Choosing a point of sale system
A point of sale (POS) system can be an essential tool for managing your business’s sales and keeping accurate records. Most POS systems consist of hardware and software.
The hardware may be a cash register, tablet or dongle, a small card reader that you can plug into a mobile device. Some hardware options can work with a variety of POS systems. Or, you may be able to accept non-cash payments with a POS device without attaching it to a more complex POS system.
The POS software can help you record, store and analyze all your business’s information, saving you time and making you a more effective business leader. You may be able to choose between different features or functions depending on the complexity of your POS system.
There are hundreds of POS systems to choose from, including specialty options for certain types of businesses (a restaurant has different needs than a clothing store) and customizable systems. Here are four things to consider as you compare your options:
Consider the upfront and ongoing costs for the system.
You may need to purchase or rent the hardware, such as a cash register or POS device. Then, depending on your choice, you may need to purchase the POS software or pay a monthly (or annual) subscription fee.
Additionally, POS systems may charge different fees for processing debit card and credit card and transactions. Compare processing costs between POS systems, and see if the system allows you to change to a different third-party processing company later if you want more flexibility.
Your needs may change as your business grows, so consider which features you need today and may want in the future. Here are some of the things that POS systems can do:
- Accept EMV chip (a small chip in cards that can help keep the cardholder’s information secure) debit card and credit cards
- Accept contactless cards (cards that can be tapped rather than swiped or inserted) and mobile payments
- Store cash in a secure drawer
- Scan products’ barcodes
- Track your business’s inventory
- Create sales reports
- Manage employees shifts and timesheets
- Manage a customer loyalty program
- Connect with your bookkeeping software
- Print physical receipts or send digital receipts
Some systems might take hours or days to set up, or require you to hire a consultant to get started. Others may be much simpler. The setup is only part of the process, though. Consider how easy the system will be to use every day, and how easy it will be to train new employees to use your POS system.
A problem with your POS system could slow down your business, and as the business owner, it may be your job to fix the problem. Where will you turn? Some POS system providers may offer free support at any time of day. With others, you may need to figure out how to solve the problem on your own, or pay a consultant for help.