Over the years, small businesses have had to continually adapt to keep up with the needs of their customers and compete with big business. With all of that to worry about, it can be very hard for a small business to survive.
In fact, of the 28.8 million small businesses in the U.S., about 20 percent of them (5,760,000) will close within their first year. But with the right technology and systems in place, a business can beat the odds and become something great.
One tool that can totally transform how your business functions is its point of sale (POS) system. Used correctly, it can become the central hub of your business. But not just any POS will do. A cloud POS system is now the solution of choice for many small business owners due to its power to streamline their everyday operations.
Types of POS Systems
If the idea of adding a POS to your business sounds appealing, the first thing you’ll want to know is that there are two distinct types: on-premise POS systems and cloud POS systems. The one you choose can have serious ramifications for your business, so let’s look at each in greater detail.
On-Premise POS Systems
With an on-premise POS system, you install your POS software on a server that’s physically located within the walls of your business. This server also stores all of the business data that’s generated by the POS. Because of this, you can’t access any of your data unless you’re physically within your store, restaurant, or place of business. This is a very traditional way to deliver software, and it’s a method employed by many large retail stores or restaurants that bought systems years ago.
You’ve certainly seen this before; just picture the cash registers you see used by cashiers at large scale department stores. Typically, this kind of setup includes a computer with a monitor that might have a touch screen, and a keyboard sitting on top of its cash drawer.
Cloud-Based POS Systems
On the other hand, a cloud POS system stores all of your small business information in the cloud. The cloud is a buzzword for a remote data center. Basically, instead of the software living on a server in your physically business, it’s hosted in a building full of servers that your POS vendor operates or leases from a third-party like Amazon Web Services. As far as devices, a cloud POS can work on everything from a desktop or laptop computer to a more compact and mobile platforms like an iPad or tablet.
When you choose a cloud POS that runs on mobile hardware like a tablet, it’s referred to as a mobile POS (mPOS). This type of system is typically the most modern and cutting-edge. Because of this, mPOS systems tend to give you the best blend of power, usability, and affordability.
Whether you choose a mPOS or a more traditional cloud POS, your entire store is at your fingertips. You can use any device with an internet connection to log into your software to view analytics, manage inventory, configure your POS, and generally run your business. As far as your customer-facing hardware goes, each of the different components needed to complete a transaction: a cash drawer, barcode scanner, credit card swiper, and more, can now be connected wirelessly to your new display: an iPad or Android tablet.
Why a Cloud POS?
Cloud POS systems are cheaper and faster than their predecessors. However, one of the main reasons the cloud is better is its availability. As we just mentioned, whether you’re home, on vacation, or just a few feet away from the register, a business owner can do everything from inventory tracking to looking at sales reports. Along with that, there are a few reasons why a cloud POS benefits specific types of businesses.
Be prepared for the long lines this holiday season. Put a cashier out on the sales floor, ready to accept debit or credit card payments via the store’s iPad. This method splits the line and reduces your customers’ wait time.
In a restaurant setting, the front and back-of-house need to be in constant communication. But with so much going on at once, like multiple food and drink orders to prepare, not everyone can use the same POS at the same time. With a cloud-based solution, transactions and orders can easily transfer from one system to another so staff can start a drink order at the bar and end with a food order at another POS terminal. There’s no need to print out paper slips or try to read handwritten order details. Plus, most systems allow you to send orders directly back to the kitchen. This helps cut down on mistakes and food waste.
A cloud POS usually features modern software. For your cashiers, this means that your cloud POS will be more user-friendly than an on-premise system. This makes it easy to handle complex custom orders quickly so you can keep your line moving and customers happy.
Is a Cloud POS System Best for Your Business?
One of the main reasons you may look for a cloud POS instead of an on-premise one is the lower cost. Traditional, on-premise POS systems can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars more than cloud systems.
For an entrepreneur, especially a small business owner, this can be a huge blow. It has already been estimated that the initial cost of starting a business from scratch is over $30,000, now add several thousand dollars more to that, and you can see why many new business owners are choosing the cloud.
Here are a few of the other reasons a cloud POS is often the better option:
Save Space and Stay Organized
Instead of a large computer and monitor setup along with your other equipment to process transactions, you have an iPad and a few peripherals like a cash drawer and credit card reader. There are no wires running all over your floors. And your POS hardware will easily fit on most countertops.
