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What to Know Before Choosing a POS System

Jenna Vasquez
Jenna Vasquez | Contributor

As an integral part of every business, the Point of Sale (POS) system tracks payment, sales, inventory, and customer data. While all POS systems (or POS terminals) have the same basic function, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a POS system. Follow these tips, and you’ll be on your way to increased productivity and better sales.

Ease of use

You should be looking for a POS system that has easy to use hardware and software. Avoid point of sale systems that are too complex and overwhelming. You don’t want to be spending time training new employees on a complex system. As technology continues to advance, so does the point of sale market. As you look for an easy-to-use POS software for your company, here are a couple of things to consider:

  • What methods of payment do your customers most commonly use?
    Over the past 10 years, point of sale hardware and software have evolved dramatically in regard to the method of payment. Cash registers have become less prevalent and more consumers are using credit cards, mobile devices, gift cards, and/or debit cards instead of paying with cash.

You can enjoy POS features like card readers, receipt printers, mobile device scanners, automatic updates, an inventory index, and a well-designed sales transaction tracker. The majority of POS systems have these features and more, but you should make a point to check so that you have no future regrets.

  • What type of business are you?
    Some companies offer point of sale systems built for very specific target markets:  
    • Small Business — The simplest POS systems function well for small business owners. Their clean cut hardware and software provide the business with the capability to accept transactions, manage inventory, and manage revenue.
    • Restaurants — Restaurant POS systems are built with basic features to make and track simple transactions with a card, cash, or mobile device.
    • Retailers — Point of sale systems created for retailers are typically a bit more complex as the number of items sold is higher.  

It is important to understand what features you will need in order to satisfy the needs of your business.

Cloud-based system

Having a cloud-based system should be at the top of your list. Not only will this backup your information, but it will also provide automatic updates to your system. This is a good solution to ensure that your sale software is running at top speed. Every business wants to avoid customers waiting for a slow cash register or an out-dated point of sale software. Moving your business transactions to the cloud will decrease the likelihood of this happening.  

Remote business management

You want all your business information available to you, wherever you may be. Many POS systems have an app that integrates with their software. This provides users a more immediate method to locate inventory lists, transactions, revenue, and other key features from a mobile device or a tablet.

Detailed sales reporting

Any POS system will report your sales, but some will detail your best selling items and categories, as well as show costs and even margins so you can measure the effectiveness of your pricing. When looking for a system that will provide you with reports, find one that allows you to download the reports so you can have them in the future.

Secure payments

Any time you are making transactions, there is an associated risk. Data security should be one of your top priorities. A number of POS systems are equipped with end-to-end encryption or other security measures to assure that no personal information is stolen by a third party during and after transactions.

Here are a few other important factors to consider when choosing a POS system:

  • Initial setup cost
  • Payment processing costs
  • Other fees related to processing
  • Equipment costs and rental fees
  • Software fees
  • Software features
  • Mobility and size
  • Ability to accept chip cards and mobile payments
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Point of Sale Frequently Asked Questions

What is a POS system?

A POS system allows you to accept payments and make sales. It can be broken down to the following three components.

  • Hardware — POS hardware allows you to accept payments. It is the physical piece of equipment that you use. Ideally, it will accept cash, credit cards (especially chip cards), and mobile payments. It should also have a receipt printer, drawers to store cash, and a scanning device to scan barcodes.
  • Software — POS software is the central hub for all commands. This allows you to perform transactions such as tracking cash payments and credit card processing. Depending on the model you get, there are also options for sales reporting, customer engagement, inventory management, and more.
  • Payments — POS systems route the payments that you receive to your bank account after each sales transaction.

When do you need a POS system?

Investing if a POS system will streamline your ability to perform transactions and track them in a timely manner. You will benefit from being able to store all of this information online to be used at your discretion. This can be done without the use of a POS system, but it will be much more time-intensive.

Do I need to pay a monthly fee for POS software or to use a POS system?

Most POS systems are partnered with other companies, which may have their own set of fees. Other POS systems may not be partnered, but may require a monthly fee of its own. Pricing varies between companies and can depend on the package of services that you select. All fees should be disclosed on each POS site.

What’s the difference between POS systems and cash registers?

At the basic level, POS systems, like cash registers accept payments at the time of a sales transaction. The major difference is in the software provided by the majority of systems and its efficiency. Typically the system will keep track of all transactions, build reports, manage inventory, and perform other functions that a cash register cannot. POS systems have the ability to help small businesses run and grow their entire business. From a small business standpoint, it’s almost a no-brainer.

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