Unlike traditional cash registers, POS systems are a full-fledged retail device that does more than just ringing up sales. These are designed to perform a number of tasks that together keep a retail business running smoothly – including tracking inventory, controlling cash flow, invoicing, accounting, reporting, etc. Besides the core capabilities, a retail POS system also maintains huge amounts of crucial data which can be used to personalise shopping experience and enhance customer service.
So, a POS system is an inevitable investment for retail businesses of all sizes. However, which POS solution you choose to integrate into your business plays a major role in your retail success. While some are equipped with basic functionalities and are easy to use, others may have additional features with a bit complex interface. Moreover, with so many options available in the market, picking one can be a difficult decision. Choosing the right retail POS system calls for thorough research, analysis and consideration.
By putting together all the information you need to find an appropriate retail POS system, in this blog, we cut the hard work out of the process for you.
WHAT IS A POS SYSTEM?
Most of you would already know POS as a sales processing system that helps you keep track of cash that is coming in and records all customer purchases. Typically, a retail POS system comprises a combination of software and hardware that work collaboratively to get the job done. You can buy a POS bundle which includes everything you need, to avoid the hassle of purchasing software and hardware separately. Or you can invest in compatible hardware to pair with your existing software to complete your POS setup.
As a retailer, you can either opt for local, server-based POS software which stores sales data onsite or use any app- or cloud-based SaaS solutions. Cloud-based programs are more popular amongst retailers as they offer real-time access to sales data which helps provide better customer service. What’s more, cloud-based retail POS software is usually more affordable, thus especially ideal for small- to medium-sized retailers that are on a tight budget or operate at several locations.
Regardless of whether you invest in local, server-based POS software or cloud-based solutions, it remains crucial in both scenarios to make sure the chosen solution is compatible with your existing POS hardware. At POS Plaza, we carry a huge assortment of POS bundles and software compatible with popular POS solutions such as Vend, Shopify, Touch Bistro, Square and more.
POS hardware is a set of input and output peripherals that make your POS software function. POS hardware can be anything from a tablet or touchscreen monitor to a stationary terminal, iPad, scanner, receipt printer, kiosk, etc.
While retailers have the option to choose from stationary or mobile POS hardware, most of the modern retail environments like home and repair services, food trucks and market vendors, which are constantly on the go can largely benefit from mPOS. Mobile POS has become a preferred choice for growing small businesses for the level of flexibility, portability and versatility it offers when processing payments and generating sales. Moreover, choosing the right POS hardware really depends on the type of business your run. For example, a small retail store can do with a single stationary POS terminal at the entrance while a fashion store may be better off with wireless POS terminal that can ring up sales at different locations in-store, keeping checkout queues short and serving customers better.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT POS SYSTEM
All retail POS systems can do the basic tasks of processing payments and keeping record of ongoing activities in the inventory and sales department of your retail business. Some advanced systems, however, are designed to offer more capabilities. It is therefore very important to outline your business requirements by asking yourself the following questions:
What is the current state of your business?
What are the areas in which your business struggles?
What operations you need your POS system to simplify?
DETERMINE THE STATE OF YOUR BUSINESS
The current state of your business helps figure out what type of POS functionalities you need. Are you opening a new retail store? If so, you will need a solution that is simple, easy to use and set up, and can help you get your retail operations started efficiently.
If your simply want to upgrade from your old cash register, you want to consider a new POS system that can do the standard tasks while eliminating discrepancies between your sales and reports and adding efficiency into day-to-day operations. Moreover, if you plan to replace your existing retail POS system with a more advanced solution, think about what your current solution is lacking and how a new system can help fix those issues.
IDENTIFY YOUR BUSINESS STRUGGLES
Every business has its own paint points, especially new start-ups. An ideal retail POS system should help a business to not just streamline its day-to-day operations but also achieve a better level of flexibility and efficiency by addressing ongoing issues. While some small businesses can do with a one-size-fits-all solution, other merchants may need POS systems with add-ons that can give their business needs that extra boost to achieve a new level of success.
DETERMINE TASKS YOU NEED YOUR POS SYSTEM TO HELP YOU WITH
The right POS system can reduce a lot of manual work and daily hassles for your staff automating so many tasks:
Accounting: Integrating directly with accounting systems, a retail POS system can help automate varied aspects of tax preparation.
Managing Employees: A well-integrated POS system can help with everything from scheduling employee shifts to handling time-off requests.
Keeping Inventory in Check: By staying on top of your inventory, you can avoid stockout situations and stock up on items that your customers frequently buy, effectively managing sales, restocking and returns.
Competitive Analysis: With important data insights including charts, graphs, and heat maps, you can compare your sales to your competitors and make required improvements to improve the health of your company.
OTHER IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS
Features & Functionalities
Most POS systems offer basic functionalities including inventory management, credit and debit card acceptance and reporting. Before choosing a solution, understand what capabilities you need at your point of sale. Here are the key features you can find in any retail POS system:
- Billing and order processing
- Inventory and stock management
- Sales monitoring and reporting
- Employee management
- Cross channel returns management
- Customer account and relationship management
- Loyalty and gift cards
Ease of Use
Often overlooked, the usability of a POS system plays a great role in how the given system can benefit your retail environment. The more user-friendly a retail POS system is, the lesser the staff training costs and hassles. The system should be easy to install and operate for your employees. Your retail staff is going to process sales, payments and returns on a daily basis, so the system should be intuitive enough for them to understand its functionalities without needing extensive technical knowledge or calling for tech support every now and then to successfully use the system.
Hardware Compatibility and Set Up Cost
When estimating the total cost of a POS system, you need to consider the cost of both software and hardware. If you are buying POS software for the first time, you are in luck. Because not too long ago, retail POS systems were expensive, thus wouldn’t seem like a feasible solution for all small business owners. Thanks to the newer software as a service (SaaS) model, all sizes of businesses have a range of reasonable options.
However, pricing of POS systems may vary from model to model. A reliable POS provider would be trasparent and straightforward about the total costs involved in the purchase and set up of a POS solution. At POS Plaza, we help our customers first understand their software and hardware requirements and then carefully guide them through their options and total pricing.
Now that you are aware of what to look for when buying a retail POS system, you are read to start with the bulk of your research. If you are still overwhelmed with the choices available in the market and can’t make an educated judgement call, we can assist. The POS Plaza team will help you define your business needs, compare different POS hardware and software and find a solution that fits your budget and needs.