A point of sale system is as intricate as the central nervous system in the body. It’s a complex system that can control just about every activity within the business. Considering the tremendous role this equipment and software has on your company, it’s important to pick the right system.
To help business owners with their research, here’s a list of five questions to consider when searching for a point of sale system:
1. What features are important?
Every business has special needs when it comes to a POS system, so before you start looking for specific brands or products, make a list of features that your business needs.
A coffee shop, for example, might need scales to weigh and sell coffee beans, while a restaurant requires multi-employee access at once.
There are, however, several features that are universal. Here’s a look at some must-haves:
- Calculate and track checkouts
- Track cash in drawer
- Access to data including sales reports, employee sales averages and items sold
- Clock-in system for employees
- Inventory tracking and automated ordering options
- Integration with third party software, like accounting software
2. What’s the cost?
Cost is an important factor for any big purchase, but you have to consider its value within the company and its longevity. After all, this isn’t something you’ll replace in a year or two. The average lifespan of a POS system is about a decade.
Most POS systems come with specific costs, which can be broken into these categories:
- Hardware: From bar code scanners to receipt printers, you’ll purchase hardware for any POS system.
- Software: Every POS system requires computer software, which basically activates the hardware and makes it usable for employees.
- Integrations: If you want a POS system that works with other software that your business is currently using, like an accounting software, there’s likely an additional fee for it.
- Credit card processing: There’s a fee for your business to accept and process credit cards. Be sure to ask about it as you shop for POS systems.
- Service and support: Some POS companies provide service and support as a flat fee each month; others include it in the overall package price. There could be one-time training fees that fall into this category too.
3. Is it user-friendly?
This is a system you will use everyday, so it has to be something you’re comfortable with. How do you know if it’s something you’ll like? There are a few ways to make sure you get a system that won’t make you pull your hair out:
- Test it
Most companies offer free trials, so be sure to advantage of one. Some allow you to download a trial of the software right to your laptop so you can tour around; others require a conversation with the company. Either way, you should certainly take it for a test drive.
- Talk with other companies in the industry
What are others in your industry using for a POS system? Talk with owners about their system, and ask how the system works for various employees.
For example, how does the POS system work with cooks in the kitchen versus the wait staff? What does a vendor see when a POS automatically places an order that you need filled?
Make sure you examine the system’s “friendliness” from all angles. If you can, go see the system in action at another business.
4. What kind of data is accessible?
A POS system should be able to provide a variety of reports in an instant.
Curious about today’s sales? Hit a button and print a report. Wondering if your employees are showing up late? A POS with an employee clock-in system should give you a printout by employee of check in and out times.
A POS should be able to provide easy access to data so you can ensure your business is running as efficiently as possible.
5. What’s the mobile capacity?
There’s a growing demand for mobile POS payment options. TV commercials exemplify this push, as a rash of commercials show consumers using their smartphone to pay for a purchase at the checkout.
By 2018, it’s estimated that mobile POS payments will hit $5.4 billion, so make sure the POS system that you’re looking into has a mobile option. Even if it’s not something you plan to use immediately, it’s likely something you’ll integrate in the future.
Purchasing a POS system is a big undertaking. These five questions will get you started on the right path, but there are additional factors to consider. If you’ve installed a new POS system recently, feel free to add to this list of questions in the comment section to help others make the best choice possible.