There are dozens of online articles detailing the importance of POS systems for businesses. I’m not going to do a re-hash and give you X number of reasons to get one. The benefits of automation are pretty obvious. But, if you got business woes and can spare a couple of minutes, sit back and let me tell you a story.
When I was in high school, I got a summer job at my aunt and uncle’s deli. It was a good old mom and pop, and I loved it there. I was there for the experience more than anything, and of course, the few bucks I earned every week wasn’t a bad deal at all (no taxes!). It didn’t get me through college or anything like that, but I was able to save enough of it to buy my own stuff without having to ask money from my parents.
During my time there, I would always hear my aunt talking to my uncle about not having enough control over inventory and complaining about an employee she thinks is stealing, but can get no proof. I would also see some of the staff taking extended smoking breaks, some of them more than 20 minutes!
This really pissed me off, so I told them about it. They told me they would look into it, but I knew they wouldn’t do anything because they were afraid to lose an employee or get a lawsuit. I could see the stress on their faces day in and day out. Trying to keep the business afloat was taking a toll on them.
I wasn’t too young to realize that my aunt’s deli business was turning into a nightmare. The old cash register just wasn’t cutting it anymore.
A new Sherriff in Town
One Saturday morning, my uncle comes in through the front door carrying a big box with him and a wide smile plastered on his face. A friend of the family that owned a bunch of hardware stores loaned them a computer with a POS System installed. The box had a PC, a receipt printer and a credit card terminal.
After about a week of tinkering with their new (hand-me-down) POS terminal, my aunt and uncle were able to list down all inventories, assign control/stock numbers and simplify their accounting process. In the past, my aunt would hire an accountant that would sift through hundreds of receipts; I honestly can’t imagine if the reports were anywhere near accurate.
The POS System saved the Deli
The deli’s new POS system was able to generate reports based on daily, weekly and monthly sales. The system was also able to tell them which of the cold cuts were hot, and which weren’t selling at all. My aunt was able to look up past transactions to get a picture of how sales went that day and what product sold the most on any given day. Pastrami sold best on Wednesdays and pancetta on Sundays.
Because of the automated inventory management system, not a single item went missing again. Orders were processed faster and more accurately than ever before. Because of the new credit card terminal, the cashier didn’t have to phone the bank for authorization every time plastic was used for payment.
Back then, the old POS system would print out a purchase order when an item went below inventory. I was amazed at this, because the system was telling us to order more of that hot selling product so we don’t run out. Nowadays, I believe it’s even more automated and systems would automatically order for you.
When the new POS System was in place, I never saw anyone go on an extended break again. It had a built in time clock and employee management system that tracked each employee’s performance and attendance. Now, my aunt could finally weed out the bad apples from her staff; she had all the proof she needed.
It was a rocky start for my aunt, my uncle and the deli. From rogue employees to missing inventory, they had their share of clowns, downs and frowns that they almost closed shop. The POS system their friend loaned them literally saved the deli. Theft prevention, employee management, inventory monitoring and a more efficient store enabled them to grow as a business and as a family. I’m glad I was a part of that, even just for the summer.