Any business with a retail footprint and inventory hinges on the ever-evolving point of sale system. Here’s how to find one that fits your needs.Key Takeaways:
- POS systems range from the relatively simple to performing multiple complex functions
- Simpler systems cost less but will lack certain features and levels of support
- A POS must become a seamless part of existing operations and a complement to future ones
Criticize and compareChoosing a new POS system might begin by taking a critical look at the one you currently use. Is it in line with what customers want and expect at checkout, especially in terms of contactless transactions? It’s a good time to replace the POS if it isn’t. Almost 75% of small-to-mid-sized businesses expect contactless payments to be the preferred payment style for consumers while 44% of shoppers would refuse to use a store that doesn’t provide it. Other basic things customers look for in a POS are chip reading and the ability to accept gift cards or foreign currency, so consider upgrading if you lack those. Perhaps your current POS handles payment options well but little else. Today’s systems can handle other key customer and employee-centered functions, like inventory access and management, data analytics, and payrolls. They can also be used to run customer loyalty programs or help multi-location businesses keep tabs on operations across branches. If those are areas where you could improve, then an upgraded POS could help. Generally speaking, the more your POS can do, the more it’s likely to contribute to public satisfaction and professional performance. So, compare several systems. A plethora of features doesn’t always indicate the right POS system for your business, however. Further critical appraisal is necessary to avoid unnecessary expenses.
Clarify the needs of your customers, employees, and operationsCustomers have made their needs clear. The next step is speaking to employees to discover how your current system is simplifying or complicating their job. Can they:
- Easily understand and operate the current POS?
- Execute transactions as quickly as possible?
- Efficiently keep track of and adjust inventory?
- Confidently help customers with product/service queries?
Consider the cost to implementBuying a POS system isn’t a one-and-done purchase. Beyond the hardware and software needed to get started are the ongoing monthly operating expenses. NerdWallet gives a good overview of a number of popular POS providers that covers the various costs and highlights how their payment models differ. Most of these companies take a percentage of every transaction made while others offer free software as a perk where competitors don’t. Costs are also system-specific. Review the complete list of pros and cons for a particular POS to decide if the system’s start-up costs, benefits, and monthly fees will be worth the investment. Perhaps the most important feature of any POS is the quality of its customer support. The most feature-laden system will be useless if they go down without readily accessible assistance from the provider. The 24/7 service option may cost extra, but it could save you much more in the face of potential downtime losses, especially if shelves are stocked overnight.
Make security a prioritySensitive computer and company data flow through your POS system and each must be protected. Hackers can infiltrate a POS via network attacks and make off with valuable PII and PCI to exploit consumers and businesses alike. Optimizing system security and PCI DSS compliance are thus vital concerns when selecting a POS package. Your consideration is best given to POS systems that:
- Require multi-step authentication and employee password access.
- Offer cloud connectivity with the associated perks of regular software updates and enhanced security.
- Block any integrated system aspects which may compromise POS security.
- Notify administrators of any abnormal POS processes.
- Encrypt data at point of entry with decryption occurring exclusively at the payment processor’s end.