When you choose a point of sale system that meets your business’s specific needs, you can circumvent numerous costly, time-consuming issues directly related to your operations. To help our readers find the absolute best platform for their particular business, here are the most important factors to consider when searching for a new POS system:
Decide on how much hardware you need
First things first, decide how much hardware your business needs in order to utilize its point of sale system. While some platforms require you to purchase in-house devices and accessories, others allow you to make use of compatible smartphones or tablets.
If you already use tablets, smartphones, and other devices in your business operations, consider a POS platform compatible with your business’s current hardware. Not only does this help you reduce your upfront investment, but it can also improve your onboarding experience, as you already have experience using your existing hardware. That said, you will likely need to buy a few hardware items, such as stands, printers, credit card readers, and other payment terminals.
Consider your industry and business type
Next, consider the industry you operate within. This is critical if you want your POS system to improve your business operations for you, your staff, and your customers. For example, if you own a restaurant that provides guests with table service, consider POS systems offering features tailormade to address the various difficulties associated with table service. Restaurant-specific POS systems often include tools to create tabs, split checks, monitor courses, and update and/or customize order tickets.
With so many point of sale platforms offering industry-specific features, it’s important to search for a platform with features you can utilize in your business operations.
pharmacist ringing up elder lady at pos machine
airline receptionist taking a credit card payment from a passenger at point of sale
customer handing coffee shop cashier her credit card to be run through pos software
Set a budget
It’s time to set a budget. You must make sure that your POS system doesn’t cost more than you can afford. Fortunately, as the POS landscape grows increasingly competitive, there are plenty of excellent deals available. There’s no need to choose an expensive platform, especially if you can’t afford the expense.
Determine which features you need
Lastly, decide which features your business needs to succeed. Due to the recent advancements made in the POS industry, numerous features are included with even the most basic plans from point of sale platforms. That said, some companies include too many features, which makes these platforms difficult to navigate.
If a POS system includes several features you don’t use, you might be overpaying for your subscription. This is especially true if your POS platform offers multiple subscription tiers. Make sure to assess which subscription level has the package of features that you actually need.
If you feel overwhelmed by the number of available features in today’s point of sale market, below explores the eight most important features worth considering when choosing a POS system:
1. Mobile POS capabilities
Mobile POS capabilities allow you to take your business on the go. This is an excellent feature for mobile businesses, such as pop-up stalls, food trucks, and any field services.
While this feature is useful for small, mobile businesses, it can also be of use to restaurants and retail stores. With a mobile POS device, restaurant staff can provide faster service, resulting in happier guests, faster table turnover, and potentially higher profit margins. Likewise, staff members on the store floor of a retail business can check stock, accept payments, and process refunds on the spot.
2. eCommerce support
man making a virtual payment with point of sale software at eCommerce store
If you want to run a successful online store in addition to your brick-and-mortar store, you need eCommerce support. Running an online store and physical storefront can be extremely difficult if they’re not managed on the same platform. For example, if you make a sale in-store and your online inventory does not automatically update to reflect this sale, you may end up selling a product twice.
Fortunately, many of the leading POS platforms have built-in eCommerce capabilities. If you choose a POS platform without a built-in eCommerce feature, make sure to confirm that it can integrate with outside eCommerce platforms.
3. Inventory management
If you run a retail store, you probably want to avoid selling out of your most popular items. So, tracking inventory is essential, but manual inventory management can be difficult, time-consuming, and prone to human error. Fortunately, many leading POS platforms have automated inventory tracking that notifies you when you’re running low on stock.
While inventory management isn’t of the same importance across all business types and industries, it can be useful. Using the restaurant industry as an example, some POS systems feature ingredient and alcohol tracking.
4. CRM support
If you want to build long-term relationships with your most loyal customers, you need a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. This tool can track customer activity, offer rewards, and provide a range of other benefits. For example, a CRM tool can track purchases via an assigned customer ID. Since their purchase history is on record, customers can make returns without a receipt.
You can also use a CRM system to build a loyalty program in which your customers can earn points for every dollar they spend. After your customer obtains a certain number of points, you can offer them a reward. However, loyalty program tools occasionally incur additional costs. If you want to implement a POS-managed loyalty program but affordability is one of your chief concerns, be sure to inquire whether this tool is subject to additional costs.
5. Integration compatibility
While many point of sale companies offer in-house features, there is also an entire ecosystem of businesses devoted to offering external features that integrate with POS systems. Such integrations enable you to incorporate innovative third-party software with your POS system.
cashier smiling at pos system as two happy customers purchase a purse
For example, QuickBooks, the popular accounting software program previously mentioned, integrates with many leading POS systems. This integration automatically sends data to QuickBooks, which may streamline the tedious task of bookkeeping. There are other available integrations that can help you build online stores, accept payments, create loyalty programs, execute email marketing campaigns, and analyze sales data.
Below is a list of third-party companies that offer the most useful integrations compatible with leading POS systems:
If you already utilize third-party software, it’s worth confirming whether your potential new POS system is compatible with your favorite third-party software.
In order to have a finger on the pulse of your business, you need access to detailed reports. A reporting feature produces just that. Typically, this feature produces reports detailing data regarding sales, revenue, returns, and other pertinent information.
A primary benefit of today’s point of sale systems is that you can have instant access to the data listed above. Previously, cash registers would manually print reports after business hours. While many business owners were accustomed to this system, there are now many better options.
Additionally, many of today’s POS systems allow you to access the backend of your sales data from anywhere. Even if you’re not physically at your business, you can log into a portal to review live data and reports.
7. Customer support
Even with the most reliable point of sale system on the market, you’re bound to run into some trouble. Whether it’s a technical glitch preventing you from accepting payments or a feature you can’t seem to locate, there will likely come a time when you need to speak to your system’s support team. That said, it’s important to inquire about what type of support options are available. While online support systems like FAQ sections and chatbots can be useful, you should make sure it’s easy to speak to a live person. Additionally, you may want to look on consumer watchdog sites to see if your potential POS platform has received consistent complaints about support.
male customer making a mobile payment with female cashier at grocery store’s point of sale system
8. Ease of setup and use
Finally, remember that, above all else, a point of sale system is intended to make your life easier, not more difficult. That said, make sure that the POS system you choose is easy to set up and use. Not only will this make your job easier, but it will also help you quickly onboard your staff.
Most POS platforms provide free trials to potential clients. If available, you should take advantage of a free trial to test out the interface’s ease of use without making any financial commitments.