It is important to constantly update your retail tools. Those tools provide a lot of non-verbal cues to your customers. Having a store that uses retail tools from a hundred years ago may be an intentional way of telegraphing your rich history and connection to the past. Or it might be inadvertently announcing the fact that you are unimaginative and refuse to keep up with the times.
One way or another, the tools you use send a message. Just make sure it is the right one. For a long time, Apple sent the wrong message with their POS system by using old Windows Mobile devices in their retail stores. It suggested that their own devices were insufficient to conduct business in a retail setting. Now, they have reversed the situation and taken control of their message. Tablets and handhelds are excellent tools for today’s retail environment. Here’s why:
A tablet plus cash drawer makes for a better cash register than a typical cash register. One of the biggest reasons for this is flexibility. You can buy a professionally assembled iPad POS system with all the bells and whistles. For retail, these systems can be tailored for:
- Inventory control
- Purchase Order Generation
For quick service restaurants:
- Custom menses
- Infinite modifiers
- Delivery management
An iPad POS is not some 200-year-old, giant calculator with 74 buttons that do only one thing. It can be whatever system you need it to be. But flexibility does not just stop at key layouts and backend management systems.
These tablet-based systems are highly portable. It takes practically no effort to move them from a retail floor to a trade show booth. Want to make your kid’s lemon aid stand project a real hit? An iPad POS will make hers the only lemon aid stand that takes plastic as easy as cash. POS is one of the best uses for tablets in retail.
Backend management encompasses all the parts of the business not visible by the customer in the retail area. Some parts of the process are best done sitting at a desk with a keyboard and monitor. Other parts, like inventory, are better suited for something more mobile. A tablet can handle both types with ease.
While some of the best inventory management apps are iPad only, others are iPhone and Android. You might find a handheld more suited to this task. An iPad mini might also fit the bill. Once you’re done with the Inventory, you can use a Bluetooth keyboard to work on your spreadsheet and payroll. There are no management tasks out of reach for a tablet. From the stockroom to the back office, a tablet is the right tool for just about any job.
There is plenty of documentation associated with POS. With an iPad POS system, you can start a mailing list at checkout by capturing basic contact information. If a person tends to buy a certain sized screw, you can look it up by their sales history. This is exactly the kind of documentation handling you would expect from a computing device.
But there is also the ability to scan, sign, and fax from a tablet that turns it into a complete, document management system. There is no better way to capture real signatures electronically than with the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. Though, your finger works on any modern tablet.
There are a plethora of apps that allow you to create and markup documents. The documents you make can be can be exported to PDF and sent to a copier or printer. You can customize documentation for your particular business to include inventory lists, price sheets, time cards, shift management, payroll, etc…
There is no such thing as one device that is perfect for every situation. But in the retail environment with needs such as point of sale, backend management, and document management, a tablet is just about the single most useful device you can own.