“Before founding ShopKeep POS in 2008, I started four retail businesses in New York City. I learned that the right POS system can make or break your business. That's why effectively researching POS systems now can save you a ton of time and money down the road.”
Your POS system should be easy to set up and simple to use
You should always receive expert care when you need it most
The POS system you choose today shouldn’t be obsolete tomorrow
Your POS system should have simple pay-as-you-go pricing
Your POS system should generate detailed sales reports
You should be able to access your data any time and anywhere via the cloud
Your POS system's data should always be safe and secure
Your POS system hardware should be functional, durable, and stylish
Your POS system should be easy to set up and simple to use. You’ll want a POS system with an intuitive interface to process sales quickly and keep lines moving. Training cashiers and managers should take minutes, not hours. Managing inventory should be straightforward and painless. Remember that any POS system that’s confusing to learn or complicated to use will decrease employee satisfaction and waste time that could be better spent elsewhere.
Be sure to ask about customer care when considering a POS system. Though uncommon, from time to time your POS system may experience issues. Without the ability to call someone to help you fix the problem quickly, you could lose sales. Likewise, any issues related to financial transactions may require immediate answers. Or what if you just want more help understanding a specific feature or setting up a barcode scanner? You shouldn’t have to go it alone! As the most important tool in your store, any questions about your POS system should be answered in a timely manner without additional charges for support or troubleshooting.
As technology is evolving at a breakneck pace, make sure the POS system you choose today won’t become obsolete tomorrow. Two trends fast becoming reality are mobile payments and cloud-based software delivery and data storage. Mobile payments are predicted to overtake credit card payments in less than a decade. Mobile loyalty programs are becoming more common in the retail and hospitality environments.
POS systems that expect to be relevant in the years ahead must be built on a flexible platform that supports these mobile integrations. Cloud-based POS systems eliminate the need for costly upgrades and any security concerns associated with traditional client-server systems. Frequent software updates are necessary so your system always has the latest features and security requirements. These updates should be free for the lifetime of your account.
Your POS System should be prepared for the emergence of future technologies like mobile payments
The cost of a POS system has historically been very high, preventing smaller businesses from replacing their cash registers. For years, POS systems typically required an initial investment of several thousand dollars, with many solutions costing well over $10,000. Add in the additional costs of required hardware upgrades, service calls, and warranty upsells and you can see why the cost was often prohibitive.
Today’s SaaS (software as a service) subscription model makes getting a POS system affordable, but the true costs are sometimes hidden in the details. Your POS system should have simple pay-as-you-go monthly pricing without long term agreements or cancellation fees. Be aware that some POS vendors may mask subscription costs by forcing you to use a certain credit card processor. Transparent no-nonsense pricing is the hallmark of a reputable company.
While all POS systems give you sales data to some degree, the capabilities and clarity of a system’s reporting platform are not all created equally. Your POS system should be able to generate detailed sales reports that not only identify your best selling items and returns, but record margins and measure the effectiveness of your pricing.
Insist on a POS system that can track sales by department, item, and hour so you can adjust staffing accordingly and allocate floor space more efficiently. And while detailed exportable reports will be useful for accounting purposes, as an owner or manager you may prefer to use on-screen reports and charts for easy-to-grasp snapshot views.
Your POS system should be able to generate detailed sales reports based on department, item and hour
Recording sales and inventory data is a given, but having that information accessible where and when you want it is a real game changer. Traditional POS systems that require reports to be run from an in-store terminal aren’t useful when you’re at home, traveling, or simply anywhere outside of your store. The advent of cloud-based POS systems means your back office operations can now be accessible from any web browser, even if you’re halfway around the world on vacation. Additionally, the most convenient and tech-savvy POS systems will include smartphone apps that allow business owners to see real-time sales data in the palm of their hand.
Data safety and security should be among the first factors you think about in the choice of your POS system. So when considering your options, you need to make sure to investigate the security of your data in every system, particularly around transactions. And with a number of recent high-profile hacking incidents, this issue is more relevant than ever. In order to stay safe, your POS system should never store customer credit card numbers and all transactions should be fully encrypted. Also, while traditional POS systems running on PC-based computers are vulnerable to viruses and malware, a cloud-based iPad system is virtually impenetrable, allowing you to rest assured knowing your customers' data won't be compromised.
The hardware that accompanies your POS system should be functional, durable, and stylish. Some POS vendors pair their software with second-rate hardware and peripherals to piece together the cheapest package. As a small business owner, the last thing you want to do is waste time struggling with a constantly jammed printer or flimsy stand that does not withstand your daily grind at the counter.
Quality hardware will pay for itself in short order and save you time and patience in the long run. Finally, be sure not to ignore the importance of having both a supremely ergonomical and elegantly designed stand. As one of the most visible elements in your business, the physical display should match the decor of your shop and streamline transactions for cashiers and customers alike.
Your POS System should only offer hardware from quality, tried-and-tested vendors