Keith Bateman discusses how garden centres can get more out of their electronic point of sale and retail management solutions.
Across the UK, many independent garden centres have an electronic point-of-sale and retail management solution in place. When properly implemented and used, these can generate a lot of income, over and above the initial outlay that might be required to acquire them.
In our experience, EPoS provides greater control across your business. It increases sales, and saves both time and money, thereby improving profitability. This is true whether you?re a single site, have multiple stores or are a large destination centre.
For some garden centres, the initial need satisfied by having EPoS lays in its ability to securely and efficiently handle customers? payments at the tills, thereby delivering great customer service and minimising the likelihoods of queues. Whilst the point-of sale is the customer-facing side of the solution, it can be used in a much more multifaceted way across the entire business.
For instance, as the till drawer closes for a particular customer transaction, the information that has been generated is instantly updated in the back office. This reflects changes for the customer, sales, margins and stock.
This real-time retail intelligence is the core function of any EPoS system, and can be used to help your entire team ? whether cashiers, customer service or marketing, to make timely and confident decisions using retail intelligence.
Staff training plays an important role when the solution is first implemented, as well as on an ongoing basis as features are introduced or when new recruits come on board.
Missing a trick
Most EPoS solutions provide the ability to manage promotions in-store ? while some also offer bounce back couponing. With many promotional tools available to cover products, ranges and seasonal needs, these can all be easily tracked to monitor effectiveness in increasing sales or footfall.
Bounce back couponing is a useful tool to encourage cross sales between the garden centre and cafe. It is triggered at the till by the spend value, the purchase of particular items, or the presence of loyalty scheme members.
You decide when the coupon can be redeemed in order to encourage repeat visits during off-peak days, months or seasons. Many EPoS solutions can also help you organise events, such as Santa?s Grotto, tours or demonstrations, to handle tickets and ensure customers aren?t disappointed. Make sure you don?t miss out on this function when using your system.
Taking advantage of customer loyalty-related functions is another extremely effective way to help with gaining ROI from your solution. The ability to offer cards as well as voucher-based schemes delivers total flexibility. And, using the retail intelligence captured at the tills for each customer, you can personalise the loyalty rewards and communiqu?s in line with the customer?s particular interests or buying habits.
Points can be gained and redeemed as you wish. This approach significantly reduces the time, cost and wastage typically associated with mass marketing campaigns.
For back office operations, mobile devices combined with EPoS can play a key role by saving time and streamlining processes. The booking-in process can be dramatically reduced, ensuring stock is on the shop floor without delay ? something which is particularly important for plants, in order for them to look their very best.
Mobile devices are also useful for queue busting at peak times, as well as creating purchase orders, helping with price or stock queries, and in handling mark downs using label belt printers. Stock taking is transformed as well, with rolling stocktaking replacing the often onerous annual audit, involving numerous members of staff across several days.
Your EPoS and retail management should be at the very heart of your business operations, and it makes sense to consolidate your data to avoid duplication and the need to maintain parallel solutions.
From this central data hub, your other applications, such as your web store, warehousing and financial accounting, can share the information and customer details. It?s far easier as a multichannel solution to provide customers with the seamless and connected experience they increasingly expect.
Great working relationships
One last thing that needs to be borne in mind is to maintain a great working relationship with your EPoS provider from when you first install the solution, and going forward. In our experience, having ex-garden centre retailers as part of that team is invaluable in terms of the approach, advice and support provided.
Being able to take business advantage of new technologies is also important, whether that?s contactless chip and pin payments, or use of the cloud technology which has transformed how EPoS solutions can be delivered and maintained.
Previous technology required the retailer to bear the considerable cost, time and effort in having a back office server on which your EPoS solution ran. You were responsible for all of the backups, updates and troubleshooting at your site.
The cloud has removed this, as the EPoS partner now takes care of it with seamless overnight backups and software updates. With your data held securely in the cloud at a dedicated hosting provider, it?s protected 24/7 and delivers unrivalled freedom to access your data via the web, from wherever you are.