The right point-of-sale (POS) software will have a huge effect on how you run your business. Among other things, a POS system will track inventory, inform you of the best-selling brands or items, and reveal your most profitable hours. It may even help you market your services to specific audiences.
However, choosing the right software has never been easy, especially for first-time business owners. If that’s your case, there are the things you should consider when buying POS software.
When shopping for a POS system, always settle for the one with the most features. However, make sure that it matches your business needs. Remember, while some systems are broad enough to suit many business applications, others are very industry specific.
And without keeping this in mind, you’ll end up with feature-rich retail software, even though you run a coffee shop. So, before you buy POS software, list any features that you consider important to your business model. Also ask around for references. Only then should you buy.
If you buy a cheap, simple POS system, your business will soon outgrow it, sometimes in as little as a year. However, this doesn’t mean that you should buy expensive products. Instead, balance the system’s price and its ability to scale either up or down, especially if you’re a retailer. This means looking for POS software that allows you to add new registers or locations.
Ease of Use
Regardless of its features, the system that you finally settle on must be easy to use. In fact, it should have an intuitive interface and a shallow learning curve. The last thing you want is to spend hours in front of a screen trying to install or to figure out a system works.
What you want is to set up the system in minutes and to train your employees on how to use it. Also note that if employees don’t understand a system, they’ll likely make costly errors. To know whether a system is easy to use, visit businesses that use the system and ask about it.
As important as it is, POS software cannot function alone. If you’re to get the most out of it, integrate it with third-party software, such as accounting software, eCommerce websites, and email clients. In the case of accounting software, the integration saves you time and reduces errors, for you input the data only once. On the other hand, when you integrate your eCommerce website, you can more accurately manage orders and maintain stock.
However, you receive the greatest benefit from integrated email clients, which allow you gather customer information for targeted marketing campaigns. The system first gathers client-specific data, including names, contacts, favourite items, and preferred modes of shopping. And using these data points, the POS software divides the clients into market segments and then customizes promotions to fit each segment. Finally, it sends out emails using email marketing software.
In the rush to buy POS software, also factor in the costly hardware on which it will run. After all, your employees must scan barcodes, print receipts, process credit cards, store cash, and input data. And for this, you need hardware.
But here’s the catch: The hardware and software must be compatible. If you’re not careful, you may buy pricey equipment and software only to discover later that they are incompatible. For that reason, read the documentation that comes with both before deciding what to buy.
Never buy POS software that cannot accurately track inventory, especially if you operate more than one branch or warehouse. Also get the right inventory tools when you want to scale up your business. With them, you know in real time exactly how much stock you have in any branch or warehouse.
You’ll also create purchase orders to give to suppliers as well as transfer stock from one branch or warehouse to another. Unfortunately, most entry-level POS systems don’t offer such extensive tracking capabilities. So, avoid them unless you run a small business, or be ready to pay more for the extra features.
In today’s competitive retail environment, having the right information at your fingertips gives you an edge over the competition. And this is where POS software comes in. It keeps you updated on the top-selling and worst-selling items, the busiest hours, the best-performing sales representatives, and the most popular brands to name a few.
In addition, it lets you compare in-store and online sales. Being armed with such important information then gives you a clearer picture of how your business is performing and on where you should improve. Better still, this all happens in real time.
After buying POS software, you’ll at some point need customer support, no matter how robust the system is. This could be when you start using the software and you’re having trouble setting it up. Or, it could be a year later when the system, say, refuses to accept transactions. Either way, find out how much support your software provider offers because you’ll need it.
Take providers like Tower Systems, for instance. They offer 24-hour support throughout the week and via multiple channels, including live chats and phone numbers. They also give free training, courses, and demonstrations. Besides that, providers must have favourable customer reviews and a social media presence for closer interaction with their clients.
In the past, POS software was restricted to one terminal, which made accessing and syncing data a difficult affair. But today, most POS systems offer cloud-based services, thus allowing you to access and sync your data across many terminals and locations. However, such systems depend on the internet to function properly.
When the internet connection goes down, so does the system. Fortunately, although internet downtime is inevitable, some systems allow you to trade even when disconnected, but only for a while. How long your system remains up depends on the provider, so even with cloud-based POS systems, enquire about this useful feature.
All these factors should be taken into consideration if you’re in the market for a point of sale system. A good POS system could make a huge impact on your everyday operations. So, make sure you choose wisely and make sure you take a close look at the features offered. Consider support as well before you make a final decision.