It’s More Convenient
A cloud POS is accessible from anywhere you have an internet connection, which gives you the power to manage your business at home, on-the-go, or even when you’re on vacation. With an on-premise POS, you’re limited to working from within your physical business.
There’s no need for the customer to go to the register if the register can come to them. With a cloud-based system, you can turn a mobile device into a mobile POS. Purchases can be made anywhere inside or outside your store (as long as you’re within WiFi range). This can be especially important for a retail business, where customers satisfaction can be dependent on the ease of the transaction.
Due to the power of modern technology, cloud POS systems are updated far more frequently and easily than on-premise systems. Not to mention that many traditional POS systems require you to buy a new license if you want to get the latest version of their software. With a cloud POS, you will always have the latest updates, making your system more powerful and more secure.
Get Customer Service for Less
With cloud POS systems, customer service is usually included in the monthly price of the software. The customer service team is almost always directly employed by the vendor, and support is often available 24/7. On-premise systems usually require an owner to pay extra for support. Normally you can choose from a few different support packages. For example, you might have the option to either get a year of support up front or pay for support on an hourly basis. The benefit of the latter scenario is that you only pay for the hours you use. In some instances, your customer support team might be employed by a third-party vendor like a POS system reseller.
Better Data Security
With an off-site data center housing your critical business data, it’s protected if anything happens to your storefront like a fire, flood, or other accident.
If anything, using a cloud POS makes your business look modern and trendy. Even though they are becoming increasingly popular, customers are still used to the old cash register set up. The novelty of completing a transaction via a tablet will impress some of your customers, and that could be reason enough to upgrade.
Why ShopKeep Is A Great Choice for Many Small Businesses
If you’re sold on the idea that a cloud POS is right for your business, you’re likely ready to start looking at vendors. In our opinion (call us biased if you must) ShopKeep is a great cloud POS for most businesses. ShopKeep encompasses all of the major benefits of cloud POS systems, plus a few unique qualities that are unique to us.
Powerful Business Management Capabilities
ShopKeep’s BackOffice software is the component of ShopKeep where you can manage major parts of your business. Different from our register app, you access BackOffice from your computer, and use it to complete tasks like customizing your POS menu, managing inventory, and checking sales reports. With BackOffice in your back pocket, you have a powerful tool that gives you detailed insight and control over your business, allowing you to make smarter decisions and run your business more efficiently.
24/7/365 Customer Support
As a company started by a former small business owner, we understand that issues don’t always happen during regular business hours. That’s why ShopKeep features 24/7/365 free support so there’s always someone available to help you out if you have an issue. Better yet, our team is available by phone call, online chat, text message, or web ticket; there’s always a way to get in touch.
Monitor Your Business on the Go
The ShopKeep Pocket mobile app makes sure you’re always aware of what’s going on with your business. Check your sales performance, inventory levels, and other critical business information from your phone, wherever you are.
Ease of Use
Unlike other POS systems, ShopKeep places a premium on ease of use. It’s one of the core tenets that guides which new features we build, as well as how we build them. This ensures that you have a system that keeps up with the latest trends without ever making you feel lost or confused.
Don’t Worry About Your Internet Connection
While some aspects of ShopKeep do rely on the internet, your entire operation won’t come to a halt if you lose your connection. We support offline credit card transactions so you can keep making sales even if you have internet issues.
Like most small business owners, we bet you’re using a variety of tools to run your business. One of the great things about ShopKeep is that we integrate with many of the most popular choices. Whether you use QuickBooks for accounting, BigCommerce for eCommerce, or MailChimp for marketing, integrating these tools with ShopKeep helps you run a more successful business.
Keep Your Information Safe
We understand how important it is that you and your customers’ data is safe and secure. That’s why we encrypt all payment and credit card data automatically, keeping you safe from malicious hackers and data breaches.
At the end of the day, the choice is yours, but we feel confident recommending a cloud POS system for the vast majority of businesses. The combination of power, affordability, and convenience that these systems offer makes them hard to beat. If you’re looking to upgrade an existing business or start a new one on the right foot, a cloud POS system is definitely worth considering.