Advice for young entrepreneurs, by young entrepreneurs

Benjamin Constable is the CEO of FreshBox, a social enterprise addressing the lack of healthy produce available to rural communities in Durban, South Africa. By working with local farmers, FreshBox supplies fresh produce to at risk infants in communities where malnutirition is high.

This week Benjamin takes the time to talk to Ye! about how integrating their POS system helped FreshBox scale their business to reach the maximum number of clients.

FreshBox "Time is Money and Money Changes Society"

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Integrating POS systems to scale your business

When pursuing a vision, protect your time. The more time you have to innovate and build, the more your chances of success will grow. Starting a social enterprise is no different. Time is money, money is a resource and the more resources you can generate, the greater impact you have on the people you are trying to help.

This concept is the lifeblood of our South African social enterprise. FreshBox, knows the more time we can liberate for ourselves, the more FreshBoxes we can sell and the more at-risk children we can feed. We use the buy one give one model. We are, “The Toms Shoes of food.” For each FreshBox sold, we donate another to a nutritionally at-risk child. Our impact equals the number of FreshBoxes sold, which in turn is equal to the amount of time we can dedicate to marketing and promoting our vision.

We are chronically aware of time. We don’t want to spend it on nitty gritty administrative tasks. We want automated systems so we can spend time pushing our vision “Eat For Everyone.” We want our systems to protect our time. We targeted our point of sale (POS) system early, and realised quickly how essential this was to our scalability.

POS stands for Point of Sale. This system is usually a combination of hardware and software. A POS system allows the business to process transactions, simplifying daily operations. The hardware and software components may differ based upon the needs of the enterprise. A POS system allows businesses to manage daily operations and client data all within one synchronized and automated system. The purpose of a POS system is to provide maximum efficiency with minimum effort.

The hardware elements of a point of sale system may include cash register, card reader, and receipt printer. While the software elements of a POS system usually feature sales reporting, customer management, inventory management, and employee management. Many businesses use different tools for each of these functions. By integrating a POS system to automate tasks, manage inventory, and streamline the sales process, business owners can use one system to manage operations within their enterprise.

When you are a small business, doing accounts for twenty customers is frustrating but doable. But doing accounts for 1,000 customers is not scalable nor sustainable! It will suck time away from other important tasks and distract from innovation. POS systems need to be automated to increase efficiency.

This was central to our e-commerce POS design. We needed to automate as many tasks as possible, to liberate our time. Our goal was to spend as little time inputting information and as much time as possible pushing our message to the public, “Eat For Everyone.” We know the less time we spend administrating the more time we can spend on marketing. This means reaching more people and disbursing more FreshBoxes, which means more children fed. Simple math.

Our e-commerce system automates tasks. It auto-bills the customer monthly, it integrates directly into our accounting system (Xero), it feeds directly into our packing facility with the click of a button, and it alerts customers when they need to update their credit card.

All these tasks protect our time. Prior to integrating out POS system, one day a week had to be spent managing our books. This time is now spent speaking in-front of high school parents, encouraging them to get on board with our message and “Eat For Everyone.” We now dedicate more time to pushing our digital marketing strategy instead of standing in line at the bank.

A POS system can do more than protect your time. It can protect your customers time too, adding value to their experience with your services and business and improving the overall customer service experience.

During checkout, we ask customers about their fruit and vegetable preferences so we can easily customise every FreshBox we deliver to each customer. We sign them up to a subscription, auto-billing them monthly, and hence saving them the time of continually signing up. We also set up trigger emails to remind them that their FreshBox has arrived.

In this busy, modern world you need more time than you ever have available! This means time is extremely valuable for you and your customers. The more time your POS system can liberate, the more people your social enterprise will engage and the further your message will go.  

To learn more about FreshBox visit their website www.freshbox.co.za

To find tools which can help you synchronize and optimize your business operations visit the Ye! Community Tools pages. 

Benjamin Constrable is the CEO of Freshbox, a not-for-profit organization that delivers weekly supplies of quality fruit and vegetables. Proceeds are sent in the form of bulk produce to nutritionally at-risk children. He is a member of the Ye! Community and a contributor to the Ye! Blog.

Photos courtesy of Freeimages.com and Benjamin Constable

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