You can’t go wrong in collecting POS data. In fact, you’ll be all the wiser for it. After all, in knowing how customers are shopping in your store, you’ll understand how to take better care of them. That said, it’s all good well collecting this data. It’s just as important to know the value it can provide.
What is POS data?
Before we look at how you can get more from your POS data, it’s important first to understand it.
POS data, otherwise known as your Point of Sale data is relatively easy to explain. It’s the retail data collected by a retailer at the place a transaction occurs. On a macro level, that includes malls, markets or even a city. On a micro level, it includes cash registers, checkout counters and even barcode scanners.
Of course, cash registers and the like are only a small part that makes up the bigger whole. That whole is your POS system, which includes a combination of both software and hardware. And there are a variety of options available to you, depending on your store’s size.
You can go the manual route - calculating a purchase yourself and then issuing a receipt. That’s most likely if you’re a small store that is looking to cut out unnecessary costs. If you have a handful of stores, it’s best to use an electronic POS system. Such a system includes anything from a computer, monitor and cash drawer to a barcode scanner and customer display, and incorporates software to coordinate any collected data.
That said, considering the ongoing digitisation of the retail industry, there are affordable electronic POS options that even the smallest stores can use. As a smaller retailer, you also don’t need to have the most sophisticated POS system out there. Instead, pick and choose which system works best for you. Just make sure that you can access your POS data in its most granular format.
It’s also worth pointing out that your POS system doesn’t only need to be at the exit of your store. If your store is big enough to warrant a few departments, it’s worth including a few checkout points throughout your store. For example, if you sell both clothes and food, why not include two separate POS systems?
Why is POS data so important?
The data you collect from your point of sale is critical Why? Because it’s the starting point for any other data that you collect as a retailer.
Without POS data, you can’t run a profitable or efficient retail business. After all, how are you expected to manage your inventory properly without knowing what is selling? How will you tell if one product is more popular than another if you don’t have the data to prove it? More importantly, how are you expected to cater for your customers’ needs if you don’t know what they want in the first place?
Of course, it’s one thing to have the data available to you and another to do something with it. As Brent Dykes, a contributor for Forbes rightly points out; "The more specific and complete the insight is, the more likely it can be acted on."
How can you get more value from your POS data?
As stated above, POS data plays a vital part in helping you to run your retail business.
That said, it’s even more powerful when POS data is combined with other data around your business. Why? In combining different datasets, you’ll stand a better chance at making smarter decisions.
1. Inventory data
In combining your point of sale data with data around your inventory, you’re able to see what is happening at a line item detail level. For example, you’ve noticed that there is a total drop-off in sales of a particular product across certain stores. And this product is usually a good seller, so that’s a big concern for you.
With POS and inventory data at your disposal, you would be able to understand if inventory even arrived at the stores with zero sales.
2. Retail space data
In combining your POS data with data around your retail space, you can figure out what is going on at a store level.
For example, you’ve noticed a continued spike in retail sales, and it’s occurred two months in a row. That’s great. But to capitalise on that trend, you need to understand why there has been a spike in sales. Upon analysing the product space allocations, you might find that the increase in sales is in correlation to the fact that you've tripled the number of facings for that product within the store.
Using that information, you can extend that to your other stores so that each store can benefit from increased sales. Just a note of warning here: when pushing this to other stores, ensure that they are servicing the same demographic. The last thing you want is to increase facings at one of your stores that has a lower LSM and suffer the consequences of dead stock.
3. Loyalty card data
We’ve written about what loyalty card data can teach you about your customers. It includes telling you which segments to prioritise as well as which SKUs you should consider listing (or delisting) in your store.
When combined with POS data, it can tell you a whole lot more. For example, the data can give you the specifics around how your customers are shopping. That includes telling you exactly which items your customers are putting in their baskets and how often.
One example of how you could use this is by cross-merchandising products that are purchased together.
4. Marketing and Promotions data
By combining point of sale data with your marketing efforts, you’ll have a better idea of which marketing strategies and campaigns are actually contributing to your sales.
A simple example of this in action would be comparing your social media advertising spend for a specific product with the actual sales for the product in a region. Without combining these data sets you wouldn’t be able to draw a correlation between marketing spend and actual sales.
The power of POS data, when used properly and combined with other datasets, should never be underestimated. It can tell you a lot about your business. It can also tell you a lot about what you need to do to improve.