A retail point of sale (POS) system is one of the most crucial investments small and medium-sized businesses can make. As a result, earning how to choose a POS system can make or break your business’ success.

Unlike old cash registers, POS systems streamline business processes, control cash flow, and track inventory. They also provide important data that you can use to improve your return on investment and enhance the customer experience. Essentially, a quality point of sale system is key to the modern retail business success. Most are easy to use, portable, extremely fast, and very useful. However, due to the variety of options available in the market, choosing the right POS system can prove to be a challenging process. Here are some key tips on how to choose a retail POS.

Understand the Needs of Your Business

Most POS systems can easily track and keep the ongoing activities in inventory and sales of your small business, but modern systems have more to offer your business. It is therefore very important to understand the needs of your business, whether that be inventory management or employee management needs or accounting software integration.

Features and Capabilities

Quality is an essential factor to consider when it comes to choosing the right retail POS system for your small business. Any high-quality POS system is designed for continuous use for any small, medium, and large business environment. Some POS software may be less expensive, but ultimately won’t have the robust capabilities you are looking for. If shortcomings with your POS software become a problem to the extent that you’re losing sales, that is a major red flag. Nothing — not even a little extra cash in your pocket — is worth irritating customers and losing out on sales.


A modern POS system should be advanced and flexible enough to support leading software applications. However, as stated earlier, you must first consider the specific needs of your business and invest in a system that meets them. Besides choosing a small business POS system that supports the latest integrations and payment processing methods, you must consider CRM tools for managing customers, loyalty programs, and security. It is true that every business is unique, but your business should still take various functionalities into consideration.

Obtain Product References

Don’t go ahead with the purchase until you get at least three references. Requesting references will give you an opportunity to visit a small business and see the POS system in action. Make sure that these businesses are using a similar version of the software you are evaluating. Ask them how the system works and whether they included the capabilities explained on the POS provider’s website.

Outside of the software’s functionality, you’ll also want to inquire into the costs of the system, how it handles transactions, payment processing, reporting, inventory tracking, and more. If possible speak to a variety of staff members as well. Business owners that spend most of their time looking at sales reporting, payment reports, and other back office tools might have a dramatically different opinion of the system than a cashier that runs transactions all day.

Lastly, you’ll also want to take stock of the POS hardware. How does it look in the shop? Could you see it in your business? Does the hardware appear functional and reliable or are there issues? Are all of the hardware components you wanted supported by the POS system.

Customer Support

You will definitely lose money any time your POS system is down, so it is an absolute must to choose a system that provides real-time technical support. Although most POS support systems require small business owners to leave a message and wait for a response, the best small business POS systems will provide immediate support 24/7.

This is doubly important if you’re using one of the POS companies that also acts as a payment processor. Credit card processor functionality is very different from native POS features and functionality so you’ll want to ensure the level of support is the same for each. Savvy retailers know the pain that comes from processor issues all to well and make every effort to guard against it.

how to choose a POS retail small business

Weigh Functionality Against Ease of Use

Generally speaking, the more complicated your business operations, the more POS system features you will need. With the right pos software in place, managing your retail business should be painless and straightforward. If your new system offers little more than a basic cash register, you’re likely lacking critical POS features you’ll need as your business grows. However, consider the time required to train employees to be up to speed with the new system. Training both managers and cashiers should take minimal time.

Research Pricing

Depending on the capabilities you need and the size of your retail business, the cost of POS systems differ. Be sure to go with a POS provider that offers clear, competitive pricing, including customized rates for your business. Beware of POS vendors that may mask subscription costs by forcing you to use a certain credit card processing service. A quality POS provider will offer you the option to select your own processor or use theirs if you choose. Make sure to read the fine print and focus on providers with the most transparent pricing.

SEE ALSO: How to Accept Credit Card Payments – The Ultimate Guide

Forgo the One-Size-Fits-All POS

There is not a single POS system that fits perfectly for any type of retail business. The retail industry is a diverse market with unique needs. So, find a POS system specific to your business industry, or at least offers the functionalities for a variety of verticals. The unique features it provides should automate the distinct needs of your retail business. This will provide you with a better return on investment as compared to choosing a one-size-fits-all POS system.

Try Before You Buy

Before you buy any POS system, please make sure it is easy to use, has the right functionality, meets your business needs, and has the right security standards. If there’s one available, make an effort to use the free trial version of the POS system in question yourself. If that isn’t an option, consider scheduling a product demonstration to see it in action. Most importantly, make sure the basic functionalities are straightforward — no need to train your employees for days.

Get Employee Input

The worst mistake retail business owners do is setting up their POS system without involving employees. There is nothing as bad as making your customer wait, while your employee is making a mess. Let your employees become familiar with your new POS system before using it with customers. Even if you picked an easy-to-use software, you will still have trouble if your employees are not involved.

SEE ALSO: Choosing the Right POS System

Ideally, buying a POS system is an investment that can significantly impact the success and efficiency of your retail business. However, there are many options on the market for POS systems, making it a confusing process. Don’t waste money and time on retail POS systems that won’t help your business.

Yamarie Grullon

Yamarie Grullon has years of experience creating helpful & engaging content for small business owners. As Director of Content Strategy at ShopKeep, a leading iPad Point of Sale System, Yamarie provides merchants with practical advice on all things related to business or point of sale.