Managing a business is quite challenging. Any system that allows for improvement, simplicity, and effectiveness should be the consideration of all business owners. Therefore, I wrote this article to bring one of the most helpful tools for operations to your attention. This tool is hospitality or retail POS software and system. It ensures quick, secure payment transactions together with detailed reporting, inventory management, and real-time analysis. The benefits of the POS system are so vast that no other method, including traditional cash registers, cannot supersede this solution.
There exist different types of POS solutions, depending on the business sector. For instance, restaurants, shops, or grocery stores can use the POS system. However, each industry has its specialties. A POS system should meet the unique needs of every business. If we want to generalize the POS solutions, we can create two categories. One is for retail businesses, which include any shop and store. The other is for hospitality businesses, where restaurants, hotels, or cafes serve people.
Traditionally, businesses like retail or food service use a cash register. That was a popular system because people used cash mostly. However, times have changed. People moved to credit card payments, e-Wallets, and other mobile payments. The latest POS software allows you to accept payments in different methods. Besides, POS are more user-friendly and works faster. Hence, making transactions are more convenient. As a result, customers enjoy purchasing experience and keep coming back.
Other than increasing the sales and easing the operations, POS solutions are capable of creating real-time reports or managing the inventory. Besides, they are mobile systems, which means managers can monitor the activities whenever and wherever they want. More advanced features of POS include customer management or email marketing, which ensures the success of your business.
POS software for retail provides many benefits compared to traditional cash registers. However, you should still consider several factors to maximize the value you get for the price paid. Therefore, in this section, I will list the top 12 tips to consider before selecting a POS vendor.
The retail POS software offers you a vast range of benefits. However, you should be careful while choosing software. You will maximize its advantages if you select a system that fits the needs of your business.
Most people make a decision based on two approaches. They either value the features or the cost more. Both strategies have their pros and cons.
The first strategy is choosing a system based on a unique feature. Usually, any Point of Sale system provides standard services, namely card acceptance, reporting, or inventory management. However, online ordering, age verification, or appointment integration are not familiar to many systems. If your business needs any of them, you should consider looking for a POS solution offering these services. There exist some disadvantages to this approach. First, as you require a specific system, your processor choices can be limited. Second, these types of solutions can be quite expensive.
On the other hand, you can target cost reduction. If you think that your business needs only standard features, you can choose any POS system. Hence, it is advisable to find a processor first that will save you money. Overall, POS software for retail are not cheap. However, if you can find a competitive card processor before choosing a POS system, you can reduce your expenses.
When choosing a retail POS software, it is helpful to get quotes from different providers. Most straightforwardly, you can search online which offer you comparison function. You can directly compare multiple brands without calling them. Besides, those websites, like Posvice, provides a range of customer reviews about real experiences.
If you find a software that fits your needs, you can call them individually, and get quotes. Besides, one can ask for information about software or maintenance. What matters the most after the purchase of service is customer support. Hence, try to get a feel of their customer support team, too. Many businesses try this way because they get access to truly popular software options.
On the other hand, you can also check Linkedin and find vendors. You can also contact some of the previous users to get their feedback.
To run your business effectively, you need to decide on your budget allocated for POS. Depending on the number of your stores, customers, or required features, the cost of retail POS software varies considerably. If you decide to get a software license, your expense will be more than choosing a fee-based system. Though the license is expensive, you will avoid any recurring payments later. Besides, some companies will offer you additional benefits, like monthly updates.
In contrast, leasing a POS system does not require any upfront business cost. Sometimes, you should sign a contract that prohibits cancellation for an extended period. Besides, these contracts are usually between your business and a third-party leasing company, rather than processor provider. Hence, even if you stop using retail POS software, you will still be required to pay the lease.
However, there are still advantages in pricing that the POS software offer. Before, high investment requirements made getting a POS system prohibitive. Small businesses could not afford tens of thousands of dollars investment, so they stick to the old cash desks. Nowadays, almost all companies can set-up a POS solution. If you lack money, you can opt for a fee-based system for some time. After you develop your business and increase your profits, you can buy one.
Before you dive into the POS selection, you need to be aware of proprietary systems. This feature means that if you choose a system, you need to work only with its supported processor. Such a feature offers you some advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, you will not spend much time to find a processor that suits the system. On the negative side, you lose negotiation power against the provider of the processor. They know that your favored system works only with their offering. Hence, they can demand any price they wish. You will not have any competitive advantage as there is no other choice available for your solution. Besides, if in the future you decide to use different software, you need to change the whole system.
I do not say that this feature is terrible for your business. If you think that the system you chose is worth it, or you can afford system changes in the future, you can select a proprietary system easily.
The main thing is that you need to be careful and get this information beforehand. Usually, providers of proprietary systems do not mention this feature explicitly. Sometimes, even if they suggest, they do not tell which processor you have to get beforehand. Therefore, you will be the one who asks questions about the system to make a better-informed decision.
