Choosing the right point-of-sale (POS) system for your company can contribute to the success of the business. Certain POS systems are responsible for intricate accounting duties that demand quite a lot of time and energy. Some systems are able to manage your inventory, reorder products, track consumer purchasing habits, etc. which could ultimately increase your overall productivity so that your business is able to operate in the most effective manner while also saving money. There are thousands of POS systems to choose from in the market, so essentially you need to first consider what your business actually needs.

1. Features

Every business will require different features from one another. If you own a retail store, for example, you’re going to need different features than those who own a café. Some POS systems are very specific to different types of industries while others are broad enough to suit a wide range of business structures, according to Merchant Maverick. Determine which features are most important to you since POS systems specialise in different areas e.g. iPad compatible, allows for kitting, vouchers, promotions, tracking batches, taxes etc. Try looking for users with a similar business model to yours and see what works for them.

2. Set-up cost and hardware compatibility

Setting up a POS solution can be a pricey process as you need to consider both the cost of the software, along with the hardware required. Hardware requirements for one POS terminal can include a computer / tablet, POS receipt printer, cash drawer, barcode scanner and credit card terminal. Along with this, you cannot buy just any POS hardware as the majority of time POS software is only compatible with selected models, so make sure you read documentation before buying hardware. The final thing to consider is the cost of the POS software, whether it is cloud or physical software. Things to investigate are if the price changes based on the number of terminals, number of users and/or if there is a licence fee both one off or reoccurring.

3. Inventory tracking

Tracking inventory is an essential part of having a POS system, especially when you have multiple branches or a warehouse. If you intend to scale up your business, it’s important to choose the right inventory tools from the start. Needing to know if you have stock in the store, whether any other branches have stock or if there is any incoming stock are common questions that need to be answered on a daily basis within a retail environment. Considerations should not be limited to the above; you should also consider if a system can allow for the creation of purchase orders from suppliers as well as the transfer of stock between branches. These are all important requirements when trying to manage stock and a lot of entry-level POS systems only offer basic inventory features, so it pays to research into a POS system which also has a strong inventory aspect to it. Having a system that does both, eliminates the need to use multiple systems and potential restrictions when you rely on integration between two separate systems.

4. Usability

Usability of a POS system is incredibly important in a retail environment, due to the number of staff as well as staff turnover. This means the lower barrier to entry the better, as this reduces both initial training and the likelihood for staff to make any errors. The system should be easy to use for you and your employees. On a day to day basis, retail staff will process the likes of sales, quotes, returns, laybys and part payments therefore it is necessary that the solution is intuitive enough so they can understand how to do each process without having to refer back to a user manual, or increasing their chances of mistakes being made which can potentially affect the integrity of sales data.

5. Reporting

In a retail environment, strong reporting is essential, as this means getting the right information to make the right decisions. Tracking sales by rep, branch, product and even customer means you can use this information to generate more sales. Having the ability to drill down data to get very specific information, means having a greater understanding and awareness of your business and it is important that the POS solution you consider has this flexibility.

6. Cloud software VS physical software

Software is fast moving into the cloud due the flexibility and increased transparency with being able to access cloud software anywhere with an internet connection. If you are looking into an online system as being your primary POS, ensure that your connection is reliable. With physical software you are restricted to it only being available on a specific terminal, which also means getting sales data can be technically a lot more difficult as appose to a cloud solution. Some of the restrictions of a lot of cloud-based POS solutions, means reliance on an internet connect and if the internet goes down, so does the POS. There are however some cloud POS that do allow you to continue to trade if internet is lost for a period of time, so it pays to check this when considering a cloud-solution as a form of redundancy.

7. Integration with third party software

When choosing a POS solution, there is more to consider than just the features of the POS software itself. You should also consider future proofing the technology in your business to make things easier and more efficient for you. An example would be if the POS solution is integrated with your accounting software, which will eliminate double data entry and reduce margin for error. Something else to think about is if your POS is integrated with your eCommerce website, or what eCommerce solutions it does integrate with if you are planning to open an online website. The main benefits for this, is so orders can be centrally managed along with accurately maintaining stock figures in real-time.

This post appeared on Cin7. You can read it here.

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