LightSpeed Reports 398 Percent year-over-year growth in cloud business and $7.3 billion in transaction volume

LightSpeed Launches Advanced Cloud Analytics for Retailers of Any Size. Company reports 398 percent year-over-year growth in cloud business and $7.3 billion in transaction volume; brings new levels of sales and customer insights to merchants.

MONTREAL, June 18, 2014 – LightSpeed, the commerce platform for serious retailers, today launched Advanced Reporting for LightSpeed Cloud, as well as increased momentum for its cloud business line and transaction volume. As a follow-up to the launch of its brandable iPad POS application, today’s announcement adds big data analytics to LightSpeed’s cloud-based POS system, giving retailers real-time insight into sales, inventory trends and customer preferences so they can make better decisions about their business.

As evidence of the increased demand for cloud-based POS tools that go beyond the transaction, LightSpeed is seeing 70 percent of new customers opting for cloud. In addition, revenue from its cloud line of business has increased 398 percent in the last 12 months. The company is also revealing that its 19,000 stores are processing $7.3 billion in annual transaction volume, up from $6 billion earlier this year.

Brick and Mortar moves to the Cloud

Increasingly, independent brick-and-mortar retailers are turning to cloud-based technologies that can help create the highly personalized customer experience once only possible online or to larger retailers with deeper pockets. According to Accenture, the retail cloud market is expected to reach more than $15.1 billion in 2015. When LightSpeed introduced its cloud POS in 2013, it enabled independent retailers to manage their business, engage customers, and check them out, all from a web browser or an iPad. In addition to the ease, agility and cost savings inherent to the cloud, LightSpeed now provides retailers of any size with actionable data analytics — including insight and predictive visibility into sales, inventory levels, employee performance and customer preferences –to help them grow their business and better serve their customers.

“We implemented LightSpeed because we absolutely needed a cloud solution that could fit the needs of our growing brand. With our rapid expansion — adding five stores in four years — we knew we would need one holistic view of all of our inventory, sales and employees,” said Wesley Uthus, co-owner of Minnesota-based fashion boutique PRIMP. “Now, with LightSpeed, my partner and I know what’s going on across all our stores at all times down to very specific detail. We can make informed decisions about which store needs our attention most on any day of the week. It helps us determine where we need to focus our resources to keep business running smoothly and profitably.”

Big Data for Small Retail

Most point of sale systems for small and mid-sized retailers offer rudimentary reporting, such as sales totals or number of transactions. LightSpeed’s new Advanced Reporting for Cloud includes more than 40 reports that give detailed information on product sales, profits and margins; customer preferences; employee performance; payment methods; and vendor-by-vendor analytics; across all stores and channels. A highly visual, real-time “Dashboard,” accessible via a web browser or through a mobile app, gives a quick look at performance across all stores, and the new “Stats” panel shows best and worst performers across locations. In addition to giving a complete, real-time perspective of your business, LightSpeed’s new advanced analytics allow retailers to predict sales, inventory needs, and revenue based on historical trends and external factors like weather and holidays. It also captures customer preferences across online and offline channels, indicating purchase history, favorite items, and other customer insights that fuel successful loyalty programs.

“Customer engagement, forecasting and inventory management technologies are only as good as the data that fuels them. This, coupled with more traditional retailers expanding online and bringing retail technologies into their stores, has made demand for cloud-based POS tools and data analytics soar,” said Dax Dasilva, CEO of LightSpeed. “As a result, we’ve seen a 150 percent increase in our cloud customer base in the past twelve months. With Advanced Analytics, we’re delivering to retailers the kind of data analysis normally associated with large-scale ERP or business intelligence solutions, but in an easy-to-use format and at a cloud price.”

Examples of the insights retailers can glean from LightSpeed’s new Advanced Analytics include:

  • A holistic view of your customers: how they engage with your brand online, in-store, and through email

  • Which vendors, products, and stores are the most profitable

  • Who your most loyal customers are, and how you can reward them

  • How to better prepare for seasonal holidays or weather shifts

  • The strengths and weaknesses of your sales team so that you can reward star performers and augment training resources

About LightSpeed

LightSpeed provides serious retailers the simplest way to build, manage and grow their business and create a better shopping experience. More than 19,000 stores processing over $7.3 billion in transactions annually use LightSpeed’s retail commerce platform to unify inventory, customer preferences, sales and analytics, in-store and online. Founded in 2005 with offices in Montreal, New York City, Olympia, WA, Ottawa, Santa Cruz and Sydney, LightSpeed is backed by Accel Partners and iNovia Capital.

