Big data has become a driving force across every industry segment operating in the modern economy. Anyone managing an operation in the highly competitive convenience store and gas station retail sphere can attest to how important it is to have access to relevant information in order to make effective business decisions and meet the needs of customers. As the importance of data and analytics has grown, so too have the capabilities of POS software systems and store automation tools, arguably the most important piece of equipment within a retail operation’s four walls.
POS Software That Helps You Make Data-Driven Decisions
While you might utilize POS software that maintains sales data for your weekly reconciliation, you have to ask yourself if your system truly meets the needs of your operation. Let’s take a deep dive into how an effective, data-focused point of sale software solution can impact your convenience store or gas station for the better.
Pricing and Sales Accuracy
At the foundational level, an effective gas station POS must be able to handle the sales transaction process. This requires an easily manageable electronic price book, built from an accurate recording of all items in your store, which can quickly be updated for pricing. Once established, all sales rung up through the POS will match to the existing database, and remove much of the element of human error from the sales process, increasing the accuracy of your sales figures for reporting purposes.
Inventory Integrated with POS Software
Accurate pricing and sales data is a prerequisite to establishing effective inventory management procedures. Gas station inventory and convenience store inventory solutions can be integrated with POS software in order to help manage inventory across the four lines of business most common in this segment of the retail industry.
Retail Inventory Management
With more than 153,000 stores operating in the United States, accounting for roughly $650 billion in annual sales, the convenience store industry is highly competitive. With the emphasis on convenience, it’s vital for convenience stores and gas stations to instill trust in the customer by ensuring sufficient inventory of the items they’ve come to your store to buy. With real-time sales data tracking and automated inventory tracking, POS systems can connect with back-office software solutions designed to manage the ordering process with vendors, seamlessly ensuring all of your key products are in stock at all times. This also allows retail operators to assess product sales performance and make informed decisions as to the types of products they can safely stop carrying without impacting their business, thus streamlining the retail experience for customers. Stock management is so important, that 80% of POS platform purchasers identify inventory management as the primary driver. This is an especially useful practice for convenience stores who have embraced the fresh-food trend that is driving sales growth across the industry, where short shelf-lives and high potential waste can dig into the already narrow profit margins.
Fuel Inventory Management
Of the more than 153,000 convenience stores operating in the United States, more than 121,000 also sell fuel. Fuel inventory procedures are complicated and are governed by a number of federal and state reporting requirements. Fuel inventory management systems can tie directly into POS systems to track sales, taxes, and surcharges. This information can then be returned to the back of house management software. Sales data can also be used by automated ordering systems to track fuel sales and coordinate deliveries with vendors to best meet fuel demand.
Lottery Inventory Management
Half of lottery ticket sales in the United States originate in convenience stores and gas stations. This can be a very profitable revenue stream for your operation, with a margin on par with fuel sales but requiring less overhead infrastructure to manage. That said, lottery ticket sales are huge source of potential loss and require extensive reporting and oversight. Integrating a lottery ticket management software solution into your point of sale system automates much of the tracking, and generates the necessary data to make informed decisions on the types of games you should carry.
Tobacco Rebate Programs Integrated in POS Software
With tobacco sales accounting for 34% of in-store sales in convenience stores and gas stations, a massive volume of tobacco flows through the POS systems in this industry segment. Integration of a software solution built around automatically managing and reporting on tobacco sales can create an uninterrupted rebate revenue stream for your operation, allowing you to focus on creating promotions and executing marketing events in order to drive tobacco sales.
Customer Loyalty Programs, CRM, & Marketing Promotions
Information gathered through the POS system becomes the foundation for highly effective loyalty programs and a driver behind marketing promotions. With every transaction flowing through your POS, tying your gas station POS or convenience store POS to your customer relationship management (CRM) system allows you to build a rewards program that can provide aggregate data showing your customers’ behaviors and help to tailor future promotions.
How important is this tie in with data? A 2016 study revealed that loyalty programs are hugely influential to consumers when selecting a convenience store. In every generation, loyalty programs resonated with over 40% of respondents, with 59% of Millennials pointing to loyalty programs as a factor. Similarly, another study of foot traffic from 2018 highlighted that four of the top five brands in foot traffic had strong loyalty programs and mobile applications that strengthened in-store promotions efforts. The ability to track and respond to customer behaviors with relevant offers and marketing, in fact, is important to 91% of consumers, according to an Accenture study.
Integrating labor management functionality into the POS system allows employers to automate or streamline many payroll and human resource functions. Employees can clock in and out through the POS system, allowing their hours to be tracked and loaded into the back of the house management software solution for weekly payroll reconciliation. Further, sales data relative to the volume of sales and the volume of transactions throughout the day can be used to develop a scheduling strategy to ensure you have enough staff onsite to handle customer needs.
Improved Customer Service KPIs
There’s no arguing that during busy points in the day, the ability to ring up more customers will lead to higher sales. However, your POS system needs to not only speed up the transaction process but do so in a way that it still captures key data. Many convenience stores and gas station POS systems are seeking customer feedback at the point of purchase on a touch screen as part of the transaction process. Others ask customers to enter unique identifying information tied to either a mobile application or loyalty program, where feedback on the visit can be solicited outside of the transaction process at a later time. POS systems have also been streamlined to put control of the payment process largely into the hands of the customer, putting the speed of service squarely into the hands of the customer.
All of these elements together give owners actionable insight into the customer experience and where to focus future improvements and employee development, as well as any changes to service or product offerings that might need to be made.
In an age where more and more companies are being hit by debilitating security breaches, it’s vital that your POS system is compliant with PCI-DSS requirements and built around maintaining the integrity of customer data. Beyond the client, POS systems act as a theft deterrent with employees and reduce the costs of loss and waste.
Financial Reporting and Improved Business Acumen
All of these channels of information come together to form a dataset that helps inform managers and owners as to the overall health of their operation. From the information captured by the POS system in conjunction with other software components, operators can quickly access revenue and profit, as well as calculate the cost of goods and dig deeper into the demographics of their client base. They can quickly assess the impact of marketing and promotional efforts, as well as identify trends for future marketing initiatives. As this data becomes easier to access and managers learn to navigate the information accessible through POS reporting, their ability to manage the overall operation will improve, and they will start making more effective leadership decisions.
As more gas station POS and convenience store POS systems become cloud-based, owners and operators can access this information remotely, allowing business decisions to be made in a more timely fashion, and overall improve the customer service experience.
Choose An All-Inclusive POS Software Solution
We’ve covered a lot of ground, but what it all boils down to is that no matter what software solutions you might want to integrate on the back end through an effective back-office management solution, a powerful and versatile POS system is the key to it all. Here at Success Systems, we understand that your gas station or convenience store’s POS must be the eyes, ears, and recordkeeper for everything that happens in your store. To learn more about our automation solutions and how to build an amazing retail experience around your POS system, contact our team of experts today.