywhere in the world. So, even owners that are abroad on holiday can check on their mobile phone whenever they like.
So, what can you actually analyse? The reports that can be produced are on your sales, products, employees, shifts and categories. For example, you can see who is most productive and who may need extra training. Custom reports can also be created by using different filters. For example, a sales and employee report for each store specifically. This can then be automatically emailed to the store managers every week, month, or however frequent you like. In fact, it can be sent when a specific scenario happens, which then triggers a notification.
Square’s dashboard and features
Similar to Hike, Square has a customizable dashboard in which many widgets can be pinned. This dashboard can then be used on any device. It tracks a whole host of metrics in real-time, from marketing campaigns to gift cards. The sales analytics in particular stands out, with clear time-series data which breaks down sales on given days of the week, what time of the day brings in the most sales, and even breaks down the gross and net returns when factoring in discounts and COS.
It doesn’t have to be used on the cloud 100% of the time, as there’s a useful offline mode too. Customer loyalty is important for many small businesses, and there’s a loyalty plan feature in which you can assign gift cards and reward loyalty – this loyalty plan costs extra however.
BeProfit – eCommerce tracker
There are some alternatives to traditional POS systems when it comes to tracking analytics. Many businesses are now entirely online, so there’s no need for physical terminals and such. Shopify is a huge platform in which many businesses sell products on, and when using such a large infrastructure, there’s always going to be options to exercise your data.
BeProfit is one of those. This is an app that integrates into Shopify which allows users to explore their store’s data. BeProfit has fantastic data visualisation, making it extremely easy for users to digest what they’re seeing.
For example, you can view a total cost breakdown in the form of a pie chart, so you know which costs are getting out of hand. You can also view how much spent on each order, from online ads to the items and posting cost. It’s incredibly easy to compare all of these stats, because you can combine them in different ways to produce custom graphs.
Running a business takes a lot of time, and tracking data yourself isn’t a viable option unless you’re not running the day-to-day of the businesses. POS and analytics software is, for most scenarios, well worth the investment. Being able to visualise integral data, in real-time, for a brief moment can save a lot of headaches and mystery surrounding your operations.