Centralized Point of Sale Management – Five Reasons Why Now is the Time for Transformation
POS technologies are undergoing a rapid transformation. After decades of incremental improvements to POS systems, mobile, wireless, cloud, and emerging payment methods like mobile apps, PayPal and NFC are causing major shifts in retail POS strategies. These shifts are changing the fundamental relationship and interactions between consumers and retailers.
As retailers strive to move closer to their customers and gain a 360-degree view of each customer, data becomes even more essential. POS and payment systems are still an important resource for gathering data – they tell a retailer who is buying what, at what location (off line or online), preferences, history and even when purchases are made.
The industry is getting savvier with Big Data too; it’s now possible to tie payments and loyalty data to social data and information that consumers provide in exchange for customized benefits or promotions, creating a more robust 360 degree picture. All this combined – the data, the personalization and the customized experience can drive repeat purchases and loyalty at a time when retailers need it most.
So culling data from these systems is key. But the problem we have today is that a lot of retailers still have decentralized POS systems (i.e., multiple locations with their own standalone POS systems, or systems not fully integrated with headquarters, separate mobile and stationary POS systems). This makes collecting and analyzing data much more difficult and hinders a retailer’s ability to turn this POS transformation to their advantage.
There’s never been a better time for an upgrade your retail POS infrastructure. All the elements exist to create one centrally managed system that can support the retail vision of the future – engaging the connected consumer. And, the industry has embraced end-to-end integration which means that future-proofing your POS investment has never been easier. Here are the top five reasons why now is the best time to take advantage of this POS transformation.
1. Money spent today creates a foundation for the Big Data you need tomorrow.
With a centralized POS system, retailers get a property-level POS station(s) at each location that links to a central server. These linked systems provide corporate offices with real-time reports on customer buying habits, labor and inventory management, company-wide costs and online product orders. They also provide insight into valuable customer purchasing and preference information that can be used to enhance the overall shopper experience through tailored loyalty programs.
As consumers demand more context-aware, personalized offers, product suggestions and promotions, the data to consider, let alone drive these campaigns, needs to improve. By centralizing data at this level, you start building the basis for the data you need to compete.
2. Consumers shop in real time – retail interactions need to be real-time too.
Even though most POS systems gather data fairly effectively, retailers struggle to turn transactional data into actionable information fast enough to impact shopper decisions. One reason is that poor connectivity and information flow among individual stores and host systems can hinder stores from providing accurate, real-time data to corporate headquarters.
But even with optimal data sharing, traditional databases use data warehousing techniques that create summarized silos of huge volumes of data that obscure the true picture. Batch processing and spreadsheet-based analytics are also major impediments. Retail decision-makers are rarely at their desks, and typically don’t have access to the dashboards, metrics, and reports they need to make smarter, faster decisions in a decentralized environment.
New in-memory processing techniques, such as what we have in the SAP HANA® platform, enable sub-second roll-ups and fast analysis of huge data volumes. This helps merchandising, marketing, and operations managers slice and dice billions of transactional records. Prebuilt views, optimized for both Web and mobile users, enable the entire organization to analyze centralized POS data quickly – right when it’s needed.
3. Maintaining compliance just became a whole lot easier.
A centralized POS system allows retailers to more easily facilitate compliance with tax regulations and established standards across all locations globally. There’s no more wondering which system is up to date and certified compliant with PCI Data Security Standards, Sarbanes-Oxley, or other regulations.
For added protection against the potential for fraud and theft, consider integrating a loss prevention package that can trace fraudulent transactions by detecting patterns of irregular POS activity. With a centralized system retailers can get a singular daily audit log of all transactions that take place on each point-of-sale device, eliminating the need to integrate and analyze data from multiple systems. Adding to the security, access through one centralized system is maintained by permissions and role-based security, further strengthening critical financial oversight across global locations.
4. Cut capital expenditures by supporting a wide range of hardware and accessories.
In retail, connectivity is key. Most hardware providers have embraced the desire for retailers to extend their networked systems far and wide – leading to more standardized equipment and easier integration. This is also the case with centralized POS systems – hardware and maintenance costs can be minimized because a wide range of peripherals can be connected very quickly. There’s no more getting locked into specific contracts or brands when new functions are needed.
Using one platform that is also compatible with multiple operating systems and server environments allows retailers to make future changes to accommodate consumer demand for different retail channels, and multiple types of payments. Whatever the customer demands, now or in the future, can be accommodated. And when a retailer is ready to deploy mobile payments, each location can more easily do so through central configuration and automated software distribution.
5. Your store is the corner stone of a great Omni Channel Experience.
Consumers can purchase products anytime, anywhere and on any device. Yet, why is the store still so important? Most purchases, regardless of where they start, happen in the store and consumers have an enduring need to satisfy all their senses. The store has a clear monopoly to engage and satisfy them. And in today’s realities, chances are good that when your customers enter your store, they’ve done plenty of product research and your store associates need to be ready to serve them.
With a centralized POS system you have the ability to integrate your web channel, your call center and of course your store. Consumers demand that no matter which one of your channels they interact with, they want the same great experience every time. Even buying in one channel and paying in another channel has to be seamless and painless for all involved. As well, any product information available online has to be available at the store. This creates a great buying experience for your customer and it promotes the brand you have worked so hard to build.
There are many more reasons to centralize POS systems and management including corporate and store-level monitoring and reporting, information management and analytics. But with improvements in integration, data processing speed, compliance and connectivity, now is the best time to evaluate your existing POS infrastructure and create a new growth plan that supports your customers of today and tomorrow.
As the market leader in enterprise application software, SAP helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable more than 253,500 customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably. Click here to find out more about SAP Retail Solutions.
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