Grocery point of sale systems must provide a host of feature-rich functions – from handling PLU codes for perishables to integrating with scales located throughout the store – without ever sacrificing either checkout speed or accuracy. Fortunately, today’s POS systems are designed to handle all these aspects of grocery operations, while also helping retailers keep closer tabs on inventory, boost customer loyalty, and stimulate sales with customizable coupons and combo kits.

Among the most important “must-have” features for market and grocery POS systems are:

Inventory Control: The average grocery store carries as many as 30,000 SKUs, including a wide range of perishable items. Keeping close track of all this inventory is a business basic that is key to efficiency and profitability. Order too much of a given item and you lose valuable shelf space; over-order perishables, and waste and shrink numbers will climb. Under-ordering means some customers will leave your store frustrated at not finding what they want. Grocery POS systems generating inventory reports allow retailers to track every product coming into, or out of, a store. The analysis provides trend insights, telling retailers when to order critical fast-moving items and when to reduce orders for slower-moving SKUs.

Customer Loyalty: Today’s retail grocery POS systems make it simple to set up loyalty programs that reward top customers for frequent purchases. In addition to tying these shoppers more closely to your store, loyalty programs provide valuable vehicles for customer marketing, allowing retailers to send direct mail, e-mail or text messages to shoppers. Analysis of members’ purchasing patterns also provides important data about the value of different customer segments and who is buying which items, allowing grocery retailers to boost profitability and better manage their inventories.

Hot Key Look Ups: Fast checkouts are essential in grocery retailing. Providing hotkeys for produce and other non-barcoded items allows cashiers – even those with only a few days on the job – to efficiently ring up orders without needing to sort through dozens of PLU numbers. Products can be sorted by department so users can quickly drill down through fruits, to apples, to the specific variety being purchased. Color-coding and product pictures also shave seconds off of checkout processes and simplify the training of new hires.

Creating Combo Kits: By combining items that go together logically – such as flowers and chocolates before Valentine’s Day – and offering the combos with a discount, grocery retailers can upsell high-margin items by bundling them with products that are known to drive sales. Today’s retail grocery POS systems simplify the creation of these combo kits, providing a unique barcode or hotkey for the bundle. The POS system can recognize the combo even when the items are rung up separately, applying the appropriate discount during the checkout process.

Issuing Coupons to Drive Sales: Discounts and special offers will drive sales among key customer groups. A POS system should give retailers the ability to create coupons for individual items, entire departments, or a mixed-and-matched group of SKUs. Ads placed in newspapers or circulars can contain coupons featuring barcodes that can be scanned at the checkout. Unlimited Item Database: A retail grocery POS should offer sufficient storage for an essentially unlimited item database. New products are coming on the market every day, and expanding into new categories is a proven method for growing grocery business. The database should be easily searchable from any POS screen, allowing users to drill down by category, department, or vendor.

These must-have elements of a grocery POS make these systems an integral part of maintaining operational efficiency, boosting sales and improving customer service.

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