Should You Change Your Point Of Sale Software Or Change Your Workflow?

Cashier taking payment

Too often, people on the front lines of a retail store don’t understand the ripple effects caused when they cut corners with entering data in the point of sale software

Let’s say a customer brings an item to the register, and it doesn’t have an item number on it. The cashier has a choice: enter a price and ring it up as a miscellaneous item, or take a little time to find the item number and ring it in correctly. When entering a miscellaneous item, the cashier could enter the wrong price, or fail to charge tax on a taxable item. Too many of these transactions eventually undermine the workflows and processes downstream, causing accounting and inventory problems.

 One way to solve these kinds of problems is to modify your point of sale software to force certain behaviors. More often, good workflows come down to training and managing people properly. 

Retailers often try to solve problems by making software changes, but making a system change instead of a workflow change may create confusing, unsupportable software systems. 

For example, if you want to make sure that cashiers capture customer data during the sale, you could put controls in place so that the cashier can’t complete the transaction without entering customer information. Since some customers won’t want to provide that information, the system would also need an “escape route” for the cashier so that they could finish the sale. Now you have another problem: How do you prevent cashiers from using the escape route any time they don’t feel like asking for customer information? 

Holding front-line employees accountable often requires more than just a software change. It requires good management, such as offering rewards and incentives to cashiers who gather and update a lot of customer data in the point of sale software. Incentives might include tangible rewards, such as gift cards or bonuses, but public acknowledgment and praise is also effective. 

In this example, a combination of system requirements, proper training, rewards and accountability might be the way to go. If you’re able to show cashiers that what they enter in the point of sale software affects other people down the line, they may be more careful. When they understand the reasons for entering correct item numbers or customer data, it’s no longer just another arbitrary order. 

A good software vendor should always weigh the options for each situation before making a recommendation on how to solve the issues. The best solution may be a combination of changes in workflow, software and training. 

Good retail POS systems allow you to adjust workflow and require users to complete certain tasks and override other steps, depending on what’s appropriate for your business needs and personnel capabilities. You shouldn’t have to put in a new system every time your needs change. The key is to find a system that’s configurable and flexible enough to adapt to your business, and a vendor that’s prepared to help you make those changes, because your business needs are going to evolve over time. 

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