Navigating the POS world

A technology guide for regular folks

Independent garden centers are successful for lots of reasons, including product selection, service excellence, effective marketing, beautiful facilities, and compelling events. Having a technology infrastructure to support your operations is, more and more, a critical element of a store’s success. Most IGCs were challenged on many levels last year by the COVID pandemic. Garden centers that previously focused on foot traffic and inventory turns found themselves navigating a whole new world of electronic shopping carts, socially distanced checkout stations and BOPIS (buy online, pickup in store).

Stores that have already embraced technical solutions before 2021 may have had a few extra tools in their kit to enable them to pivot effectively. Now that things are quieting down a little, it is a good time to consider whether your store needs a technology makeover to help you better manage your operations. The goal of this article is to give you a systematic way to approach a new POS solution for your store.

Putting bias on the table, I work for Rapid Garden POS and certainly my role at Rapid colors my point of view. But this article is intended to focus more on things that you should consider as you approach scouting and finding any POS system for your business. My approach for adding or updating your store system can be reduced to a catchy mnemonic:

I Really Do Care About Success!

  • Identify and Prioritize Your Needs/Goals
  • Research Available Solutions
  • Demo Solutions
  • Check References
  • Assess Costs and Return on Investment
  • Select and Implement Your Chosen System

I — Identify and Prioritize your Needs/Goals

Everyone comes to deciding to purchase or update their POS for different reasons. Meet with your team and come up with a list of things you want a system to do for you. These can come from specific pain points your store is experiencing (e.g., checking stock availability takes too much time), things you have heard about or experienced as a customer that other stores are doing (e.g., Starbucks sends me a coupon on my birthday), and things that would offer strategic benefits to the store (e.g., if we could better track and manage costs, I could have a more consistent margin on my sales). Focus on business tasks, problems, functions, or benefits. Don’t try to figure out how a technology solution might deal with the things you list.

Put your items into categories to help you prioritize them. I like the following breakdown:

Remember that at this phase, you are just brainstorming. There are no bad ideas here. You will circle back to this list again and again. I suggest that you revisit it during each of the following phases. This document will be your roadmap.

One last thing to remember about this phase (and this is very important) … YOU KNOW WHAT YOU KNOW, BUT YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW. Be open to input and new ideas.

We have covered the other points in similar detail, and you can access the full article using the following link or scanning the QR code: navigating-the-pos-world/

Deciding to add technology to your operation, and then going through a rigorous process to find the best fit, will help your store in the long run. It requires time and focus at the beginning, but that investment of effort at the outset will help ensure that you have a system that is best suited to support your business for many years to come.

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