Everything You Need to Know About Choosing Point of Sale Systems
In this guide, we will explain everything you need to know about point of sales systems (POS for short). We’ll explain the purpose behind these systems, what to look for when shopping for one, the pros and cons, and the cost of them.
If you’re in retail, hospitality, commercial services or any industry where transactions are required, point of sale systems are a must. But how do you know which one to choose?
For some small to mid-sized businesses, decisions like choosing point of sale (POS) systems may fall to the chance method of selecting products from whichever sales person contacted you first with a convincing pitch.
But that’s not necessarily the best way to make a decision that can impact your business’s commerce and overall efficiency. Here’s everything you need to know about POS software.
Features and Benefits Snapshot
There are a number of features that can go into a piece of POS system software, here are some quick features and benefits to look for when shopping for your next POS.
- Inventory data and tracking: useful for businesses that have a lot of inventory onsite and want to integrate systems
- Reporting and analytics data: intuitive reporting tools make it easier for business owners to make decisions based on actual data
- Customer information/customer service management: this includes the availability of technicians and customer service reps as well as escalations
- Employee management: this can assist with scheduling and other employee-oriented executive management tasks
- Mobility: the ability to use the software in a number of conditions and locations
- Integration with current systems: an important consideration is an ability for it to integrate with more than one system
- Increased efficiency: by reducing wait times, manpower, IT response and other resources businesses benefit from an uptick in efficiency
- Inventory and data accuracy: offers secure data housing for inventory, customer information and more
- Consistent sales process: helps businesses establish a manageable routine
- Analysis: offers tools that make analysis easy, fast and convenient
- Security: a top concern for retailers who store customer data
- Affordability: many systems offer payment plans that are more affordable than ever before
The benefits of using the right POS software system can translate to a smoother, more consistent sales process where processes are performed with fast accuracy. This ultimately leads to more sales and a bigger bottom line.
Is Your Current Software a POS?
You may think POS systems are one size fits all, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many types and configurations of systems that could make one a better choice over another.
Here’s how to identify the different types of POS software and what they do. In the context below you will also learn how businesses like yours benefit from using retail POS systems.
The first step to selecting the right POS software is understanding which type works best for you. There are three dominating types of POS software:
- Cloud-Hosted or Saoftware-as-a-Service
- Mobile point of sale software
- Traditional or terminal software
Here’s an overview of POS software types, you may find helpful.
Cloud-Hosted POS Systems
Seems like everything today is running on the cloud. But what does that mean? This web-hosted service uses virtual servers to power production.
Doing so means less hardware, faster access, easier configurations, shared responsibility for the security of the platform and more benefits that can reduce the overall manpower needed to operate smoothly.
Mobile Point of Sale Solutions
Mobile-POS has the same functionality as traditional POS systems, but are ideal for people on the go.
This is particularly useful for people who work in retail environments where they need mobility like at a trade event booth. Or those who want to integrate with inventory systems that require manual scanning.
Mobile-POS can be cloud-hosted but may require additional hardware components.
As the name suggests, these traditional systems are usually set up in terminals and include their own hardware and software components.
Most often seen in hospitality and retail settings, this may look like a computer with a money drawer and a scanner.
What Do POS Systems Do?
The words point of sale literally mean the time and place of a transaction. So, while the primary purpose is to record the sale, any retail POS system serves a number of important functions within the business.
These include the management of transactions. But transactions don’t just occur at the terminal. The kinds of transactions that can be recorded include inventory and stock controls, vendor relations, interactions with customers and more.
Trends in Point of Sale Systems
The POS systems of today are a far cry from your grandpa’s cash register. Technology has molded the things we do in a lot of different ways, including how we shop.
This is evident when you look at trends around POS systems. For example, the industry has seen steady growth since 2012 and is expected to continue growing into the 2020s, exceeding $14 billion.
Factors that drive trends are things like industry use-cases. For instance, the advent of self-checkout terminals encourages POS system manufacturers to design new product lines.
However, the software is expected to make up 30% of the industry’s market revenue by 2024.
With software ever-changing, developers should pay attention to the desires of their customer-base which includes benefits like:
- No transaction fees
- mobile capabilities; and
- intuitive employee scheduling
For POS manufacturers and software developers, the future looks bright. This should amount to important changes that affect how companies do business.
How to Choose the Right POS System
There are ten questions to consider when choosing the right system. Here are some things to think about while you shop for POS software systems.
1. Do You Need a POS System?
Before getting into the specifics of selecting a POS model for your business, it’s important to decide whether you require one at all.
