Choosing the right POS system
Researching point of sale systems can be overwhelming, but making the right choice now can save you a ton of time and money later.
Here are some points to consider when choosing the right POS system:
Ease of Use
Your POS software should be easy to set up and simple to use
You should always receive expert care when you need it most
Your POS software should have simple pay-as-you-go pricing
The POS system you choose today shouldn’t be obsolete tomorrow
Your POS software should generate detailed sales reports
You should be able to access your data anytime and anywhere via the cloud
Your POS data should always be safe and secure
Your POS system's hardware should be functional, durable, and stylish
Ease of Use
Your point of sale system should be easy to set up and simple to use. You'll want a point of sale 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. A 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 point of sale system for your small business. Though uncommon, from time to time your POS 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, and you should be guided through your initial setup.
Simple & Affordable Pricing
'Back in the day', the cost of a POS system was exorbitant. This prevented smaller businesses from replacing their archaic cash registers. It was not unusual for point of sale systems to require an initial investment of well over $10,000 before adding in the additional costs of required hardware upgrades, service calls, and warranty upsells.
Back then, the cost of a modern POS was often prohibitive. Here's the good news: many of today's POS systems offer affordable and flexible options. The power is now in the hands of business owners when it comes to finding their perfect point of sale system, at the right price.
As technology is evolving at a breakneck pace, make sure the point of sale system you choose today won't become obsolete tomorrow. One trend that is quickly becoming the norm with cloud-based POS software is mobile payments — predicted to overtake credit card payments in less than a decade.
Point of sale 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.
While all point of sale systems provide small business owners with sales data to some degree, the capabilities and clarity of a system's reporting platform are not all created equally. Your point of sale 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.
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 point of sale 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 point of sale 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 point of sale 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 and save you time and patience in the long run. Finally, be sure not to ignore the importance of having both a supremely ergonomic 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.