Retail Challenges: Could Replacing Your POS System Help?

By:  on September 26, 2017

If you run a retail business, then you’re probably familiar with the common challenges we discuss below. They may be why you can’t sleep at night. But regardless of your sleeping habits, have you considered whether or not your current POS system is the root of your problems?

Replacing your current software may remedy these retail challenges you’re facing. But in some cases, replacing your entire POS isn’t the best move for you at the moment.

We’ve created a solutions flowchart to help you determine whether your business needs to refine its existing processes or invest in a new system.

retail pos challenges

  Download Chart  
To create this flowchart, we took a look at the conversations our retail software advisors have with small and midsize businesses (SMBs) each day:

  • Each section breaks down a key pain point driving retail business owners to replace their current POS system.
  • Each section outlines whether the issue calls for a replacement or for a revision of existing practices.

Don’t forget to download the flowchart for a quick reference should you encounter a similar issue at your business.

 Challenge 1: You need better inventory tracking capabilities

The retail businesses we work with at Software Advice are mostly looking for software to improve (if not fully automate) currently tedious manual processes that are vital to the operation.

Inventory tracking is no exception, and is the top pain point facing the retail business owners we speak with. Retailers have to strike a balance between inventory on hand and projected demand. If that balance is compromised, then the items are either out of stock or over-ordered.

Both are damning, which is why 82 percent of POS buyers request inventory management capabilities.

The major challenge with inventory is that most retailers have to manage tons of different items, with many items featuring multiple variations. There’s also the challenge of maintaining this across multiple sales channels, such as multiple locations, online, social or even popups. This requires having exact quantities that are updated in real time.Even inventory management software can be fallible since it requires human input regarding product names, quantities, descriptions, variations, identification codes and many more details.

If implemented and used properly, an inventory management system enables retailers to better achieve both a healthy quantity of a specific product as well as the right mix of total overall products.


Should I Replace My Retail Software?  IT DEPENDS

(This answer is unique to account for inventory tracking within a POS system as well as a stand-alone software which is a common option.YES

If you’re currently using spreadsheets to manually input and track changes in inventory, or if your current system requires you to manually input products (i.e. no barcode scanning for quick uploading).


If you’re having trouble with the inventory management component of your POS system, then replacing the whole POS might be excessive. You might look to integrate a stand-alone system or work with your POS provider to overcome your challenges.


If you haven’t spent the time doing the dirty work of organizing your inventory system, then you’ll face the same challenges until you take the time to do it right. Make sure the products information from your inventory lines up with the information shown during checkout.



Compare Products

Vend’s inventory management includes price, size, color and other valuable descriptors

There are tons of inventory software options to choose from. Most retail POS systems include inventory management capabilities and many stand alone systems are built to integrate with a point of sale for seamless inventory tracking.

 Challenge 2: You need support gathering, analyzing and using key data

Data, data everywhere. It seems like data collection and analysis is ubiquitous in our modern society. As a result, you need to keep up with these standards to remain competitive.

If you’re a retail business owner not leveraging sales and product and customer data to improve operations, then you’re not just doing it wrong, you’re failing your customers and severely limiting your business.

Ineffective reporting and analysis, or the lack thereof, is the second most common challenge that our retail business owners are facing. And sales reporting and analytics capabilities are specifically requested by half of retail business owners we consult.

Most retail POS systems on the market today offer at least basic reporting capabilities to help you gain some insight into your business. But the depth of information and ease of capturing these reports (not to mention user-friendliness) can be questionable.

The benefit of reporting and data analysis is in the improved decision making that it unlocks. Pinpointing and understanding what makes your business tick enables you make smarter decisions.

These methods can help you decide where to open a second location, what new products to test out, and where to focus your marketing efforts. If you’re not capturing this with for your business, you’re probably wondering:


Should I Replace My Retail Software?  YES

If your current POS system doesn’t provide you with the depth of data you need to make more informed business decisions, than you need to replace your current system.Most POS systems available include powerful reporting capabilities that can provide you with all the sales and product and customer data needed to better understand your business.

Reporting and analytics becomes even more important as you move into online sales. Knowing which customer demographics are purchasing which products enables you to segment your marketing for a more efficient reach.

 Challenge 3: You need help scaling operations to multiple locations

Many retail operators might be comfortable with their “good enough for right now” POS system and supplemental software. But what happens when “right now” gives way to the future? Will these operators be prepared to move into a second location or even open an online store?

For these retailers, what was once one sales channel, one store inventory, one customer list is now two. And who’s to say they’ll be anything like the other?

Doubling down on your retail footprint is a courageous act. It’s also our third most identified retail pain point.

Multi-location management doesn’t have to be some scary beast. Modern POS systems do a great job providing a unified backend (inventory, customer information, reporting etc.), which can be seamlessly added to or drawn from from multiple locations.

If you don’t feel your current system offers that type of support, than you probably know the answer to:


Should I Replace My Retail Software?  YES

If you want to grow your retail business to multiple locations (including online) and your current system doesn’t support this, then it’s time to upgrade to a new POS system.Most all new POS systems offer some form of multi-location management, including a centralized backend, which provides a snapshot of your entire business from one convenient location.


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Square’s multi-location management capabilities (Source: Square

Multiple location management enables retailers to track products as they move across multiple inventories and sales channels. This enables products to be shifted from one store’s inventory to another if need be. There’s also the ability to track customers and add to their profiles and purchase histories if they shop at multiple locations.

Read our article “5 Must-Have Retail POS Software Features to Streamline Your Small Business” for more information about what features you need in a POS system now and later as you grow.

Next Steps

Now that you know whether or not it’s time to replace your POS system, you may be needing some help choosing the best system for your needs. Here’s a few suggestions on how to do that.

  • Read user reviews of top retail POS systems to see how your retail operating peers have overcome their challenges using software.
  • Email me at for more information. I’d be glad to help you determine your best move(s) to overcome your challenges and connect you to one of our expert retail software advisors for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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