A point of sale (POS) system is the place where a retail transaction takes place. This is now so much more than a fancy cash register — although a register or till will often form an integral part of the overall system. A POS system can incorporate elements of stock and inventory tracking, allowing you to tell your customers at a glance whether an item is in stock, in addition to providing detailed product information or even suggesting alternatives. It can integrate accounting and record keeping, allow you to manage returns and refunds and help you to collect data, or sign customers up to mailing lists (with their permission of course). It might also form a link between onsite brick-and-mortar sales and the e-commerce element of an operation.
Not all business needs are the same and the right POS solution will vary. A busy restaurant and a car showroom will have very different requirements, for example. The right POS solution can also fluctuate not only between different sectors but between individual businesses within those sectors.
A suitable POS system is an asset to your business and, whether you’re upgrading an existing site or establishing a new venture, choosing the right one from the start can play a pivotal role in your success.
Consider your needs
Before selecting a POS solution, it is fundamental that you determine exactly which one is right for your business. Small businesses might be better suited to a fast and streamlined solution without an abundance of extra features, while other businesses might require a tailored solution for their individual requirements.
Some standard must-have features typically include hardware standards such as a monitor or screen, a barcode scanner, card reader, cash drawer and a printer for receipts. However, even within these standard elements there are choices to be made. Some outlets now consider tablets more dynamic and flexible than fixed monitor screens, for example.
You should also consider the benefits of additional features such as sales analysis and reporting, which synchronise sales recorded at your POS with analytics systems. Employee management tools can allow staff to clock in and out, in addition to dealing with rostering and payroll issues. Inventory management tools can keep track of current stock levels and customer management tools can allow you to log customer details and connect with them via marketing tools.
Other relatively new developments include contactless technology and purchases being made via customer’s smartphones and iOS. It is also important that you consider the security features of any POS system you install.
Consider your budget
The best POS solution is not necessarily the most advanced or expensive one available. It is more important that you choose the correct fit for your business. At the same time, you shouldn’t skimp on finding the right one. POS solutions are a crucial element of your business and you may come to regret focusing solely on saving money further down the line.
As with other areas of the business, however, you are likely to be working within a strict budget, especially during the startup phase. Some important factors might involve the size of upfront and setup costs compared to ongoing running costs. Another consideration might be whether you would need to purchase additional hardware, or whether you could realistically run the system on the resources currently at your disposal.
Shop and compare
If you run a retail business you’ll no doubt be aware that many customers are increasingly prone to researching products online before making a purchase, even if they eventually make that purchase in-store. When it comes to selecting your POS solution, you should do the same. Salespeople are naturally going to push their own products and services, but there are a lot of choices out there and it might well be the case that more than one suits your unique needs.
There are a number of comparison websites available that allow you to weigh up the pros and cons of different systems, as well as the prices. Independent online customer reviews can also be invaluable in flagging up issues that might not be apparent from the sales pitch, while giving you an overall impression of the system in question.
Installing a POS solution can represent a sizeable investment and have a major impact on your business operations. You should, therefore, take your time and carefully research all the options available to you.
Having the perfect POS solution for your business is not going to do you any good if your staff don’t know how to operate it correctly. Appropriate training should be provided for all relevant employees to ensure they are completely familiar with the system’s features. As well as being trained to make the best use of both standard and additional features, they should also know what to do in case something goes wrong.
Newly recruited staff will obviously have to be trained in the operation of your POS system, while recurring refresher sessions and tests can help to ensure that employees continue to use your POS solution correctly. This is particularly important if certain elements of your system are regularly