It is difficult to get by in the market today without a decent POS system. An old fashioned cash register just doesn’t cut it anymore and hasn’t for a very long time. However, selecting a POS system for your small business can feel overwhelming because the number of options available to small business owners is limitless. The whole POS system selection process can be made much more effective and painless by following these five steps:
- Build a requirements list (must haves vs. wants)
A barebones POS system consists of a computer and monitor, point of sale software, receipt printer, cash register and some sort of barcode scanner. These are must haves for any POS system, but what are the must haves for your business?
Identify pain points – are you having problems with product shrinkage? Errors in inventory or bookkeeping? You can address your business’s pain points with your selected POS system. These areas that you have identified are must haves for your business.
Lastly, what functionalities do you think would benefit your business, but aren’t vital? For example, web-based POS systems collect customer data in real-time. This can help you better understand product lifestyles, customer buying patterns and seasonal trends. Depending on your business, this might be a want instead of a must have.
- Demo the system
Before you purchase a system, test it out. How easy is it to use? Is it intuitive? How much time does it take to process orders or items? Get familiar with the hardware and software. Can you imagine purchasing a POS system online, perhaps even committing to a long term payment or payment processing agreement, and then finding out it can’t perform the functions needed for your operation? Taking the time upfront to go through a detailed demonstration will not only assure you that the product is right for your business, but will also make you confident in the vendor’s expertise and ability to support you.
- Consider training, installation and support
When purchasing a POS system, you should seriously consider a vendor that includes training, installation, and support services. Choosing a vendor that has options for extended support plans and maintenance is also a smart move. These extended plans will most likely come with monthly or annual fees, but such an investment could offer huge benefits to your business.
Technical support is also critical – even the most well-tested technology glitches every once in a while. Imagine you are in the midst of your busy season, during the busiest time of day, and your POS system goes down. When it does, you will want to be prepared. You will experience considerable peace of mind when you can reach your provider’s technical support team in a moment’s notice and feel confident that they can get your system up and running again quickly.
- Purchase hardware and software from a single provider
It is important that your hardware and software are compatible. If they are not, then your newly purchased POS system hardware and software will not run together and you will have wasted your hard earned money. The best way to ensure that your hardware and software are compatible is by purchasing them from the same provider.
In addition to having compatible hardware and software, having a single provider makes things much easier when it comes to training and support.
- Investigate vendor references
You are essentially hiring a vendor to provide you with your POS system. References are a critical part of the hiring process. Find out which vendors your competitors are using. See if any of them will talk to you about their experience with the vendor and with the vendor’s POS systems. The last thing you want to do is purchase your POS system from an unreliable vendor whose customer service is lacking and whose equipment and software have continual problems.
Following these five critical steps will eliminate the anxiety and pain that accompany the POS system selection process.