The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Point-of-Sale System

By John Boitnott

6 min read

For retail boutiques, restaurants and bars, a point-­of-­sale (POS) system serves as an essential part of doing business. Not only does it process transactions, but it also offers an opportunity to provide efficient customer service. Whether a shopper is returning an unwanted gift or enjoying a meal out with the family, when the payment process runs smoothly, the customer is more likely to want to do business with that location again.

The simple cash register has evolved. Now, POS systems have become much more sophisticated, with integrations to inventory software, reporting capabilities and other time-saving features. This guide will help you identify the right POS for your business.

Customer Service

Your first priority as a business owner will be to meet the daily demands of your customer base. This means no delays, even during the busiest days of the year.

Your POS system should be able to quickly process each transaction without connection failures. Search for a system that has a hybrid architecture specifically designed to avoid costly downtime. For example, QuickBooks Point of Sale powered by Revel Systems has an “Always On” mode, which means if your internet goes out momentarily, your system is still in business.

Return on Investment

As you’re comparing costs, consider the ROI of each POS solution. One system may come with lower setup costs and processing fees, while offering far fewer features than a more expensive POS option. A POS terminal that integrates with your inventory system, for instance, may save your employees the time they would have spent manually entering information. That time can be spent taking care of other duties.

Reporting

To remain competitive, today’s businesses must use data analytics to know as much as possible about customer interactions. Your POS is the perfect tool for gathering this information, since it tracks every sale that comes through each of your locations. Use this information to track customer volumes, schedule staff, purchase inventory and prepare your budget.

Personalization

At one time, businesses were forced to tailor their operations around the built­-in functionalities of their industry’s POS systems. Customized solutions had to be hired out and were simply too expensive to be practical.

Today’s POS solutions have built­-in customization options, and providers have also divided solutions off into industry­-specific features, such as advanced tipping capabilities for dine-­in restaurants, and exchange and refund options for retail stores.

Security

Businesses often treat security as an afterthought, but it is one of the most essential elements in choosing a POS solution. In general, if you process credit cards or customer information, you have to adhere to certain standards. Failure to secure that information could result in a costly data breach. If a breach occurs, not only will you suffer from reputation damage, but you’ll be forced to pay to determine the cause of the breach, as well as any fees and lawsuits that might result.

Scalability

If expanding your business is in your plans, you won’t want to start over with a new system as your company grows. Make sure the solution you choose can grow with your business, including accommodating multiple locations if you expand. Look for software that offers a console to help you manage all of your locations in one place, including features that let you push changes and updates to all of your systems at the same time.

While there are other factors specific to your business and industry that will influence your choice in POS systems, the six highlighted above should be a good baseline to determine which system is right for your business. Once you have your POS system in place, see our article on accepting online payments to optimize your digital storefront.

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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