Mar 18, 2016Farm markets switch to point-of-sale systems
Technology is transforming farms in the field, with the use of automated vehicles and drones. Technology is making its way to the agritourism side of farming, too. For example, farm markets are switching from regular cash registers to upgraded point-of- sale (POS) systems operated on tablets.
For Tom Tweite, owner of Tweite’s Family Farm in Byron, Minnesota, upgrading the point-of-sale system was about more than just improving the sales process. Tweite was looking for something that would give him the information needed to make daily decisions and adjustments.
“We’re a very seasonal business,” Tweite said. “We really need to have our ducks in a row. I wanted to have something very simple and that could be modified within 30 seconds to a minute.”
Tweite’s Family Farm operates 15 days out of the year, open mostly weekends from the middle of September through the end of October. Tweite spent about two and a half years researching POS systems, server providers and credit card processors to fit the needs of the farm’s short season. A demo and two-hour consultation with a Talech representative sold Tweite on the system. This fall will be Tweite’s third season using Talech.
“It gives us a picture of what’s happening to the minute,” Tweite said. “We can look into our system, see what’s happening at every station that has one of these systems.”
From inventory to crowd flow, Talech allows Tweite to follow the farm’s activity to make adjustments as needed. Talech allows Tweite’s employees to use the POS system as a time clock. Special discounts and orders can be added to transactions from one register to another. The system also monitors inventory as sales are processed, alerting Tweite of top-selling items, register balances and more. For example, Tweite can use Talech to monitor sales of his $8 pumpkins, so when he’s running low he can restock or order more before he’s sold out. For Tweite, the ability to see up-to-the- minute activity at each register allows him to better understand what’s going on overall.
“If we have X amount of people that have already purchased an entry ticket at 11:15 in the morning, we know a certain percentage will go in (for lunch) and purchase a hot meal. We can relay that information to concession so that they can be prepared.”
This past season, Tweite added a couple new tablets, and plans on adding new chip readers to his tablets for the upcoming season.
Located just outside of Montreal, Canada, La Ferme Quinn operates from Feb. 27 through Dec. 24. Reducing time spent on bookkeeping and being able to check sales from any given day are the most important aspects of the ShopKeep POS system Stephanie Quinn uses at the farm.
Quinn, who runs the farm with her husband, uses ShopKeep’s reports of sales activities, such as average sale value and top-selling items, to monitor customer trends. Quinn can go back and look at the number sold of a specific item on a particular day, and use that information to know how many she should order for that same time of year.
ShopKeep allows Quinn to preprogram barcodes and weights into the POS system for the farm’s sales areas. This eliminates having to have the cashiers remember prices or PLUs on items, Quinn said.
“In our store, we are set up with barcode scanners and scales to handle the large variety of products quickly and accurately,” Quinn said. “Most packaged items (jams, pies, toys, etc.) have barcodes. Things like tomatoes and peppers are weighed. We preprogram the price per weight, so cashiers press the tomato button and enter the weight. In our Snack Barn, where we serve lunch, we have limited offerings, so we use buttons on the screen that are preprogrammed. Same in the ticket booth; there are fewer options, so a few buttons suffice.”
Although Quinn doesn’t have a way of comparing transaction lengths, she estimates transaction times have greatly decreased since switching to ShopKeep. Quinn, who lives 45 minutes away from the farm, takes advantage of ShopKeep’s Pocket smartphone app to keep track of sales from home.
“My husband and I often review our day in the car ride home,” Quinn said. “It’s great to pull up a summary of the day so we know immediately how we did.”
Tweite and Quinn say upgrading to any of the many point-of-sale systems available can help farm owners make better and more accurate decisions quickly, with all the information need at their fingertips.
— Ana Olvera, digital content editor