While liquor stores offer big opportunities to achieve solid profit margins, these operations also pose specific challenges. In addition to the requirements that all retailers face, liquor store operators also must pay close attention to inventory control, age verification, and security/loss prevention precautions. Fortunately, today’s point of sale (POS) solutions combine many of the most important elements of successful liquor sales operations.
Following are six must-have features to seek out in a liquor store POS solution:
- Full inventory control: Even a relatively small liquor store will carry thousands of SKUs in a wide variety of forms, from individual bottles and cans to multi-packs, cases, kegs, and more. A POS with inventory tracking designed for this range of product, along with integrated barcode scanning of UPC codes for speed and greater accuracy, provides liquor store operators with up-to-the-minute knowledge of what’s in stock (and where in the store it’s currently located), what’s been sold, and what needs to be ordered.
- Sales reports and analysis: With complete and accurate inventory control, a liquor store POS system has the data needed to provide detailed reporting on product sales. This can be “sliced and diced” in a variety of ways – by individual item or groups of items, or broken down by year, month, date, or even time of day they are sold. Top-sellers, high profit generators and seasonal favorites can be easily identified, and operators can also track individual employees’ sales and conversion rates.
- Purchase order generation: Another offshoot of solid inventory control is the ability to generate purchase orders as items run low. Today’s liquor store POS solutions incorporate such functionality, allowing operators to easily manage vendors in the tightly controlled alcohol distribution industry. Operators can create, send, and track purchase orders, as well as accurately manage receipt of deliveries and associated payments.
- Age verification: A liquor store POS incorporating age verification via swiping of customers’ driver’s licenses facilitates compliance with liquor laws and minimizes the risk of inadvertently selling minors alcohol or tobacco products. Identifying information can also be manually entered into the system to approve a sale to customers of legal age. Nothing replaces employee training and vigilance, but the presence of age verification technology makes it less likely that a liquor store will face fines or be caught in a “sting” operation.
- Promotional pricing: Sales and special offers can bring customers in and boost basket sizes, and the liquor store POS should be easily configurable to handle them. For example, “mix and match” capabilities, such as offering a discount for purchasing any 12 bottles of wine, should be simple to set up for a variety of wines and sizes (and to exclude restricted sizes, such as airplane bottles). Other sales parameters, such as time limitations, global sales (e.g. “10% off all French wines), or bulk pricing for major customers or a catered event, should be manageable via a simple user interface with the liquor store POS.
- Loss prevention and surveillance: Liquor stores have greater security needs than many other retailers, so it’s a big benefit to incorporate a range of loss prevention capabilities into the POS. Today’s advanced systems can overlay video surveillance of POS stations with the text data generated on customer receipts, allowing managers to easily link suspicious activity with specific transactions. Because sales, voids, deletions, and discounts can be easily tracked by POS station or associate, it’s easier to discover dishonest employees.
The complexities of liquor store operations can be tamed and managed with a feature-rich POS system that combines basic transactional and record-keeping capabilities with functionality that’s specific to the needs of this particular environment.