Suppose a customer calls your store and asks if you have “xyz widget.” You know that you carry the item, and that you had five the last time you looked, but you have been away for the last two days. You put the customer on hold and go to the shelf where the item should be. There are none, so you decide to take a quick look in the rear storeroom. When you get back to the phone the customer has hung up, costing you a sale. Luckily, there is a better way.

A customer asks if you have “xyz widget.” You step over to the computer associated with your point of sale, or POS, system, enter a look up code and the results are displayed instantly. Yes, you have it. In fact, you have it in two different colors and four different sizes. It is also available in another color at another branch of your store. There are five colors altogether, and you can special order one if the customer desires. The customer says he is on his way down, asks you to hold the big red one and thanks you for the great customer service.

Point of sale systems are commonly used by large grocery and clothing stores and by a variety of other businesses. A POS system is basically a computer with POS software, a cash register and a scanner. Inventory items are entered into the computer with the appropriate UPC code, the price and other descriptive information. At the cash register, the item is scanned and the description and price are instantly displayed on the register and customer monitors. The system automatically deducts the item from inventory.

Inventory management through a POS system takes the guesswork out of what and how much is in stock, what is on order, how much has sold and many other questions essential to keeping your business competitive.

Ordering is simplified and improved, because a POS inventory system helps keep track of when an item should be ordered to keep it in stock. It also helps analyze when a specific item sells best or poorly, how many specialty items were purchased and sold during the holiday last year, what the average monthly sales of an item are and so on. Full end-of-year manual counts are reduced or eliminated altogether. Spot checking is often all that is necessary, because the system is constantly keeping the inventory straight.

A POS system with an effective inventory component reduces or eliminates costs and efforts associated with manual inventories, helps keep customers happier by providing rapid and accurate responses to inventory questions, increases potential sales by never running out of best sellers and helps you make sound inventory purchase decisions by analyzing sales trends.