From popular franchise restaurants to smaller independent boutiques, any business that accepts card payments in a physical location needs a point of sale (POS) system. It’s an important element to have in place when a business opens, but it’s not always something at the top of a business’ list of considerations.
As a tool used to record transactions, manage inventory and provide powerful reporting, data and analytics, a POS system is essential. With various point of sale systems available however, how do you know which is the right kind for your particular business? Many are designed around industry best practices; they serve the majority of businesses based on the most common needs. But when businesses move away from traditional practices, these systems start to fail. Here, we’ll detail how to choose the right point of sale system for your business.
What should you consider when selecting a system?
Selecting a POS system involves a little research and consideration before making an investment. Here five factors which could influence your decision.
What features will you need to run your business as smoothly as possible? This depends entirely on the type of business and the industry. If you are opening a retail store, then inventory management will be required. A bar or café, meanwhile, will need an open ticket function to manage orders more efficiently. Certain POS systems are designed with different features tailored to certain tasks, so choosing one that offers the functionality that your business needs is important.
Many POS systems now operate via Wi-Fi, allowing businesses to store data securely in the cloud, as well as offering access from multiple devices. If you’re considering a non-cloud-based, or fixed solution, you’ll probably still require an internet connection. Be sure to contact your internet provider and give them advanced notice of your intention to trade, so that your connection is tested and functioning smoothly before you get your business up and running.
What hardware do you require to make the POS work? Some systems will need you to buy hardware, others will run on your existing equipment, while others will need an iPad or laptop. A cash drawer, receipt printer and device to operate your POS are essential, though some businesses opt for handwritten receipts as it allows them to delay buying a printer. Retail businesses will also benefit from a barcode scanner to speed up the checkout process.
The cost of POS systems depends on the size of the business and the capabilities you require, so it’s important to have an idea of how much you want to spend. Likewise, it’s your choice of whether to go with a one-time licensing fee or monthly payments; the former means you won’t need to make recurring payments, while the latter is more flexible in the long term.
Some customer support comes at a cost, while some POS providers charge extra for priority calls or phone access. Find out in advance by reaching out to providers to see what support is available to you; it’s important to make sure you can reach your provider in an emergency.
POS systems and their pros and cons
Below, we’ve listed a number of POS systems and their pros and cons, to help you choose the system that would best suit your business.
Frequently asked questions about POS systems
Here, we have answered a few of the most common questions people have before investing in a POS system for the first time.
Any business that sells a product or service can benefit from a point of sale as long as it fits its needs and budget. Even a small business run by one person warrants having a POS system, as it saves time in the long run so you can focus on growth.
On the contrary, most modern point of sale systems are user-friendly and require very little training, if any. Although they are highly intuitive, any mistakes that will be made can be rectified and identified. A POS system means you can see exactly what the problem was so you can work on amending the issue in the process.
Cash registers are simply machines that record sales, give change and store money. They require a separate card processor system if you want them to take card payments, too. Similarly, while they can carry out simple reporting such as daily sales, they don’t feature software that can help you run a business in the way that POS systems support.
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Not necessarily. PCI compliance requires that you comply with a checklist of requirements that are designed to ensure sellers and organisations process cardholder data safely and securely to prevent fraud or data breaches. This is important when running a business, so when you purchase a POS system, it’s essential that you make sure it’s PCI compliant.
That said, just because your POS software or payment processor is PCI compliant, it doesn’t guarantee that you are as a seller. In order to be compliant, you have to make sure your Wi-Fi network is secure. You have to have somewhere you can store customer data, too. PCI compliance surrounds the entire payment ecosystem. And since the rules of compliance can change, you may have to manually update the software, payment terminal, Wi-Fi or other systems in your environment to ensure they stay compliant.
Many businesses, particularly retailers, make the mistake of buying the hardware before the software, and then find the two aren’t compatible with each other. Not all scanners, weighing scales, or card readers will work with retail software packages. If you’re in doubt, buying the software and hardware from the same vendor can reduce or eliminate compatibility issues and can help reduce your overall technology costs.
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