Modern point-of-sale (POS) systems have made contactless and mobile payments possible, as well as making it easier to chart sales trends, track profits, log customer information, control inventories, manage pay roll and deal with suppliers.
RetailBiz spoke to Craig and Darren Cookesley, the brothers behind POS solution Solemate Software, about why implementing a decent system is so important and the boost it can give a business.
Craig Cookesley said a good POS system can save retailers money, as it leads to better stock visibility and purchasing power.
“Ideally a retailer should be seeing return-on-investment (ROI) through better margins,” he said. “Retailers need visibility so they are not operating blind. This will enable them to reduce stock holds.
“Cash control is also important. With Solemate, every dollar is accounted for, and the software seamlessly integrates with retailers’ accounting programs.”
POS for stock control
Solemate specialises in solutions for footwear and fashion retailers, and stock control is an important part of its unique offering. The system provides real-time data across multiple store locations, which means retailers have a clear view of their business, down to the availability of a certain product size or colour.
“We’re experts in stock control,” said Cookesley. “Anything with a colour and size component is our expertise. Someone can walk into a store asking for a certain product and you can look it up by colour and size and see if it’s in stock, in transit, etc.”
Solemate specialises in solutions for footwear and fashion retailers.
This reporting capability led Andrew Burns, director of footwear chain Suna Shoes, to switch to Solemate 10 years ago. Suna Shoes has seven bricks-and-mortar locations across Queensland and an online store, and Burns said Solemate helps the company keep track of what’s selling and what’s not.
“We went to Solemate because of their reporting, it was more thorough than what we were using,” he said. “It’s good to know things like what stock everyone is holding, what stock has sold within each of those locations, when we last received stock, when the last delivery was… Being able to see that on one spreadsheet was really powerful.”
Burns said having this overview of all locations has been an asset. “It has certainly helped throughout the season. We’re finishing the season quite clean because we can move stock around—with the click of a mouse we can drag one item to another store.”
Focus on the margins
Along with stock control, Solemate also gives retailers a clear view of their margins, which Cookesley said is something successful retailers focus on.
“Good retailers know exactly what margin they’re getting and they’re always monitoring ROI and net profits through their software.
“Those who don’t use the software properly only look at sales figures, but the main concern is knowing your margin. If the margin is gone you’re not making enough profit to pay the bills.”
Having a POS system that tracks product margins allows retailers to be smart when reordering or purchasing new stock based on past sales trends. Solemate provides in-depth ROI reporting by product style and brand, right down to size and colour. It also provides valuation reporting by style, season, store, supplier and department—all valuable information for retailers making purchasing decisions.
“If you buy 12 pairs of shoes, it’s not the profit on the first pair but the last pair that tells you how that shoe went. You might have sold eight pairs but if you have to sell the last four at half-price, this means the margin drops.
“Solemate will highlight this—it will show that you have had to discount to get rid of them. You might have sold them, but you’ve sold them at a loss.”
Personalised software solution
Solemate caters to a range of clients from single location retailers to 50 store chains. Rather than offering a one size fits all solution, the company writes software for its clients.
“Different retailers have different needs, so we write software depending on what they want,” said Cookseley.
For a small business like Suna Shoes, which is not in a position to build its own platform, this personalisation is very important. As is the Solemate commitment to customer service, which includes 24/7 phone support and on-site installation and training anywhere in Australia.
This was one of the reasons Burns chose Solemate as Suna Shoes’ POS solution.
“Craig came up from Melbourne and rolled us over [from a previous system] with very little headache. He made it as smooth as possible and went around to all our stores—he even flew to Cairns—and helped up set up,” said Burns.
Building loyalty with POS
Since starting his first POS business in 1991, Cookesley said he has seen changes in the way retailers build customer loyalty, with personalisation becoming more important.
“The biggest change is in customer loyalty and building loyalty by seeing what people are buying,” he said. “We have built different rewards systems over the years—point-based, gift vouchers, product based, etc.—and it is now about linking that data with their website, so if a customer buys online you see the same customer information in-store.”
Solemate tracks customer spend to create a history of each shopper, which retailers can use to accurately target shoppers based on past behaviour. For example, if a retailer knows a customer likes a specific brand, they can send a targeted email blast when a new range is available.
“It’s always easier to get money out of an existing client than a new client. The ideas is if people feel they are getting good service and are being rewarded for spending their money in a certain store, they’re more likely to go there again. Stores understand this.”
Darren Cookesley said the combination of e-commerce and in-store shopping is a big focus for Solemate, as retailers need to see the entire picture—both on and off line—when it comes their business.
“The big push now is e-commerce. Every retailer we pick up has a website so we have API for Shopify, Magento etc. If you have a wholesaler that also runs a retail business through a website, we can work with that. You put one product in one system and it flows through.”
The company is also working on introducing buy now, pay later integrations in response to demand from customers for this service.
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