A POS system can take your business to the next level. With their advanced automation capabilities and reporting tools, you can use them to manage multiple aspects of your business from one place instead of trying to run everything the long way.
However, if you’re a small business owner, you don’t want to pay an exorbitant amount of money for software that includes features you will never use and end up convoluting the entire process. There are numerous options available, and most of them offer a few similar features, but they also differ in countless ways. How do you pick a platform that will fit your budget and needs? Here are a few questions to ask yourself when shopping for POS software for retail:
What’s your budget?
Obviously, factor your budget into your decision making. Prices vary between platforms and the bundles they offer, so it’s difficult to give an average price per month (and many providers sell their software on a quote-by-quote basis), but it’s doubtful you will spend less than $50 for a basic package. Some providers, like Square, charge a flat fee per transaction instead of monthly.
Consider costs like the initial setup. Does the provider charge an activation fee? Will you need assistance with on boarding, and if so, do they charge or offer it for free? What are the PCI compliance or charge back fees like?
You want the most value for your money, so factor in what features each package includes and how often you think you’ll use them. Pay attention to what other services the provider offers that are for you, not your customers, such as easy access to customer service representatives.
What kind of hardware do you need?
You might have been into a store as a customer and noticed that all the retailer had was a tablet with a card reader and a cash drawer. The staff member pushed a few buttons, spun the tablet around to face you on a stand, you swiped your card and signed off on the transaction, entered your email address for a receipt, and you were done. The system worked swiftly with no glitches and minimal steps.
If this arrangement appeals to you, it’s possible to implement into your own business depending on its type (you might also need a bar code scanner if you have products stored on shelves instead of orders made on the spot, like in food service). You’re ready to get rid of your bulky cash register, but do you still want a stationary system with a customer-facing display, or do you want some added mobility?
POS systems are excellent for businesses that need to be on-the-go. For example, a retailer that moves between a physical store, a farmer’s market, a craft fair, a sponsored community event, or other places will benefit from using as little physical equipment as possible.
They can probably get away with only a smartphone, card reader, and somewhere to store cash. When shopping for systems, make sure that the software is operable on the kind of hardware you want (the provider may sell both components, too).
What kind of payments do you want to accept?
One of the best things about POS systems is that they enable you to accept multiple kinds of payment. Cash registers can only take cash and cards, maybe checks—but a POS system can accept mobile payments like PayPal and other apps.
Different customers have their preferences, and they are in search of businesses that can accept them without difficulty. Limiting the kinds of payment you can accept limits the number of customers you can do business with—and you always want to take cash and cards—so make sure the platform you decide on can process what your customers use most.
What features are you looking for?
As a small retail store, you definitely don’t need features like table side ordering for restaurants or other industry-specific functions. What you want are things like inventory management, sales reporting, and customer relationship management capabilities.
Inventory management features, for instance, remove the need to track products with a spreadsheet manually. Instead, the system can trace items anywhere in the supply chain and help you manage your storage room more efficiently.
It can also deduct products every time a customer buys something, so your database is always accurate in real-time (and it’s easily searchable online).
Sales reports from a POS system will most likely be more detailed and accurate than the ones you create yourself. You don’t have to wait until the end of the month to compile data, either—POS software can do it on a daily basis.
Of all the POS software options available, you want something that makes sense for your business, not necessarily the biggest, hottest, and most advanced platform out there. What do you hope to see in a POS system?