With all of the payment technology options available to small business owners, finding the right POS system for your retail business can be tricky.

Each system offers a unique set of seemingly useful features and more often than not, serves a specific vertical(s). Before diving into those, you’ll want to understand the big picture: how it works, how easy it is to implement, what it provides, and if it comes with good support. Below you’ll find a high-level approach to understanding what makes each POS system a good or bad choice for your business. As you search, these are the overarching points that you’ll to want to pay attention to.

Transaction Time

When you’re new to point of sale, most systems that you come across will feel like they operate fairly well and reasonably quickly. Coming from a cash register or not having previously owned a business at all, any POS software will feel like a solid choice at first. However, the speed of your transactions – or lack thereof – will have a huge impact on your business in more ways than one.

One thing that people surely don’t have much patience for at a small business is long lines. As a shopper, you come to expect it at large retailers but not at your local neighborhood shop. A fast and reliable POS system will help you fly through your busy periods throughout the day. Even a tiny stall in each transaction will add up and cost you money in the long run.

User-Friendly Interface

One of the biggest drawbacks of point of sale for many small business owners is the learning curve. Even though POS systems have become a lot more commercialized and common, there are still many small businesses that believe that they’re ‘keeping it simple’ by sticking with their old cash register. That may be true in some cases, but the right POS software is in fact, the real way of ‘keeping it simple’ at your store. Take ShopKeep customer, Marnie Ives at Kron Chocolatier for example. She found that by switching to a POS system, they drastically reduced common errors made by employees on their cash register.

If your POS software isn’t simple and user-friendly, you will lose money by spending copious amounts of time training your staff and accounting for their mistakes along the way. A user-friendly system will drastically increase the transaction speed and save you money, and create a better experience for your customers.

Accurate and Timely Data

What’s the point of investing your hard-earned money on POS software if you can’t depend on the reports and the data that it provides? After all, that is the purpose of one, right? We’ve previously outlined the ways that you can use your POS software to better control your inventory, but if your reports don’t reflect the correct information or your system doesn’t provide the data in real-time, then it’s not very useful. Not to mention, with the advent of cloud technology now available to small businesses at affordable prices, if you can’t access your data where and when you want it, then it’s really not very beneficial.

Security

We’ve all seen the news stories and statistics regarding retail fraud, beginning at the point of sale system. Fraud is a major issue in the US in particular, and it’s partly due to the lack of proper security measures built into many point of sale systems. Many POS companies are now developing better hardware and software features to address these concerns. You don’t have to be a security expert to choose a relatively secure POS solution if you just look for some key things. For starters, you should make sure that your system is PCI compliant, and that the card reader or terminal encrypts the data at the point of swipe. With new technologies like mobile wallets that use tokenization and NFC contactless payments, you should look for a system that provides the hardware to accept these types of secure transactions. In October of 2015, the major card companies are all issuing new cards and passing a motion for retailers to accept EMV chip cards for added security. At this point, your POS system should absolutely be addressing these things and providing you the necessary equipment to accept them.

Support

Whether you choose the simplest, most basic card reader or your traditional computer-style point of sale system with all of the bells and whistles, you will need customer support at some point. What most business owners fail to realize is that when your business is in full swing, you will be wearing way too many hats to dedicate time to troubleshooting POS issues. The worst thing is, because your business is dependent on taking sales, a POS problem is not one of those things that you can put off or even delegate to someone else most of the time. On the other hand, the great news is that with the internet and customer reviews sites everywhere, it isn’t very difficult to find out whether or not the company that you’re considering provides good service.

 

About the Author

Paul Nugent is a small business advocate, and Head of Marketing at ShopKeep point of sale’s UK headquarters. Paul uses his background in the startup space, along with his POS system expertise, to allow small business owners to make informed decisions within their specific budgets.