There are many reasons why retailers may want to switch their point-of-sale (POS) system.
The right point of sale software can unlock a more satisfying experience for customers in-store and online. Upgrading to a new retail POS system can also simplify the checkout process, enable retailers to create engaging loyalty and incentive programs, and improve the efficiency of retail staff.
However, switching to a new POS system isn’t simply a matter of choosing a different solution and upgrading to newer hardware. Regardless of the reasons for the switch, comprehensive staff training is crucial to a successful transition. The more time retailers invest in training their staff to use a new POS, the greater the likelihood that the transition will be smooth for customers and staff alike.
If you are considering a new POS or have recently made the switch, here are five ways you can train your retail staff to use it effectively.
1. Train staff directly on the new POS system
When it comes to mastering a new POS system, there’s no substitute for hands-on experience.
Many POS providers offer video tutorials and illustrated product documentation to help retail staff get up to speed on their systems. Take processing a credit card transaction, for example. While a step-by-step video tutorial may provide a useful overview of the process, many people find that doing the process themselves is a far more effective way to learn.
Learning by doing provides the learner with instant feedback and the ability to reflect on what to keep doing, what to tweak and repeat, or what to change altogether. It's a great way to test competency to know if additional support would be helpful to create success for the learner. It moves us beyond theory. —Kris McCrea Scrutchfield, McCrea Coaching
Even retail staff who prefer training videos may not retain that information as effectively as they might by using the new POS system themselves. This can result in longer checkout times, customer frustration, and even lost sales.
Before training staff, set up the POS exactly as it will be when used in the store. All hardware and accessories should be connected properly, and each employee should have their own unique POS user account with roles and permissions assigned.
If a new POS system is designed to be primarily mobile, retailers can encourage their staff to use the system as they would while helping real customers on the shop floor.
2. Give staff access to historical POS data
Even if a new POS system is easier to use than a store’s current system, some retail staff may worry that they’ll be losing access to historical sales data, customer profiles, and other important information.
Reassure staff that all of their customer and sales information will be imported from the old POS system into the new one. Shopify POS offers several ways to do this using .CSV files and our robust ecosystem of third-party apps, tools, and plugins.
Cart2Cart is one such solution and offers simple data export to Shopify POS in just three steps. Best of all, tools such as Cart2Cart can import data to Shopify POS with zero downtime, which eliminates the possibility of lost online sales during the export process.
Excelify is another Shopify migration tool that allows retailers to import and export data to and from Shopify online stores quickly and easily. Excelify can migrate entire online storefronts from other ecommerce platforms to Shopify in just a few clicks, and can also update existing store data in bulk, including products, discounts, payments, draft orders, and even blog posts.
During training, show retail staff where they can find historical data in the POS system. Their ability to recommend specific products to customers requires it.
It’s worth bearing in mind that imported data may not look the same in a new system. Some reports may combine several data types into a single report, and other data types may be categorized differently in the new system. As such, retailers may want to consider showing staff how to customize these reports as well as how to access them.
3. Complete some real transactions
Once a new POS system has been installed and legacy sales data has been imported, many retailers give their staff an opportunity to test some transactions on the new system. This typically involves routine tasks such as completing a purchase using a range of payment methods or processing refunds and exchanges.
While test transactions are a valuable learning experience, completing real transactions requires navigating the unexpected hiccups that often happen in real life. Some POS systems allow retailers to simulate common problems, such as declined credit cards, but solving them with a real customer waiting for you is completely different.
Ideally, you don’t want learners trying a new skill for the first time on the job. Instead, have them practice the skill several times in a real-world context first. Not only will this help learners remember to do the right things, but it will increase their confidence for when it counts. —Stephen Meyer, Rapid Learning Institute
Even the simplest POS systems have a learning curve. For this reason, retailers may want to choose quieter periods to conduct real transactions with their new POS. Practicing using a POS with real customers is likely to be a lot easier during quieter periods because lines will be shorter, and staff may feel less pressure as they get used to the new system.
For brick-and-mortar retailers, the early morning during a weekday may be the ideal time. For others, it might be during the final hour of a store’s day or just after the afternoon rush. It may also be worth considering the preferences of individual staff members. A time that one employee may find convenient may not work as well for another.
Completing real transactions can also reveal problems that may not be as easily identified during test transactions. This includes apps or integrations that are missing, or potential problems with a POS system’s configuration.
4. Give employees enough time to acclimate
Migrating to a new POS system can be challenging, and so can training retail staff to use it. The less time staff have to acclimate to a new POS and learn how to use it, the greater the likelihood that mistakes will be made when the system is live.
Offer enough training time for employees to develop the muscle memory to access common features and perform routine tasks. The longer staff have to practice conducting transactions and navigating a new tool and workflow, the more confident they’re likely to be during real interactions with customers. This means faster, smoother transactions, fewer mistakes, and happier customers.
Consider the different ways people learn when developing training programs for retail staff. As such, a one-size-fits-all approach to staff training may not be effective. Consider spending time with individual staff members to ensure that they’re able to successfully complete routine tasks on the new system.
Investing enough time in staff training can save both time and money in the long run.
5. Ask for employee feedback
After introducing staff to a new POS and giving them enough time to learn how to use it, ask specific questions about their experience to surface potential problems and to make staff feel that their opinions and expertise are valued.
Curiosity is vital for building thriving companies and for fostering healthy relationships between managers and co-workers. Asking good questions gives you the power to solicit quality employee feedback, spark innovation, avoid fire-drills, and help employees show-up as their best selves. —David Hassell, 15Five
Asking general questions about, for example, access to the reports and customer information, can be a good starting point. Then, drill down with follow-up questions. Ask for examples of reports employees can’t configure or information they can’t find, and offer actionable solutions.
Asking open-ended questions rather than simple yes/no questions can help you get more candid, thoughtful feedback. For example, retailers could ask shop staff what additional functionality would help them serve customers more effectively, or which apps and integrations could improve the checkout experience.
Practice makes perfect
Training retail employees to use a new POS system takes time. But with a little planning and attention to detail, upgrading to a new POS doesn’t have to be difficult.
Shopify’s step-by-step onboarding process makes switching to Shopify POS easy. From setting up the Shopify POS app to creating customer profiles, Shopify can help retailers get up to speed quickly and seamlessly. As your retail staff learn how to run transactions, accept returns, and print reports, your store’s online customers won’t notice a thing. And a single backend ensures your inventory counts are accurate everywhere, in real-time. Customers can pay however and wherever they want, which means happier shoppers, more sales, and higher revenues.