Seen & Heard: Smarter Ways to Use Your POS

Allegro Dance Boutique: Being able to see sales trends at the product level, in real time, means sales promotions can be based on real data, not just gut feelings.

Intuition is a great asset in some situations, but it’s not always the best business partner. As much as we celebrate people who go by “gut feelings” or “instinct,” it’s a much safer bet to make decisions based on hard data when you have it available.

And that’s where today’s point-of-sale systems excel in helping you manage your business—if you know how to make the most of all the data and reports they can deliver. With software from AccuPOS, Lightspeed, Shopify or Square, dance storeowners have access to the kind of sales-data analysis that used to be available only to big-box retailers who had spent big money to develop their own proprietary inventory-management systems. A robust POS can tell you, in real time, the departments and categories that are making you the most money. It can help you walk that fine line between too much inventory (which eats up cash flow) and too little (which loses sales). It can help you keep your business humming and open a path to growth.

Here, three dance retailers who swear by their POS systems tell you exactly why.

Mary Ann Hanlon

Owner, Mary Ann’s Dance and More
Easthampton, MA

POS System: Square, a no-startup-fee POS app that runs best on iPhones or iPads. Square takes a flat percentage of each transaction and offers additional services such as the flexible Square Loyalty program to track and reward repeat customers. It’s managed from an online dashboard.

“I love that Square integrates with QuickBooks so that accounting is much easier. Square helps me track inventory and allows me to create purchase orders—which makes ordering and receiving product so much easier.

“It also allows me to have an e-commerce site without any fee until someone purchases using the site. I use the marketing tool it offers to send e-mail blasts about sales, etc., to customers.

“It tracks customer history, which helps when parents come in without the dance student and need the next size shoe, or a new pair of the same shoe because one shoe was lost.

“I also use the loyalty program through Square. It has all the aspects that help me keep the accounting part of the business, as well as the customer-
service aspect, organized and in one place.”

Loube McIver

Owner, New Mexico Dancewear

POS System: AccuPOS, software that runs on Windows and Android systems. Like Square, it integrates with accounting software from QuickBooks and Sage and offers customer loyalty and inventory management modules.

“The most important thing for us about AccuPOS is that it allows us to keep an accurate inventory. It also allows us to look
up stock if we don’t have it on the floor to see immediate levels for customers, and it helps with inventory buying and planning. It allows us to put all stock into categories, which helps with planning and buying for the year.

“It’s all about inventory control—being able to see it correctly and order in a more organized way to prevent overstocks or holes in items or sizing of basic product.

“In addition, AccuPOS shows us where to focus advertising for each category. One example: We discovered that our flamenco category was the fastest growing this last year. This caused us to change the floor for more focus on all items in that category. We are adding advertising and checking resources for items we are missing.

“We are looking for an upgrade next month that will give us customer tracking (mailing info, etc.), purchases and discounts. We have many discounts for studios and schools that we want better information on.”

Aly Heintz Raddatz

Director of Operations, Allegro Dance Boutique
Evanston and Barrington, IL

POS System: Lightspeed is a cloud-based monthly-fee POS system that runs on iPads and Mac-based systems. Lightspeed also sells its own hardware, such as Bluetooth and USB barcode scanners. Before choosing Lightspeed two years ago, Allegro used CAM Commerce Solutions as its POS.

“The financial reporting available to us from Lightspeed is absolutely irreplaceable. Our old system was pretty archaic; its processes didn’t always work properly, and it was not user-friendly. It’s so great to be able to see sales and transactions at a glance, follow sales trends at the product level, etc.

“This system has also made inventory management so much better. We now can run our own physical inventory, trace the history of an item and easily see stock at each store.

“In addition to the inventory improvements, it has just given us more control over sales. Creating promotions, tracking sales per hour and reviewing average revenue per transaction daily has allowed us to make certain decisions using actual data, not just a gut feeling. It truly allows for our whole team to be on the same page.”

Anne M. Russell is a Los Angeles–based writer who covers technology, small business and fitness.

Photo courtesy of Allegro Dance Boutique


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