How Mobile POS Can Help Your Business

Portable transactions are becoming the wave of the future for many businesses and smartphone applications are following the trend like a dog chasing a hare.  Not all businesses feel they need a mobile POS application. They may assume that with a POS system in-store, it would not be of any benefit to them.  They may assume that only mobile retailers such as farmers markets, flea markets and the occasional street fair vendor would need a mobile POS.  But, in many cases, these assumptions are incorrect. Mobile POS systems can benefit all different types of businesses, whether it is a large department store that has been in business for many years or a small retailer just getting started.  If there’s a way to make customers happier, it’s worth looking into.

I took some time to experiment with some of the more popular apps available and found that some do it all, while others pale in comparison. I’m hesitant to name the apps that I found were difficult to use, slow in processing speed, and without much content. Therefore, I’ll start by focusing on two apps that I feel are more than “worth your time” to look into.

Krugism Development LLC has developed a mobile application for your smartphone called Registroid™  POS, which is free to download and utilize. They have also created an enhanced version, Registroid™ Pro.  The free version incorporates all basic functions of a full blown POS system into a portable convenience, designed to work with the Android OS and most tablets.  Registroid™ is set up to tender cash, checks, and with the free integrated system of Square, credit cards.

Two of the features I found most valuable with the free version are processing speed and usability.  It does not require you to log on to a web page to process a transaction, hence, immediate sale.  And, if you have knowledge of the basic cash register or POS system, you will find that the layout is easy to understand and quick to learn.

The keyboard, which is a touch keyboard assignment, can also be customized to fit your specific needs allowing you to easily add or delete certain buttons. For example, let’s say you run a business that does not allow returns and you want to make sure your employees don’t accidentally accept a return.  You can delete the “return” button from the system so returns are not an option.

Another great feature of the free version is the ability to run X and Z daily sales reports*, including shift totals, daily totals, shift history and daily history.  Furthermore, it offers you the ability to backup your database to your SD card (you never know when your cell phone might call it quits), enter specific tax percentages, use fractional quantities, and add GPS transaction history.

On the other hand, the Registroid™  Pro version, $39.99, turns the few inabilities into capabilities. With the pro version, you have the ability to email, text or print receipts (printing only available along with WiFi receipt printers), run enhanced reports, add unlimited departments, and utilize Google Analytics Ecommerce sales postings.  One last incredibly useful tool is the inventory maintenance button which allows you to not only scan your inventory bar codes, but also type in the product description, upload customized product pictures, and add specific item tax (four tax rate sections available). As a side note, both  the Registroid™  free version and the Registroid™  Pro version are not yet set up with features for large restaurants.

Square is another simple-to-use portable POS application designed to work with your Android, Ipod, Ipad or Itouch.  First introduced to the public in October, 2010, Square has had 250,000 downloads and a user rating of 4 ½ stars, proving that it can be a very beneficial addition to your business.

Square can be used alone or alongside Registroid™.  It is a free credit card/cash terminal application that also comes with a free credit card reader.  The benefits of this app are security, next-day payout, fast set-up and fast transactions, no merchant account required, transparent pricing without any setup or monthly fees, and acceptance of all major credit cards.  Square also features basic sales history reports along with the ability to accept tips. The only downfall that I found was that it does not offer funds verification.

Regardless of your in-store system or the lack thereof, the benefits of a mobile POS app can and will help improve customer satisfaction and overall profitability. This is the future of payment transactions and the days of posting “Cash Only” signs may forever be in our past.

*X and Z Reports: The X report is like running a subtotal, for comparing the amount of sales in the cash drawer to the amount registered on the system, before and after a shift. Running an X report allows you or your employee to recount monies, if necessary, to balance. The Z report closes the current batch and finalizes it, then opens it for the following shift.

