Reporting functions are the brain of your business – the Spock to your Captain Kirk. It’s the way in which your EPOS system reports business intelligence to you; and the role of good reporting to augment your decisions as a manager.
That’s why we’ve given reporting its own section.
Reporting functions tend to fall into a spectrum; from simple preset reports – up to really complex interfaces which can be used to understand your business any way you like, but require a little more skill to operate.
Here’s the spectrum:
The Very Basics: Sales Reports / Rigid Timeframes
Freepos systems will be able to show you a basic log of sales.
This means more or less what it says; you can see a graph which will show you how many of each product you sold over the past month. You can usually select products to compare, and change the view between week / month / year.
You should also be able to compare e.g. this month to last month; but you’re unlikely to be able to move the dates round flexibly.
You should always be able to export your data into a .csv file unless you’ve bought a really terrible system. But you may find that you’re not able to set custom date ranges, or compare things other than on the product level.
Set Lenses / Custom Timeframes
The next level up is the ability to view performance through a series of lenses – some of which might be pre-structured into the way the EPOS software works.
For example, different EPOS systems can compare by the following:
- Store geography. This could refer to which table does the best; which shelf sells the best, and so forth.
- Till by till / store by store
- Collection or season
- Promotion or sale
- Throughput or sell-through rate
- Staff performance
- Attachment rates. We know that buying cigarettes often comes with buying a lighter. If you’re a music shop, it will be useful to test if someone buying a guitar in-store is more likely to then buy a guitar case, or a guitar capo, for example. You can examine the interrelation between different products and see what gets bought together. You can then make a point of your shop’s selection of cases when selling a guitar.
We’d also hope to see custom time frames by which you can compare the data.
Custom lenses / Custom Frames
One thing which begins to matter at this stage is the level of information your inventory can hold on a single product; and how finely you can compare that data using comparison tools.
Often, the information you want to review is just too diverse for pre-coded templates to really work. You want to be able to add attributes of your own to products, which you should then be able to compare.
Categories above the level of the product are normally described as “categories”; categories below the level of the product are normally called “attributes” “modifiers” or “variants.”
For example with one of StoreKit’s products, the Star TSP143LAN printer; has a total of eight tags across four categories and four variants. It’s categories as “hardware”, “printers”, “receipt printer”, “Star (the brand)” and “TSP100 (the series)”. Then, it’s attributed as “iOS”, “Ethernet”, and finally, “black.” Most of these tags are essential to getting the customer the right product. There’s also information around supplier.
If I wanted to examine the performance of the TSP143LAN I may wish to compare products tagged “printer” versus those tagged “cash drawer”. I might want to look at printers tagged “iOS” versus those tagged as “Android”.
I might want to compare different categories, and determine whether we had more TSP100 printers or Android printers in total selling on the platform.
This requires a greater degree of flexibility, and more set-up time for you.
Aggregating External Data & Smart Suggestions
Two areas in which EPOS systems are likely to get better as the software advances is “smart suggestions” and aggregated analytics.
Smart suggestions is where the EPOS does your *thinking* for you. EPOS is on the cusp of becoming intelligent and automatic. Lots of EPOS systems will automatically reorder stock; for example. But some EPOS systems can make suggestions.
External data can pull data in for other sources. One example is weather data. Many stores experience a drop in sale numbers in poor weather; and it may be appropriate to hire fewer staff on rainy days.
You may wish for certain staff members to have access to financial data, and you can create secure log-ins for managers only. If you’re a multi-site manager of a pub chain, for example, you’ll have a different, protected log-in screen. You can switch from pub to pub to compare performance, set menus centrally, and collect several data reports to give you a broad understanding of your business. Paid-for EPOS systems like Lightspeed, Revel Systems and iKentoo will be adapted for these more complex things.
With a cloud-based EPOS system, your data is safely secured in the cloud (What is the cloud?). This means your reports will be available to view on a web browser, anywhere in the world and at any time. The data will be constantly updated, so you can make better & informed decisions.
Make sure that you choose a system that can grow with you, if you open up more sites. Look out for POS systems that let you manage multiple stores from a single account…both for reporting and for centralised product management. So, if you do have lots of shops, you’ll be able to compare product performance across them.
Be smart with your EPOS. Modern retailers need to keep up with the ever-evolving state of the retail universe – so nowadays EPOS systems offer a broad range of measures. When picking an EPOS, think about how it can manipulate, cross-reference and compare data from multiple facets of your business. If this sounds overwhelming, StoreKit are here to help. Call us today and we’ll talk through the different Point of Sale solutions available, and their reporting functions.
Ultimately, it’s what you do with these reports that matters. Look out for the ability to filter or customise your reports multiple ways. You don’t just have to pick one lens. It might be useful for you to cross-analyse a few products – maybe to view how an entire brand is doing across a few different verticals (the season, for example).
Also with StoreKit…
StoreKit is a market, not a shop. We partner with all the leading EPOS software and payments providers on the market, and send you the hardware ourself. For our advice, book a 10 minute consultation, and we can describe the best software for you. It’s a completely free service, which won’t affect your price.