Point of Sale (POS) software is not just for use in traditional brick and mortar retail stores. Many wholesale businesses can also benefit from POS functionality when they also operate as a cash and carry, have a showroom for walk-in customers or have separate retail locations. In these situations, businesses often start by assessing point of sale software that can also help run the wholesale side of the business. However, this can often lead to gaps in required functionality and a better approach is to look for back-end inventory and accounting ERP software with built-in POS functionality. An ERP system will provide tools to manage back-end processes such as inventory, purchase orders, sales and financials, while POS functionality will allow users to create orders and accept payment on the front-end. In addition, ERP systems often include specialized features that are designed with specific processes and businesses in mind, such as lot tracking, eCommerce integration and landed cost tracking. Although POS is an important piece of functionality for any business selling directly to the end customer, it should not be the first consideration for wholesale businesses when evaluating software. An all-in-one ERP solution with built in POS will allow a wholesale company to manage sales from all channels – not just retail – such as eCommerce, tradeshows, EDI and external and internal sales reps. Having information stored in one database means that inventory information is always up-to-date so you’re not able to sell product you don’t have – no matter what channel you’re selling through.
Just like standalone POS systems, ERP with POS functionality is designed to work in-store with barcode readers, cash drawers, receipt printers and display poles to allow businesses to process debit, credit and cash sales. POS for wholesale businesses often means having POS stations set up at the front of your warehouse as a cash and carry business, within your showroom or even as part of your display when exhibiting at tradeshows. If you operate multiple retail storefronts, the right software will be able to pull reports based on individual location performance, or consolidate information across the entire business.
When evaluating ERP with POS, specific functionality to look for includes:
- Ability to support payments in multiple currencies including split currency payments
- Ability to support split payments between types of payments such as cash, credit card, gift card and others
- Ability to support payment on account – this is especially important for those who wholesale product in which their customers maintain a large balance on account
- Automatic calculation of sales commissions
- Inventory detail lookup including multiple warehouse locations, items on order, items on backorder etc.
- The ability to manage multiple ‘in-progress’ transactions on the same terminal
- Integration with back-end ERP in terms of GL, AR, inventory, customer information, pricing, commissions, booked sales reports, taxes and more
Another important piece of functionality to look for is offline access in case of a connectivity issue. The ability to work offline means employees can continue to process orders while customers are still in-store. Once an internet connection is re-established, any new orders will be automatically uploaded into the back-end ERP system so that information in the database is resynced and up-to-date.
If you sell through multiple sales channels as a wholesale business (including retail), POS software is not the only type of system you will need. Instead of implementing multiple, standalone solutions, focus your search on ERP with built-in POS functionality. This means all information is stored and managed in one database, and eliminates the need to enter information into multiple systems. This in turn will save users time looking up information and entering data, and thus reduces the amount of errors associated with doing so.