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Get Ready for Black Friday!

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It's the day that retailers both hate and love, and it seems to start earlier every year. Getting ready for Black Friday means getting all levels of your store, from the most basic stock essentials to revamping the look of your décor organized. Whether you're making small changes or big ones, make this the year to do it right, coming out on top after Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

But It's Not Even Halloween!

There are some changes that you can make immediately, such as changing the layout of your store to better display your stock. Other changes can take a little more effort, such as painting, bringing in new displays, upgrading your store's lighting scheme, or freshening up your old Slatwall. Still others can take time and a lot of effort to put in place, but once they're done, you'll see the difference in your cash flow. Big changes take time, so start those changes now by dedicating the time and effort before you have customers crushing through the door. Getting a new POS system in place will put you in the best possible position come Black Friday.

But I Have a Cash Register!

Okay. You have a cash register. What does it do? It holds cash and stores basic information about transactions. You may even have to match up individual transactions on the register tape with hand written receipts before you can enter them in your accounting application, and then match those receipts with items that came out of your inventory. That can be taxing on a busy day or weekend, but do you really want to do that at night after the busiest shopping day of the year? A cash register can't do the things a modern small business needs to do in order to stay competitive. And if you plan on doing pop up retail at holiday fairs, farmer's markets, or even in the local mall, can you take that register with you as easily as you can your tablet?

Okay, How Do I Start?

Start by thinking about a couple of different things. The first is technology. You probably have a computer - desktop or laptop - and a smartphone. You might even have an iPad or an Android tablet. And if you have any of those items, you probably already have applications that you use that are not hosted on any of the devices. For instance, if you have an Amazon cloud player that hosts your music and shows, a Netflix streaming account, or if you use Google's services like GMail, Google Drive, or Google Documents you are already using the cloud. Maybe you have some of your business software in the cloud, too, such as your Quickbooks or Wave accounting apps, or MS Outlook for your contacts, or a subscription to Adobe Creative Suite for your Photoshop and site building needs. The cloud makes software as service affordable and accessible to small businesses and Inc. Magazine project that in just six years, 80 percent of small businesses will be using cloud services for some or all of their needs. And if you have a tablet, you're already part way to that POS system.

Why Is It Such a Big Deal?

The big deal is about a little word - loss. A POS system is an information system, and the information that it provides you about your business is invaluable. Information systems generate reports about sales, telling you when your sales happen, what gets sold, who sells it, who buys it, how much you still have of it and when you need to order more. But more than that, a POS can help you stop shrinkage. The Houston Chronicle states that better information systems can stop the leaks of time, money, and product robbing your business of what it needs to grow - profit. The more information you have about your operation, the more detailed types of information that a POS makes available to you, the more you are able to fine tune your business - just like a mechanic can tune up a car for maximum performance.

Where Can I Get One?

You can purchase a POS anywhere from your local office supply store to eCommerce platforms like Shopify, it all depends on what's going to suit your needs best. While it was a slow summer for retailers, according to Reuters, the economy is still improving, and after the usual back to school shopping, people are already starting to receive the new run of holiday catalogs in their mailboxes. While times are still tight, your customers are already starting to plan their holiday shopping budgets, and allocating their funds to gifts for family, friends, and clients. Getting your store in order both online and in the actual storefront location will help to keep your jingle bells rocking right through the holiday shopping season.

Last updated on February 19, 2015.

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