Retailers: Is it Time for Better Accounting Software?

Andy Anderson

business accounting softwarePerhaps a new POS system doesn't integrate with your bookkeeping programs, or you are still creating your own Excel templates to manage the business. Accounting software was once used to track expenditures such as overhead and payroll, but now it encompasses everything from POS to inventory. Is it time to make the switch to a new system? It all depends on your comfort level with using automated accounting software, but more and more retail business owners are enjoying improved functionality across all segments of their operation.

What can the latest retail accounting software do for you?

When your business switches from a fragmented approach to a complete retail accounting system, you will see improved functionality throughout the company which will ultimately save time and money. Most traditional accounting applications are designed for the general ledger, accounts payable and payroll, but few of them interact with the retail point-of-sale (POS) system to impact purchasing and inventory. Gone are the days when a retail business needs to purchase more than one software application. The best software is used equally by both the sales floor and the back office.

More than just a POS system

When a retail business uses a POS system to track SKU numbers and scan barcodes, it allows for faster and more accurate purchasing, tight inventory control and improved loss prevention. In order to get that competitive edge, it is just as critical that your software solution gives you the analytical capabilities to make strategic business decisions. Some of these important decisions cannot be made without knowing the top selling items, identifying selling trends such as seasonality and customer demand. Reports can now be generated identifying items sold within certain locations, but not in others, thereby creating a different merchandising strategy from one store to the next. The next wave of business intelligence will also help business owners predict which areas of the business will be successful next year, and which areas may need improvement.

Brick-and-mortar and E-commerce capabilities

When the virtual retail store first became a new stream of revenue, retailers developed new ways of tracking sales made online. Often, these virtual shopping carts didn't integrate with other retail accounting systems, but this is changing as well. If your business accounting system doesn't integrate with digital sales tools, it can be difficult to reconcile the two systems each month. Some products might be sold through a physical location as well as online or through direct sales. Multi-channel sales can be a huge revenue builder, but they can also impact inventory control and other accounting functions. Look for a retail software solution for your business that allows for multi-channel sales models.

Don't forget the customers

As competition increases, customers are starting to expect more flexibility from retail stores. Now, rather than simple POS systems with simple payment options, many businesses are adding integrated terminals that offer more information about the transaction. Modern point-of-sale stations also provide greater flexibility with payment options, supporting cash, credit, checks, payments on accounts, gift cards and more. It may also be necessary to accept coupons that are barcoded on smartphones instead of paper. In addition to accepting these payments and tracking customer activity, these POS systems can identify product availability across multiple locations, show similar products that may interest the customer, and collect information for future marketing purposes.

Make sure it is easy to use

The more capabilities that are added to retail accounting software, the more complicated it can become. Unfortunately, not every software developer considers how easy these programs are to use. Look for software that comes with a virtual training session, tutorials, set-up wizards, and a simplified touch-screen interface.

The easiest way to find a business software suite for your company is to read reviews online and look at what people are buying in your industry. Ask around and find out which POS system integrates with your existing accounting system, or consider replacing both systems at the same time. The investment will pay for itself over time through tighter inventory controls and better consumer insights.

Photo Courtesy of Hin255 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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