CHOOSING THE RIGHT POS SYSTEM
Researching and choosing a POS system can be overwhelming, but making the right choice can save you a ton of time and money.
What to Look for in a POS System
Ease of Use and Simplicity
On the surface, most point of sale systems promise the same basic functionality: The ability to accept payments, track sales, manage inventory, and keep track of customer data.
While POS software features that help streamline operations are essential, both hardware and software should be designed with efficiency, effectiveness, and ease-of-use in mind. If your POS system is complicated to navigate, it doesn’t matter how many bells and whistles it has.
Processing transactions, training staff, inventory management, and accessing insights, are amongst the key features that should take you minutes, not hours to perform. A complicated POS solution will further disrupt your workflow. The ideal POS system saves you time and money by simplifying your day-to-day operations.
A cloud-based POS software solution is by its very nature flexible in design. As a result, POS providers that offer cloud-based technology tend to enhance the product on an ongoing basis, often at no added cost to the merchant. With technology evolving at a breakneck pace, adopting cloud-based point of sale technology ensures that the system you choose today won't become obsolete tomorrow.
An added benefit of cloud-based POS software is that it eliminates the need for costly upgrades and minimizes security risks traditionally associated with client-server systems. The advantage of using a system that provides ongoing software version updates by the provider is that you’re able to easily access the latest features and security requirements free of charge.
Remote Business Management
Recording sales and inventory data are a given, but having that information accessible wherever and whenever you want it is a real game changer. Because traditional point of sale systems require you to run reports from an in-store terminal, your ability to make data-driven business decisions is limited to when you're at your business location.
The advent of cloud-based point of sale means your back of the house operations can now be accessed 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 mobile apps that allow business owners to see real-time sales data in the palm of their hand.
Detailed Sales Reporting
While all point of sale systems provide small business owners with sales data to some degree, there can be considerable variation in how that data is presented and how easy it is to access. Access to clear, concise real-time reporting is vital.
Your point of sale should be able to generate detailed sales reports that identify not only your best selling items and categories, but also show costs and margins so that you can measure the effectiveness of your pricing.
Insist on a POS system that can track sales by department, item, and hour so that you can adjust staffing hours accordingly and allocate floor space more efficiently. While detailed, exportable reports are 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.
Any system that enables payments comes with some level of risk. Data safety and security should be among the factors you think about when choosing your POS system. So when considering your options, make sure to inquire about the latest industry standards and regulations such as PCI DSS compliance and EMV.
Additionally, your point of sale system should never store your customers’ credit card numbers or sensitive information.
Advanced POS Features
In today’s digital age, a lack of efficiency can make or break your business. This is why archaic retail technology like the traditional cash register is on its way out. As your business grows, so will the demands of your POS system.
Once you look past the essential POS software requirements such as sales reporting, analytics, and inventory management, you’ll want to inquire about additional features and services intended to support your growth. This includes the ability to add and remove registers with ease, eCommerce, customer management, email marketing, integrated accounting, gift cards, and customer loyalty programs.
You’ll also want to consider how much business-specific functionality you require for your business and whether or not the software is designed to support those needs. POS software designed specifically for retailers won’t necessarily support the needs of a business in the foodservice and restaurant industry. We cover this in more detail in the ‘Questions to Ask’ portion of this guide. Read on to learn more.
Customizable Hardware Options
POS hardware is one of the main components necessary to complete your POS solution. Opting for a POS software provider that offers both proprietary and open source hardware, provides you with the most freedom and flexibility which ultimately results in the most bang for your buck.
Deciding which POS hardware option is best for your business boils down to your unique business needs. Proprietary POS hardware is designed to work only with vendor-specific software, typically allowing for smoother functionality.
However, if you’re a merchant who values the ability to customize your POS setup, a proprietary solution can be limiting since it is typically only compatible with products and equipment created by the same company or manufacturer.
Depending on your POS system’s hardware requirements, with open source POS hardware, you may be able to use your own tablet device or some POS equipment previously purchased through a third-party provider. This can include receipt printers, cash drawers, barcode scanners and other peripheral hardware you may have lying around.
The great thing about choosing a POS company that provides both types of hardware is that you always have multiple options to find the right hardware to match your unique business setup. Regardless of which option you choose, your POS hardware should be functional, durable, and stylish.
Flexible Pricing for Your Business
‘Back in the day,' the cost of a POS system was exorbitant. This prevented smaller businesses from replacing their outdated 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 necessary hardware upgrades, service calls, and warranty upsells.
Here's the good news: many of today's POS systems offer affordable options at a fraction of the cost. 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.
24/7 Customer Support
Be sure to ask about customer service when considering a point of sale system for your small business. As reliable as modern technology may be, odds are that at some point you will probably have an issue or question which will require you to contact your POS software provider.
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 want more help understanding a specific feature or setting up a barcode scanner? You shouldn't have to go it alone!
As the most critical tool in your store, any questions about your POS system should be answered promptly via phone, chat, email and a support site, 24/7/365.
Choosing the Right POS System
Choosing a quality point of sale system will change the way you run your business. Save time and money with this free guide.