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Pandemic Shifts Shine a Light on Importance of Modern Point of Sale

Did you know that point of sale systems date back to 1879 when the first one was invented by American shopkeeper James Ritty

Since then, POS systems have taken a dramatic shift in their capabilities. Recent advancements include front end and back end responsibilities merging with ease, cloud based efforts supporting both in-store and online purchases, and mobile becoming increasingly popular to manage POS.

But this only taps the surface of POS, barely shedding light on all that POS can offer retailers both large and small. Factor in the global pandemic and POS systems were challenged to become as sophisticated as they’ve ever been to keep up with both consumer expectations and retailers having to quickly adjust to sourcing challenges, contactless experiences, heightened shipping demands and more.

Keeping this in mind, what are some of the advantages retailers have when leveraging POS to support their businesses? Particularly since the pandemic.

Pandemic Challenges Resolved

Joe Kamara, a 14 plus year Sales Executive with Manhattan Associates, believes that “if you don’t have modern POS and customer order management platform, your ability to be resilient can be impacted significantly.”

This resilience was challenged firsthand by retailer Kendra Scott when its distribution center was forced to close at the beginning of the pandemic. Yet inventory demands continued to come through via online orders. Within seven days of recognizing the challenges presented by COVID and unexpected closures, Kendra Scott was able to leverage the resilience in their cloud native customer order management platform to fulfill online orders from stores fueled by Manhattan Associates. These adjustments delivered ease to their challenges and led them to continued selling opportunities despite a global pandemic.

With stores taking control of their inventory management, selling channels, distribution experiences and shipping, they also recognized that customers wanted to be in control, as well. This, as Kamara explains, is a key component to how the pandemic has changed retail and he describes it as “self-service commerce”.

From self-service checkouts at stores to curb-side pickup, to contact-less payments, retailers had to find  ways to let customers start (and finish) their shopping journeys however they wanted. Using mobile, for example, became increasingly popular. And the interest in virtual shopping mediums to showcase merchandise and ‘order on behalf of customer’ with secure pay by link are on the rise during COVID, as well,” explains Kamara.

Collectively, all of these efforts are now becoming normal expectations among customers. What were first presented as challenges to many merchants are now viewed as opportunities to these same retailers, and thus, this is where it gets exciting as we continue to look ahead at the evolution of POS.

Unified Commerce Platforms

POS and customer order management technologies have transformed how customers have shopped and likewise, how retailers can support them. Being able to have choices and pivot directions during a shopping journey (or a global pandemic), is a vital factor for customers and retailers alike, and as we continue to move ahead in our pandemic-centric economy, it’s critical to incorporate modern POS technologies to help keep the momentum of business thriving.

Operating unified systems, as Kamara explains, can achieve this. But this unity doesn’t come with just connecting every touchpoint in which a customer can shop: it also includes incorporating a 360 degree view of existing customer habits and historic purchases, as well. Additionally, being able to integrate into external technologies is absolutely important too. From payment providers such as Klarna and Apple Pay to integrating with shipment companies such as ShipStation or Shippo, the key is to be (you guessed it), unified.

This unity is what ultimately keeps customers and brands connected at every twist and turn they may take in their purchasing journey. Along the way, unexpected detours can be avoided by having integrated partners from external technologies, payments and platforms that easily merge into a unified POS and customer order management experience. It’s through these combined efforts that keep customers connected to brands, delivering to them both the customer satisfaction and convenience that they’ve come to expect.

As the evolution of POS continues during a pandemic effected economy, one thing has become clear. Customers are in the driver’s seat regarding how they want to shop.

It’s up to retailers to take control, however, and they can only do this by having sophisticated, modern POS and customer order management systems in place that support customers no matter where their shopping journey may take them.

Whether in-store, online, curbside, via mobile or even shopping via social media, ask yourself: is your store connected to deliver a unified experience through your POS in all the places your brand is represented? If not, you need to continue on your own evolution of POS and maybe Joe and the Manhattan Associates team could be the people to help do just that…

 

By Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, Founder of RetailMinded.com. 


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