Point of Sale Systems Help Conquer Fear of Computers

“Cyberphobia” is loosely defined as the fear of computers or working on one. Coined in 1985, the term more broadly describes the anxiety caused by working with any kind of technology. Believe it or not, even today when nearly everyone carries a smartphone, some people still have a morbid fear of computers.

Symptoms can range from simply avoiding them, to physical stress, paranoia and a feeling of doom. For entrepreneurs looking to start or build a business, a comprehensive point of sale (POS) system and dynamic digital management solution can alleviate a fear of computers and is practically a necessity for success.

Paranoia by the Numbers

As of December, Internet World Stats show that over half (54.4% or approximately 4.2 billion) of humans utilize the internet at either home or work. In North America, 95% of us peruse the Worldwide Web for either business or pleasure.

Those numbers make some of these cyberphobic small business statistics seem almost incomprehensible.

Yodle, a business marketing firm says:

A

More than half of small businesses (500 employees or less), which comprise 99% of all businesses in the United States, still don’t have a website, and 90% of those don’t have a mobile-friendly site. That’s crucial to commerce, because in today’s mobile society, according to a Pew Research Center study, mobile devices account for over half of the webpage views in the U.S.

A

More than half of independent business owners utilize technology for accounting, but less than 40% use it to assist with booking and scheduling.

A

Only 34% use it for customer relations management.

A

And a minuscule 14% use it for acquisition marketing.

While some of these numbers can be chalked up to procrastination or expense, some it is just plain old fear of computers and the world in which they operate. A Gallup poll a few years ago showed that Americans are more worried about having their financial information hacked (62%) than they are about having their home burglarized (45%), being a victim of terrorism (28%) or even murdered (18%). Emphasizing the cyberphobia, the second most feared crime (62%) is having a computer or smartphone hacked. Those numbers have waned in recent years, but the fear of computers and cybercrime remain significant.

The Only Thing to Fear is Fear Itself

As humankind relies more and more on computerization and the Artificial Intelligence (AI) that is coming with it – a recent Gallup poll shows as many as 85% of American consumers use AI-powered devices or services – a new level of cyberphobia is being established. Elon Musk, chief executive officer of automobile manufacturer and energy company Tesla and SpaceX, has been decrying AI as humanity’s biggest threat for years.

“I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So, we need to be very careful,” Musk said at an MIT symposium in 2014. “I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish.”

Oddly, this is the same man who more recently has proposed creating a working interface between computers and the human brain. His premise is that people already enhance their intelligence with smartphone technology – internet searches. So why not create a direct flow from the internet to the brain?

Putting POS to Work

Those fears aside, one of the first steps for merchants in getting over a fear of computers is understanding what they can and can’t do for a business. According to PointofSale.com, a news and information source for retailers,

Computers and a dynamic point of sale system can:

Replace the cash register.

A computer and accompanying digital business management solution can record customer sales more thoroughly than a register, and, properly utilized, can manage other business processes as well.

Track inventory.

Point of sale systems can keep track of tens of thousands of SKUs, automate inventory reorders through electronic data exchange (EDI), and intuitively manage stocking levels to maximize a business’ investment according to seasonality or customer demand.

Track customer sales.

Not only can point of sale solutions track which customers are buying the most stock, they can provide year-to-date reports that show customer spending patterns.

Computerization can’t:

A

Computers don’t run themselves

Business owners either must become intimately familiar with their digital partners, or assign or hire somebody to do it. Which means they must conquer a fear of computers and the internet.

A

Immediately reduce workload

Installing computers and a digital management solution will take some effort. Some of the more thorough POS companies will custom-fit the system to the store’s needs, and send mentors or technicians out to handle installation and training. They will also convert and install a company’s data on the system and provide 24/7 support.

A

Fix a poorly run business

Disorganization before computerization will still be disorganized afterward. Garbage in, garbage out.

Digital Fix

A dynamic digital solution and point of sale system can transform any retail business. It just has to be a good fit.

“It has been a phenomenal opportunity to make us more organized,” says Wanda McCullers, who, along with husband Clint, owns Farmers Feed Service, Inc. in Wetumpka, Alabama. Their incorporation of Paladin digital solutions and a point of sale system moved their company from the dark ages of hand-written receipts and manual inventory counts to a 21st Century automated business management system “Over the years when we’ve had opportunities to grow, we weren’t organized which really hampered our ability to grow. Another disadvantage to that manual inventory process is throughout the year we had no idea where our business stood. Can I hire another employee? Can we buy this piece of equipment that we need? I had no clue.”

Wanda says the Paladin system answered all those questions and provided the digital solutions and knowledge that gives them a firm handle on all aspects of their business.

Business.com says a good point of sale system should provide:

Online management

The system should have integrations that combine inventory tracking for physical and eCommerce stores.

Multi-store capabilities

Even if a business is at a single location, growth is always the goal and expansion is always a possibility. A POS system should be scalable to meet business growth.

Jean Iennaco, director of operations for Over the Top Cake Supplies in San Antonio, Texas, tells Business.com: “We have four locations. I can be anywhere and help them out if there are issues. For example, I can check on locations by going into reporting and offering advice on ways to increase sales for the month. It’s user-friendly and convenient for having multiple locations.”

Third-party integrations

A comprehensive POS system can work with other programs to provide end-to-end business management solutions. Integrations with bookkeeping, inventory management that includes automated ordering, customer rewards and relations management, and marketing can all be handled through a strong point of sale system.

Inventory management

The foundation of a point of sale system is its ability to track inventory from order through sales. Some feature predictive algorithms that, through past sales cycles, forecast customer demand for products. Some also feature EDI which automatically places orders with designated suppliers. This automation frees merchants to spend less time on inventory control and more time with customers, and it eliminates ordering errors.

“We needed a computer system. We needed a point of sale. Because the inventory is such an important component of that financial statement, if you don’t have a current inventory total it’s nearly impossible to make business decisions. You’re really going on the fly,” McCullers says, explaining why she and Clint chose a Paladin point of sale system. “We appreciate the flexibility of this system and the difference it has made for our customers as well as our employees.

“Some of our employees were terrified of computers. Once we got this system, some of them got home computers and internet service and now they use them at home. So, this has been a great opportunity for growth for our employees as well.”

Employee management

Some point of sale systems allow merchants to monitor employee productivity through sales activity reports.

“One of my employees swore he would never operate a computer. He now teaches me how to do point of sale transactions,” says Lance Cox, owner of Coos Curry Supply on the southern Oregon Coast.

Omnichannel experience

As the retail environment evolves, many businesses need to meld the shopping experiences and record keeping of their digital and physical stores. Comprehensive point of sale systems allow merchants to seamlessly track sales from both their bricks-and-mortar stores and eCommerce sites.

Through mobile technology and geofencing capabilities, merchants can identify shoppers outside their stores and send them targeted marketing messages to smartphones to get them to come in. Once inside the stores, rewards program customers can receive special discounts and product information messages on their mobile phones through Bluetooth beacons.

Putting a Fear of Computers to Rest

For all the electronic magic point of sale systems and their fancy integrations perform, their foundation is built on collecting customer data and using it to help merchants smooth their operations and growth their businesses. This data, which experts now consider as valuable as any retail asset, includes customer names, purchase frequency and payment history, demographic and contact information, and more.

All this information is distilled, refined and used to automate business processes, fuel customer loyalty programs, and create new marketing campaigns. For merchants interested in streamlining operations and growing their businesses, fear of computers is nothing to be afraid of at all.

Brian Bullock

Author