Point of sale (POS) solutions were once relatively simple, but there are now a wide range of options, each offering unique features. A robust point of sale service can make your company significantly more efficient and have a positive effect on the bottom line.
What is a POS?
A Point of Sale system is a combination of hardware and software that enables a merchant to sell and collect payments for on location sales. Modern POS systems can be software-based and can utilize any generic mobile phone, tablet, or desktop. Traditional POS systems typically included proprietary hardware with touch screen support and cash drawer integration.
This article will cover everything you need to know in order to choose the right point of sale software for your business. With so many different solutions available, it’s critical to do some research beforehand and identify the one that matches your brand’s needs.
Is a Point of Sale System Really Necessary?
Some businesses attempt to cut costs by doing without a point of sale solution, but this investment has the potential to make money for your company. The small amount you spend on the subscription is nothing compared to the time and money you’ll save every workday.
In addition to facilitating transactions, contemporary point of sale applications offer a vast suite of tools designed to make every aspect of your business run more smoothly. If you want to focus on customer relationships, for example, you can find point of sale solutions that include loyalty programs and other important features. Furthermore, many services integrate seamlessly with other popular applications like Shopify and Xero.
Different Systems for Different Businesses
Point of sale services target a diverse set of companies including both online vendors and businesses with physical stores. With that in mind, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding an option that matches your budget and the size of your brand.
Further more, more and more systems are moving to a cloud-based approach which decentralizes information by disconnecting it from any individual device. While traditional systems are still available, cloud-based alternatives are becoming more and more popular.
5 Key Considerations When Selecting a POS
- Hardware – Different point of sale systems are designed to work with different kinds of hardware, and you need to consider hardware costs when comparing your options. If you can run the POS with just a phone, for example, you’re streamlining functionality while adding little-to-no overhead. On the other hand, certain programs work better with tablets or dedicated devices, which can lead to substantially more costs. Furthermore, larger businesses and restaurants often need a wider range of hardware, including things like printers for receipts, terminals for table management, and more.
- Payment Gateways – Buying a POS system doesn't automatically mean that you've integrated a means of credit card payment. While most POS systems come preconfigured for a credit card reader, others may require configuring, which may cost you. Find a POS with an integrated card reader or one that can integrate with a credit card reader from your payment processor and gateway.
- Third-party Integrations – Most businesses already use a number of productivity tools, and it’s critical to find a point of sale service that works well with your existing practices. Popular integrations include accounting systems, employee management systems, inventory systems, customer loyalty systems, and shipping services. Square's point of sale system, for example, connects to a variety of third party platforms for everything from eCommerce to marketing and accounting. Without integrations, adding new services to your organization’s strategies can unnecessarily complicate key functions. Point of sale systems are all about efficiency, so it’s counterproductive to use a platform that doesn’t communicate with other applications. For example, automatically importing transactions into an accounting service is much more efficient than manually transferring them between apps.
- Security – Consumers take their privacy more seriously than ever before, and data hacks are surprisingly common among businesses of all sizes. Managers often underestimate the importance of keeping data secure, and this is particularly relevant when customers are providing sensitive information such as credit card numbers. The Payment Card Industry describes reasonable security standards for point of sale systems and other methods of payment processing. Well-known programs are generally compliant with these standards, but you can also look for more robust protections, such as data tokenization and end to end encryption. Security should be one of your top priorities when looking for a reliable POS app.
- Support – You might not think of support as a critical feature, but a poor support network can make your point of sale system significantly more difficult to use. Reliable options provide consistent support and help you troubleshoot issues before they negatively impact your business. If possible, you should look for a service that offers 24/7 support. It’s important to know that someone will respond whenever you’re having trouble with the system. Some applications even give new users on-site help as they set up the service for the first time. Small businesses often put off investing in a point of sale solution, but a high-quality subscription can be worth it for companies of virtually any size. These are just a few of the most relevant factors to keep in mind when comparing point of sale services.