Lightspeed CEO and founder Dax Dasilva discusses the POS industry and how POS systems are benefiting businesses.
Research from Capterra shows that companies in all industries and of all sizes are using point of sales (POS) systems. A POS system not only facilitates transactions in-store and online but can also serve as an inventory management, customer loyalty and reporting and analytics tool.
While retail businesses are most known for using POS systems, the study revealed that more than 60 percent of all POSs are used by non-retail businesses. This includes restaurants, health and medical facilities, hotels, and many others.
Additionally, it's not just large businesses seeing the value of POS systems. The Capterra study shows that 70 percent of the businesses surveyed that use POS systems have an annual revenue of less than $5 million.
Few know more about POS systems and how they benefit businesses than Dax Dasilva, CEO of the POS software provider Lightspeed. Dasilva founded Lightspeed in 2005. Since then, it has grown to serve more than 50,000 customers in more than 100 countries worldwide.
Business.com spoke with Dasilva about POS systems, the rise of mobile POS systems and where the industry is headed. Plus, we asked him some rapid-fire questions about technology, his career and advice he has received over the years.
Q: What are some ways that businesses could better leverage their POS systems?
A: POS systems are powerful tools for inventory management: knowing what to order and when, ensuring an adequate stock, and not over-ordering. Those are small moves that can really hurt a business if not managed properly.
Another underutilized feature is analytics. There is a lot that can be determined by assessing customer insights, employee performance, key sales times, etc. Understanding these insights helps business owners assess their business and make informed decisions.
Q: When shopping for a POS system, what are the most important features small businesses should look for?
A: The right POS system should have the ability to grow and scale with you and your business. You might be solely brick-and-mortar now, but what happens when you want e-commerce?
A system should accommodate all facets of the business and provide a seamless experience for your customers at each stage of development.
A: What are the benefits of a mobile POS system?
A: A mobile system allows you to meet your customers where they are. Store spaces are increasingly becoming more interactive, and sometimes, they are smaller. With a mobile system, business owners don't need a bulky and stagnant counter: They can bring the POS system to their customer, completing a transaction with ease and not disrupting the flow of the sale.
Mobile POS also benefits the business owner by providing them with access to their store insights and data 24/7 and from anywhere in the world. With a system like Lightspeed, the platform is cloud-based and won't limit access from remote locations outside of the store.
Q: Are there certain types of businesses that mobile POS systems are best suited for?
A: Interactive and customer-centric businesses, such as independent retailers and restaurants.
Q: How has technology impacted the way independent retailers conduct business?
A: Technology has evolved immensely, especially over the past decade. Tech keeps us connected, and customers now expect a 24/7 availability of products and retailers. Particularly, that the experience should be seamless at every touchpoint – in-person and via technology.
This is where omnichannel comes into play. Businesses that utilize omnichannel technology have the power to streamline that experience and maintain consistent customer approach.
Social media has also evolved to be a powerful connecting tool, and we see businesses becoming more savvy with the use of these digital communications.
Q: Is there any new technology on the horizon that you see changing the landscape of how retailers operate?
A: Artificial intelligence (AI) will be a big buzz in technology. We saw Google introduce a major revolution with the Google Assistant this year. AI speeds up the process of business, creating quicker turnaround for sales and overall profit. It will replace some common human operations but will be a positive change by creating more efficiencies. AI will help deeply understand consumer psyche and behavior, making data even more valuable. This will also further integrate every customer touch-point to create consistencies across all POS platforms.
Q: What separates Lightspeed from other POS systems?
A: We're a cloud-based omnichannel product, which gives independents the opportunity to sell everywhere. Where some companies may be focused on e-commerce, Lightspeed originated as POS software. We understand what retailers need in-store as well as online.
Due to the nature of Lightspeed's simple retail platform with some of the most-powerful options for inventory management, we work with a lot of high-inventory retailers, such as bike shops and software companies. Lightspeed offers shop owners a way to better manage everything they need day to day, without compromising other aspects of their business.
Our customer-centric approach is also a key driver of business, and we stay focused on meeting the day-to-day needs of our retail partners. Our mission is to bring city streets to life, and every employee, retailer, and restaurateur is a key contributor to that idea.
Q: What piece of technology could you not live without?
A: The iTunes playlist. It inspired the early beginnings of the Lightspeed interface, and without it, we wouldn't have the company platform we do today. I started coding on a Mac when I was 13, and over time, I was inspired by the easy-to-use format of the original iTunes playlist. We used that format to build the initial Lightspeed platform.
Q: What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
A: Don't be afraid to take risks in your career. If you're starting your own business, trust in your ideas and invest in a supportive team. If you've joined a company, own your role and embrace responsibility – use your talents to create a working dynamic. If you work in a client-facing industry, always put your customers first.
Q: What's the best book or blog you've read this year?
A: "The Internet to the Inner-Net: Five Ways to Reset Your Connection and Live a Conscious Life" sent to me by the author, Google chief evangelist Gopi Kallayil.
Q: What's the biggest risk you've taken professionally? Did it pay off?
A: Bootstrapping for the first few years was often considered risky, but I was keen to take on investors only when the time felt right. We took the time to truly grow our company culture and develop Lightspeed without major investments for the first seven years.
Lightspeed was built on culture, just as much as code. We grew strongly through the bootstrapping process, which helped us build a solid rapport with our early customers and continue those relationships as we grow.
When we took our first major investors in 2012, we went from 45 to 150 employees, opened a New York City office and managed more than 15,000 customers. We have seen exponential growth since then while staying true to our early-day values. We now have more than 50,000 customers globally.
Q: As a leader, what's the biggest challenge you face?
A: When you're 'in the trenches' it can be easy to lose sight of your mission and the 'big picture.' As leaders, we have all been there. It's important to not only celebrate the big wins but to also support setbacks.
Innovation doesn't happen overnight, and teams need the freedom to both build things and break things. Letting go and allowing your team to make mistakes only reinforces stronger teams in the end, but it is challenging to do at first.