5 Tips for Retail Biz Owners: How to Choose your next POS Solution

Business owners! Close your eyes and imagine your retail establishment. What do you see? Some people got flashes of shopping bags, flashy displays, changing rooms. For most of us, an image of swiping credit cards, cash exchanging hands etc. These things come to mind.  Collecting money at the Point of Sale (POS) is what makes retail tick. It characterizes the retail industry as much as customer service and product displays do.
Your POS system is like the last chapter in a buyer’s shopping story. You’ve got the customer up to this point – they’ve tried on your wares, and felt comfortable enough to part with their money. The last thing you want is to leave a bad taste in the customer’s mouth because you couldn’t end their experience well. That’s why a solid, reliable POS solution is so important.
When was the last time you experienced the frustration of having your POS system take forever to connect? In our high tech and instantly gratified world, even minutes can seem like eternity.

If you’re still using antiquated systems, handling all transactions in cash, or simply not aware what POS is, then today we’ll tell you what you should look out for when selecting your first (nor next) point of sale solution. If we haven’t hammered it home already, POS is so important that you simply cannot skimp on your research or price.

To help you in your journey, we’ve enlisted the help of a retail expert – Christina Martinez, who specializes in consulting with retail businesses.

According to her,  there are the five things you must absolutely look out for.

1) User-Friendly Operation

The best solutions don’t necessarily have to be the most complicated. Often, many small retail businesses can get away with a simple, and easy to use POS system. This makes absolute sense – why purchase something with all the bells and whistles that you simply do not need and will not use?

It’s important to take honest stock of the size of your retail business. You may have grand dreams of scaling up in mind, but if you chose the right POS provider, migration to the new POS system should be a hitch anyway. Ultimately, this will also save you countless dollars in the interim. “Keep it lean,” says Martinez “the complexity of your POS system should match the complexity of your business.”

Ideally, your point of sale solution should be so intuitive that training an employee to use it confidently takes less than an hour. Leading Providers provide software that are relatively easier to learn and follow; thereby, enabling your business to thrive by cutting down on the overall cost and time of training your staff to use the acquired software.

2) Extensive Back up and Support

When you have a store full of customers, the last thing you need is to have a problem with your POS system with nobody on hand to help you resolve it. Be sure to ask system vendors about their customer care policy. The best companies should be able to give you assurance that help is just a phone call away in the event that your hardware or software breaks down.

“You may feel like you’re probing, but it’s essential to ask the vendor how many other customers they serve, and whether they have their own in-house support or if they outsource,” says Martinez. A vendor with too many customers and too few (or merely outsourced) staff can be stretched too thin. With too many requests coming at once, your vendor may not have the ability to meet your needs.

3) Free and Easy Upgrades

You need to know that the solution you go in for is going to be future proof. Look for a system that’s built on a flexible platform and can be quickly and easily upgraded as new technology, such as mobile payment matures. Remember to get confirmation that these upgrades will be free too, at least for a reasonable period of time.

The ideal way to go about it is to take professionally managed services – this will ensure that you don’t have to worry every time a new upgrade comes along, since reputed providers will make sure that you are up to date with minimal involvement on your end.

Ask your vendor about the expected number of updates every year. Look at your providers’ system history as well. Have they been serving customers for a long time? A longer history could indicate a more robust system that has withstood the test of numerous updates.

4) Affordable and Transparent Pricing

Like a true best friend that will never have you putting your hand in your pocket unnecessarily, an honest POS system provider will be upfront about their costs. However, some vendors have subtle ways of regularly extracting money from you. When your vendor provides you with extremely low upfront costs, be suspicious.

Remember that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. If you aren’t paying something for the system up-front, make sure the pay-as-you-go pricing doesn’t tie you to a contract or subject you to cancellation fees. :

“Make sure that your service agreement contains a schedule of payments and make sure that the both you and the vendor agree to those payments only,” says Martinez. “Look for any clauses with words like ‘in the event of… we reserve the right to charge for…’  these are clear warning signs that you might face unexpected costs in the future.”

So-called free point of sale solutions usually involve an agreement with a credit card processing service, who take a little piece of every card payment made by your customers. Over the term of the contract, you will probably pay the price of the POS system a few times over. If you can manage the initial investment, it might be better to purchase your system outright.

5) Compatibility with Your Online Web shop

Some of the more tech savvy of us may be wondering, what about my online sales?

If you run an online business on an ecommerce platform as well as a bricks and mortar retail outlet, then you’re in luck. Cloud based POS systems such as those provided by Shopify , can help you run applications that can be used on an iPad or other portable device. The best thing about these systems is that they synchronize your physical and online business, meaning you don’t have to worry about managing separate inventories and payment systems.

Concluding Thoughts

POS is an integral and important tool in your retail business. It’s an important piece of the shopping experience that gets overlooked because it’s been made so convenient. However, take it away and it will be obvious that something is missing. Therefore it makes sense to select the right POS solution.  We hope that the tips above will prove helpful for you in making an informed selection.