Many successful retail stores still use old, bare-bones checkout systems. While these work well enough for basic transactions, they don't offer much insight into how your business could be streamlined. Point-of-sale (POS) systems designed with retailers in mind are loaded with reporting functionality to increase sales and minimize waste.
If your retail establishment has recently transitioned from basic checkout to a state-of-the-art POS system, or if you're simply considering doing so, this guide can serve as an introduction to basic reports that many retailers find useful.
Store sales reports
Most retail POS systems allow remote managers to view real-time sales data, but past sales reports can also be helpful. The ability to view retail sales reports by date ranges as well as times, down to the hour, can help you compare your business's success during various times of the day, week, month and year.
Information that you sell very little stock between 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., for example, might cause you to cut back on staff in the mornings, whereas finding out your establishment triples its sales during November and December might inspire you to hire some additional temporary sales associates for those months.
Individual sales reports and sales targets
General sales reports are intended to track your establishment's overall business, but retail POS software often includes the option for sales targets based on time and employee. The ability to assign sales targets and then track results is especially helpful for retail establishments that operate with commission-based staff. Different staff members are frequently given different sales goals, based on seniority as well as experience, and keeping track of commissions is easy with a POS system that tracks targets as well as individual sales reports.
Even if your employees are hourly and not on commission, individual sales reports can still be helpful. Finding out who your No. 1 seller is can help you issue bonuses more fairly, and identifying weak associates gives you the opportunity to supply them with additional training or cut them loose.
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Itemized cost and profit analysis
Identifying top sellers is easy, even without specific reporting software, but items that sell in the largest quantity aren't necessarily the ones netting you the most profits. POS retail reports break down sales in terms of the itemized cost for you, retail markup percentage or amount, and profit.
Having this information laid out in a readable format makes it much less labor-intensive to find the dead weight in your inventory and identify major moneymakers that may have flown under the radar. These types of reports can also help retail owners adjust costs and prices or locate new suppliers as needed.
Inventory management reports
Retail POS systems make inventory management a breeze. Inventory management reports allow you to track stock based on SKUs, even across multiple locations. Inventory management isn't just for maintaining existing inventory but also for tracking quality. In a good inventory management system, you can see how many damaged goods you've received from different vendors, and how often you've had to send things back. Identifying low-quality suppliers is key to maintaining high retail standards.
Many systems also have automatic email options based on inventory numbers, so you can receive updates when highly desirable items are running low and reorder them immediately. The ability to look back at inventory ups and downs over the course of several months or a year makes it much easier to plan inventory and identify buying trends.
Store comparison reports
For small business owners who have multiple retail locations, reports that provide side-by-side comparisons are invaluable. You might find that one of your shops sells more of a certain type of product than the other, or that each shop experiences peak selling at different hours or times of year.
Comparisons can also help you see the differences in your staff at various locations and identify weaknesses and strengths on your sales team. You might find, for example, that the top three sellers at one branch outsell the top three at your other branch by double. If that's the case, you may want to pair your most gifted sales associates with others who show promise but need improvement.
Naturally, the type of retail establishment you own will determine the role reports play in your business. A women's fashion boutique will have different patterns and tendencies than a used car dealership or a furniture store, and because of this inherent variation, many POS systems allow users to build highly customized reports.