How to Increase Sales With a Point-of-Sale System

As a business owner, the goal of any business is to increase its net income. There are two ways to address this: (1) Reduce operating costs, and/or (2) Increase sales. Traditionally, point of sale systems have concentrated on the first method by reducing operating costs.

By automating mundane tasks, POS systems have helped retailers reduce their overhead. Today, the next generation of point of sale software can further help retailers increase their net income by helping them increase sales too.

Next generation point of sale software offers additional features to aid retailers in increasing their sales volume and geographical reach. While retailers can still enjoy lower overhead costs, they can now take advantage of these new features to increase their sales through better customer service and new channels offered by the Internet. Increasing sales offers a dramatically higher return on investment to the retailer as the potential is virtually limitless.

Next generation POS systems offer some or all of the following features to help retailers increase their sales:

  1. Integrated eCommerce – a new storefront not limited by geography or time
  2. Auctions – new sales channel and marketing channel
  3. Sales Order & Telephone Order modules
  4. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) – improved customer service
  5. Integrated mass email – low cost promotions
  6. Club pricing – improves customer loyalty
  7. Revolving A/R (Accounts Receivable) – improves customer loyalty through credit
  8. Customer loyalty points reward programs
  9. Gift card sales and redemption built into the software
  10. Suggestive selling prompts for cashiers
  11. Receipt printers produce marketing messages
  12. New Signature Capture devices display marketing messages at the checkout line

At the end of the day, next generation point of sale systems allow retailers to increase their geographical reach and become more efficient marketers. A well implemented POS system results in reduced marketing expenditures and increased sales volume.

Mobile POS Enhances Marketing

Point of Sale (POS) systems do much more than track inventory and record financial transactions. They can also alert merchants to the personalities of their customers and help define a marketing direction. So much easier for all involved than the old “customer comment card” found at some establishments, mobile POS (MPOS) can capture data quickly, accurately and with little intervention into the consumer’s time. Sales associates can engage better with customers and the merchant benefits from a stronger client relationship and data that can help target marketing dollars.

An April 30, 2013 report from PYMTS provides an overview of the major players in the MPOS marketplace. While acknowledging that the MPOS sector in the retail market is expected to grow rapidly over the next five years, it will in all probability remain a small percentage of overall sales. According to the report, “MPOS will account for only about one tenth of one percent of all retail sales.”

A recent survey conducted by Constant Contact reports that 71 percent of small businesses using mobile technology now accept mobile payments and 52 percent use a mobile-/tablet-based MPOS system. However, many small businesses are not taking advantage of this technology, citing perceived customer disinterest, lack of time to learn the system, irrelevance to their business, and other issues.

MPOS remains relevant, however, because of the proliferation of mobile smart phones and tablets, allowing both consumers and merchants opportunities for easy transactions at points of sale. A recent Forrester Research report predicts that one billion consumers will have smart phones by 2016.

Javelin Strategy and Research also released a report in late April 2013 that projects up to $1.1 trillion in annual sales through mobile POS. Javelin’s report involved interviews with executives at 14 mobile POS providers, as well as data from a random survey of 6,651 consumers, identifying key trends and themes in the market. An area of weakness in MPOS that came to light in the survey was security. Javelin found that only 28 percent of consumers consider mobile credit card processing as secure, but this was counterbalanced by the level of convenience offered by mobile applications.

Most MPOS systems provide immediate access to inventory and price information, expediting sales transactions from anywhere in the store or even outside the store. In terms of marketing strategy, access to the customer’s purchase history and interests are tracked, allowing retailers to increase up-selling and cross-selling with positive impact on revenue.

MPOS is good for the merchant, as it captures purchasing behaviors without intrusion into consumer’s time or personal space. It helps speed customer interactions while providing a positive retail experience that goes beyond the traditional “loyalty program.” Information about the products purchased are stored and used to create personalized prompts a store clerk could access to cross-sell or up-sell merchandise. And the marketing team could use the information stored in the database to create campaigns which would send relevant marketing content directly the customer on their mobile phone or email based on customer behavior.

There are many POS software products on the market, so the decisions on which to choose should be based on the evaluation of specific business needs, options and budget. It should not be difficult to find a solution that’s easy to install and use at a reasonable cost for purchase and maintenance.