Pet store retailers must deal with a number of daunting challenges, ranging from demanding customers to literally live inventory. Choosing an optimal point of sale (POS) system means finding technology that offers a number of functionalities that are specific to pet and animal retailing, in addition to the standard benefits of a modern POS system:
Faster transaction speeds Better transaction accuracy A centralized location for all sales and inventory data Ability to track individual employee performance and productivity Improved loss prevention capabilities
These features are obviously standard for any small business POS system, but for a pet store POS system, more specific functionalities needed include:
Accounts receivable and layaway: In many cases, pet retail sales involve animals that are not actually on site at the store – or in some cases not even born yet. These can include purebred puppies or kittens, animals with highly specific pedigrees, or exotic animals that need to be sourced from specific geographies. Since such transactions also often involve higher sales amounts and longer lead times, a pet store point of sale system should include an easy-to-manage layaway system. This allows customers to reserve purchases of the specific animals they want ahead of time, while also improving cash flow for the retailer. Simplified accounts receivable functionalities can serve the same purpose, allowing pet store retailers to take deposits and then collect the balance when they deliver the live inventory to the customer.
Customer data for advanced relationship management: In any type of retailing, knowing as much as possible about who your customers are provides strong clues about product preferences. With a pet store point of sale system that includes fields for both customer and pet/product information (pets’ names, breeds, colors, pedigrees, litter mates, etc.), and that also builds in the ability to keep detailed customer purchase histories, retailers can build and maintain ongoing relationships with their highest-value customers. Retailers can alert these customers when animals matching their preferred profiles become available, and can also personalize their marketing efforts with email or direct mail that includes pet names and birthdays.
Advanced inventory management: Keeping track of inventory is a big job for all retailers, large and small, but it’s especially challenging when the inventory is live, mobile, and growing. An optimal pet store POS system will include simple, easy to use inventory management capabilities. Such systems can assign unique identifiers, keyed to barcodes on cage labels or collars, for each member of a litter of puppies or kittens. This allows the pet retailer to easily keep track of sales without needing to name individual animals, and can also help avoid thefts or other mishaps.
A pet store point of sale system needs to do more than conduct and record transactions. Given the nature of what’s being sold, it should provide a complete and current picture of inventory at all times. Ideally, it can also serve the pet retailer as a database of customer and product information that can lead to long-term relationships, repeat business, and a solid foundation for healthy growth.