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Updated Apr 11, 2024

POS Reports Your Retail Business Should Be Using

Point-of-sale systems offer ways to increase sales and streamline waste.

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Donna Fuscaldo, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
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Table of Contents

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Many successful retail stores still use old, bare-bones checkout systems. Although 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 feature-rich 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.

Editor’s note: Looking for the right POS system for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs. 

What is a POS report?

A POS report is generated through the data collected during each sale you make. At a minimum, the data tracked by a POS system will include transaction totals and items purchased during each transaction. 

However, POS reports can also provide valuable insights to businesses. For instance, POS systems can generate a report for each employee’s transactions. This helps managers instantly access sales figures to calculate who is making the most sales. POS reports can also compare figures by location. For instance, if you’re a franchise owner and note that one store is not performing well, you can troubleshoot the issue early on by relying on the POS report data. 

Bottom LineBottom line
A POS system does much more than accept payments at the point of sale; it can give you a ton of actionable information through reporting tools.

8 types of POS retail reports 

POS reporting can be very basic or extremely robust, but the best POS systems offer the following types of reports. 

1. Sales reports

Sales reports are vital for retailers. A sales report gives you a summary of sales activities for the day, week, month or a specified period. It typically tells you the volume of sales, type of products sold, new customers you added and your costs. All POS systems and accounting software generate sales reports that you can format in various ways. In our QuickBooks review, we found that the software’s sales reports show sales by customer, sales shipped to a specific address, and pending sales, among other data. 

Quickbooks sales reports

Sales reports are important to ensure your business is performing. They are easy to run daily or weekly with a POS system. Source: QuickBooks

2. Employee reports

Employee reports are also vital for retail businesses that must balance staffing with demand. These reports can help you determine which employees are selling and which aren’t, so you can put your top sales clerks on the floor during busy periods to maximize sales. You can also use employee reports to calculate commissions and bonuses. 

3. Inventory reports

Inventory reports are extremely important for retailers so they aren’t stuck with excess inventory of slow-selling products and insufficient stock of popular ones. The POS inventory reports enable you to track your inventory to determine which products, colors and sizes are selling and which aren’t. You can set alerts when inventory falls below a certain threshold. 

TipBottom line
Run an inventory report in your POS system to spot sales trends and avoid overstocking on products you can’t sell.

4. Store sales report

Most POS systems allow you to view sales data in real time and run reports on past sales to spot trends and patterns. You can view store sales based on dates, times and even hours, which can help you make better staffing, inventory and store hours decisions. With many POS systems, you can also run individual sales reports on specific employees to identify who needs some help and to more easily reward your top earners.  

Square sales reports

Store sales reports can tell you which locations are doing well and which ones are performing poorly. Source: Square

5. Itemized cost and profit analysis report

Identifying top sellers is easy, even without specific reporting software, but the items that sell in the largest quantities 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 store owners adjust costs and prices or locate new suppliers as needed.

6. Inventory management reports

Choosing the best retail POS systems for your business makes inventory management a breeze. Inventory management reports allow you to track stock based on SKUs (stock keeping units), 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.

Lightspeed inventory reports

Inventory reports are vital to ensure you don’t overstock slow-selling items and run out of hot ones. Source: Lightspeed

7. Customer reports

Customer reports allow you to view valuable customer data, such as contact information, order and reservation history, and loyalty program details. Customer reports can be a valuable tool for earning repeat customers and maximizing sales, since they allow you to send out personalized marketing emails and reward customers for their loyalty or special occasions. 

8. 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 sales at different hours or times of the year.

Comparisons 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 of reports 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.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway
Don’t get overwhelmed by all of the POS reports you can run. Focus on the ones that matter most to you, and forget the rest.

Retail reporting best practices

To get the most accurate and helpful POS reports, follow these best practices. 

Consolidate sales from all channels.

If you sell via multiple channels — such as online, at a brick-and-mortar store and through a pop-up shop — make sure that all of your sales data from each channel is going to one central location. However, it is important for each sale to be tagged with the sales channel used. This will allow you to evaluate each sales channel to see which ones are underperforming or successful. Having all of your sales data in one place will let you identify trends, inform product buying, and improve your marketing and promotion strategy.

Tie your sales to your inventory system.

The best POS systems for retailers include an inventory management module. When your POS software automatically updates your inventory system, it saves you a lot of time. It also allows your business to be agile by reordering the fastest-selling items and phasing out unpopular products. Staying on top of your inventory also helps you avoid selling out of the products customers want.

Look at reports from different perspectives.

A general sales report will show you how much you have sold of each product in a specific time period, which is necessary from a big-picture perspective. However, it can also be helpful to look at sales through other lenses. For example, you can output reports by location if you have multiple establishments or by employee within locations. 

You also may want to look at sales by customer or customer stage (new vs. existing or by time as a customer). This can give you insights about your most valuable locations, employees and customers and inform decisions about where to concentrate money and effort in the future.

Delve into customer data.

If you look at specifically who is buying your products, you might be surprised. You may find that just a handful of customers account for the bulk of your sales, that certain customers typically purchase your most profitable products or that the customers buying the most are not the ones you have been actively targeting. This information can help you create loyalty programs, retarget your marketing and boost sales by offering personalized offers.

Generate and review reports regularly.

Depending on the volatility and seasonality of your business, you will want to generate sales reports at least quarterly, but possibly weekly and monthly as well. At the end of your busiest season, run a report for that period and for the entire year so you can plan your inventory purchases for the following year and assess how well your marketing strategy worked. Review your reports with your marketing, purchasing, sales and merchandising teams to get feedback and give them ideas of how to improve results in the future. 

What are the best POS systems to generate reports? 

A handful of POS vendors stand out for generating reports. They provide robust reporting on sales, inventory and more, and don’t charge extra for it. These reports can be customized, and they are automated and easy to run, saving you precious time. While all of our best POS systems for retailers offer reporting capabilities, some excel more in that area, including Square, Epos Now and TouchBistro. 

  • Square: Our Square review shows that this vendor offers all of the reporting tools you’ll need to run your business and make informed decisions. With Square’s reporting tools, you can get information about sales based on locations, employees and items, as well as run reports on customers, inventory and employees. Square’s Dashboard app lets you track your sales on a mobile device.
  • Epos Now: When conducting our EposNow review, we found that, in addition to offering robust reporting tools, Epos Now prides itself on enabling you to run reports on what matters most to your business and bottom line. For example, you can get detailed reports on promotions versus gross margins and stock alerts compared with sell-through.
  • TouchBistro: In our review of TouchBistro, we found that it is another POS vendor that focuses on offering reporting tools and functionality specifically for restaurants. This POS system provides customers with more than 50 different reports they can run on their restaurant, including sales, customer preferences and much more. 

Jennifer Dublino contributed to this article. 

author image
Donna Fuscaldo, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Donna Fuscaldo, who has 25 years of experience navigating the convergence of business, finance, and technology, is a trusted advisor to small business owners. Her expertise in business borrowing, funding, and investment strategies equips her to provide reliable counsel on everything from business loans to accounting and retirement benefits. Her analysis has graced publications like The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires, Bankrate, Investopedia, Motley Fool, Fox Business and AARP, solidifying her authority in the field. Beyond her contributions to the financial landscape, Fuscaldo also lends her wisdom on employment matters, with her expertise sought after by platforms like Glassdoor and others. Armed with a bachelor's degree in communication arts and journalism, Fuscaldo has the unique ability to simplify complex business and career-related topics into actionable insights. This makes her a valuable resource for professionals seeking practical solutions in today's dynamic business environment.
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