The features of the retail POS software are all on paper. Therefore, you cannot guarantee that the solution will fit your retail business perfectly. The best way to understand the use of the software is through seeing it in action. For instance, you can ask the POS vendor about local references. Then, you can contact those businesses and ask them to let you check how POS software for retail works. Besides, if this option is not possible, you can request a free trial. Some professional POS providing companies allows customers to try the software for some time entirely-free. When you try it, analyze the functionality, user-friendliness, and speed. Also, you need to consider the transition to this new system. You need to make sure that you will be able to transfer quickly. If you can contact users, you can also ask how they managed the transition.
Let’s imagine that you have chosen your retail POS software. Besides, you got all the required hardware. It is time to set up the software and start working.
Set-up processes usually differ in complexity depending on the requirements of your business. If you choose a professional company, they would probably guide you through this process. In some cases, software providers undertake the installation process, too. In other cases, they will provide the instructions. If you have any questions, it is always better to ask your provider. Besides, ask if you can create a dummy account first to try the system.
It is also common that the providers partner with IT companies in the local areas. Usually, a reliable and experienced software company will have a network of IT consultants and other organizations that can assist clients in the implementation of a new service.
The main focus of any POS system should be to ease the daily operations. If the software is too complicated, it will be hard to navigate. As a result, the complexity of usage will offset any benefits it should bring to your business. Therefore, you need to consider the user-friendliness and simplicity of the retail POS software.
In general, all solutions offer the same functionality. You should be able to finalize payments, monitor sales, manage inventory, and store customer data easily. However, if the software is challenging, these processes will take a lot of time. Hence, the efficiency of the business will be reduced.
You need to keep in mind that your staff should be able to learn the usage of the solution in the shortest possible time. Besides, the team needs to accept payments or check inventory in a few minutes. The perfect POS choice will be able to simplify your transactions and save you money. If it is not user-friendly, you should consider other options.
If you consider getting a retail POS software, I will advise you to get a cloud-based solution. This type of software offers you more advantages than traditional client-server systems. The providers usually advance their software continuously. Besides, they do not require any additional costs from you. If we consider that the technological changes are very dynamic, frequent updates can benefit your operations considerably. Adopting a cloud-based POS software for retail guarantees that the system you chose will not become an out-of-date solution tomorrow.
Your business will avoid costly updates or security risks with the help of cloud systems. You will ensure that your POS system gets access to the latest features and is protected without any extra cost. To protect your operations, ask about regulations like PCI DSS or EMV from your vendor.
Another advantage of the cloud system is that it allows remote management. Recording sales or inventory is a standard function of POS systems. However, traditional methods enable you to access that information only when you use the in-store terminal. Therefore, you can make data-based decisions only when you are physically at your store. In contrast, if you get a cloud-based retail POS software, you can access all data whenever and wherever you want. Whether you are on vacation or resting at home, you can control your operation from a web browser. Besides, more cutting edge POS vendors will offer you a chance o get mobile apps to monitor the business transactions and analyze real-time data.
POS solution is capable of providing small businesses with sales data. However, they vary a lot, depending on how much data they present or how the owner can access this information. For managing the business effectively, one needs a concise real-time reporting function considerably. If you can choose a professional POS software, you will not only get information about your most preferred items but also costs and margins. Hence, you will be able to evaluate how valid your prices are.
When you make a choice, put an emphasis on software that tracks sales based on department, product, or time. As a result, you will be able to change work hours or allocate products on shelves more effectively. Besides, presentations also matter. Accounters may enjoy concise and exportable reports to work on. However, managers usually need to get reports that summarize information in understandable and simplified ways.
Other than most preferred features mentioned above, like security, cloud system, or user-friendliness, some companies provide advanced functions. These features can make your business stand out in a fierce competition. If you are sure that the vendor offers everyday tasks such as reporting, analysis, or inventory management successfully, ask for advanced ones. Some examples of more professional features can be email marketing, customer management, gift card, or loyalty programs. Besides, it is better to ask for specialized POS software. Sometimes, a solution that targets food services might not work correctly in the retail business. If you can get software specially designed for your business sector, you can enjoy the simplicity of usage. These features will support the further growth of your business.
Retail POS software is most effective if you can complete it with suitable hardware. I already informed you about proprietary systems. If you try to find a software provider that offers you both proprietary and open-source hardware options, you will get the maximum freedom. It will also affect positively to the flexibility of your decisions.
The decision on hardware depends on the specific business requirements a lot. If you choose proprietary software, you can operate transactions smoother. However, if you want more customization to your POS software, it will be more helpful to select an open-source POS system. Open-source choice allows you to use tablets or any other POS hardware. You can connect receipt printers, barcode scanning machines, or cash drawers to this software. Other than deciding on proprietary vs. open-source, your hardware choice should be stylish, durable, and functional.
The technology can be user-friendly and reliable. However, if you are not an expert in this field, it is highly probable that you will face many questions and concerns about new software. Therefore, you need to partner with a professional retail POS software provider who will assist you whenever you need it. Even if you understand the current processes, you might want additional services in the future. For instance, if you decide to add a barcode scanner to the system, how will you do it? At some point, you will need to get the help of a POS vendor. Before it is too late, you should choose the one which provides extensive customer support. Professional companies will offer you 24/7 support in different ways, including phone, chat, or email.