Customer Loyalty: POS = Power of Suggestion?
In January 2001, Mary, my wife and partner, and I purchased the business I had previously managed for five years with annual sales of $650,000.
September 29, 2008
In January 2001, Mary, my wife and partner, and I purchased the business I had previously managed for five years with annual sales of $650,000. Our business, Gary’s Gardens, is located in Severna Park, Md., on a 1.25-acre lot, which consists of a 900-square-foot building and a 3,600-square-foot gutter-connect, cover-only greenhouse. We have been extremely fortunate to realize 20 percent average annual growth with anticipated sales of $1.5 million this year.
Mary and I found the latter definition (power of suggestion) to be more of a reality in our pursuit of purchasing our first POS system. The suggestion relates to our excitement and enthusiasm to grow our new business to its fullest potential and thinking that a POS system would do just that, only to realize the purchase decision of our first POS was not based on specific needs and results we desired.
Our experiences made us realize that the system needs to be user friendly both in what we call “front of the house” and “back of the house.” With that in mind, we purchased our second POS system just six months later. Now, after completing our first year, we are realizing many advantages to our investment.
Improved customer service has increased sales volume through the speed and accuracy of not only products scanned but credit card processing at the point of check out, thus being able to serve more customers on a daily/seasonal basis. We also have the ability to inform customers of future shipments of products they may be requesting.
Inventory controls have allowed us a more efficient process of ordering product, thus increasing product turns and decreasing shrinkage and waste. Being able to track and create historic sales for specific products has assisted in more profitable purchasing practices. We also have the capability to set an alert that lets us know when a given item is at the re-order point and lets us utilize the open-to-buy system. Taking inventory is one of the most time-consuming and labor-intensive tasks we face every year, yet it is so crucial. Having too much stock or not enough is costly. With that said, though having a POS system to track inventory doesn’t substitute for a physical inventory count, we have found we are reducing how often we conduct this time-consuming task. When we purchased our second system, we also bought a wireless portable scanner to greatly reduce our footsteps, saving us hours.
We have the capability of monitoring sales on a daily and hourly basis, giving us information necessary for more efficient scheduling of staff for customer service and budgeting labor dollars.
The information stored on our POS system has proven to be limitless in many ways. Monitoring our customer buying habits allows us to develop a mailing list that may be used for direct marketing of products and services related to their specific lifestyles. We also are moving forward on making both gift cards and loyalty programs available to be found on our soon-to-be-completed Web site. They will be monitored by the POS system. This information will be vital in getting our customers to revisit us several times a year.
Our POS system allows us to generate pricing tags and labels with our bar code, as well as creating point-of-purchase signage.
We have come to learn that our POS system has been an extremely important and vital tool to the continual success of our business. It is, however, a work in progress, and service and support of your system are as important as the system itself. It should also be understood that full dedication and commitment to the implementation of such a system must be thoroughly understood by all staff, for the accuracy of all information entered is critical and necessary.