If you’re in the retail or hospitality industry, the odds are good that you require a POS system, if only for compliance purposes alone.
Any business that handles money and transactions should think about modernizing their operations by at least having some kind of POS system.
For those using terminal systems, you may be wondering if it’s time to get an upgrade.
Obviously, it’s a decision you’ll need to assess, but operating a cloud-based POS can save time, money and resources that impact your revenue.
2. Is the System I’m Considering Good for My Business?
When making a decision about what software to use, think about your business use-case.
That’s because no two use-case scenarios are the same. The POS system needs of a pop-up shop are going to be different than a store at the mall.
This is where important features and benefits make the difference. Things to consider are reporting, mobility, inventory capabilities, speed, hardware requirements and more.
3. What About SaaS?
Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS, is a common term used to describe fully functional software platforms that operate on cloud servers.
Powered by secure Internet technology, SaaS POS systems benefit users in a number of really significant ways.
For one, they are lightning fast. No longer do you have to wait for your hardware to boot up and connect to a server, this is instantaneous in most cases.
That speed helps to increase efficiency. And using cloud systems you can often do it with less manpower. There’s only limited system management required, so you can reduce the number of IT calls, too.
These benefits make SaaS a good choice for businesses looking to gain efficiencies by modernizing.
4. What’s the Learning Curve Like?
For many, software learning curves can be intimidating. This anxiety makes switching to a new system something to avoid.
When considering any new software, go into with a full understanding of how to use the system.
This can be achieved with trial run software that some POS vendors offer.
If you can’t get a free trial consider whether the customer service and support is top notch, and how you plan to escalate any user issues.
See if you can get a demonstration or sit down with a real person to discuss the program.
Do whatever you need to in order to understand if the software is going to provide you with the ease-of-use you require.
5. What’s My Budget?
Most businesses go into a software buy knowing what they have to spend.
When looking for the perfect system, consider your budget. If you plan on buying terminal software that could be a bigger expenditure.
That’s because it usually requires the acquisition of both software licenses and terminals, then there are costs around installation too.
Cloud software tends to be more budget-friendly since it is usually packaged as a service that requires a smaller monthly payment, and no leases or large hardware purchases.
6. What Features Do I Require?
Depending on your industry and specific needs you may require certain features. It’s important to decide in advance which features and benefits are going to be required for you to get the best use from your system.
If you need mobility, it makes sense to consider mobile systems. If you’re looking for speed and efficiency, you may make the decision to implement a SaaS program.
There’s no right or wrong answer here. Just think about the benefits you’d like to reap and apply them to features available in POS system software.
7. What’s Available for Customer Support?
In an earlier question, we alluded to customer service and escalations. But it’s important to really dig into what’s available with each system.
A terminal may have a support department that deploys people to check on leased hardware and software. Whereas if you go with cloud software, customer support and escalations may be more likely to be handled digitally or over the phone.
Understand your comfortability with the software and assess your support needs before making a decision.
8. Does It Require a Contract or a Lease?
This is a question that will help you assess the total cost of operation. If you are looking at using self-checkout terminals, this is one approach that may require special leased units.
Some third-party software vendors, including SaaS, might be more likely to require a contract with vendor lock-in.
To ensure you get the best services available, think about whether you are prepared to enter into a contract or equipment lease with your POS provider.
9. What Are the Tech Specs and Does it Integrate?
The technical specifications, or tech specs, determine what hardware and software are required to run a given POS system.
Tech specs are important because if a lot of hardware or software upgrades are required to run the software this can get a little pricey.
Another thing to consider is integration with current systems. This topic is becoming increasingly popular with regard to SaaS systems and how they connect with one another to form a multi-cloud enterprise architecture.
10. Is It Industry Specific or Customizable?
Lastly, consider whether or not the software is or can be customized to your industry.
For instance, if your business has a particular emphasis on supply chain and warehousing, you may require certain capabilities from the inventory framework than a company that holds little to no inventory on-site.
Hospitality is one example of an industry with specific needs. Using a POS system, the service will be geared toward quick foodservice transactions and product availability, rather than goods and warehouse inventory.
Not Just Any POS
Point of sale systems are useful resources for any business looking to get ahead of the competition by promoting internal efficiency and reliable, secure transactions.
For retail and hospitality industries, the right POS system is a game changer.
Trends show the need for these systems is only going to increase as technology charges forward.
So business owner seeking the following benefits should decide if mobile, cloud-based or terminal systems are right for their operation:
- Speed and efficiency increases
- Decreases in service calls and staffing
- Increased data protection and analysis
- Employee management and scheduling
That’s the scoop on POS system software.