Once you've established your retail business model and you're ready to invest in the necessary equipment to start selling, a point of sale (POS) system will be one of the biggest choices you make. This combination of retail software and hardware will drive your business every day and either limit or maximize your customers' shopping experience. Selecting the best one for your business is crucial.
There are five key factors to consider when looking for the right POS system for your startup retail business. Before investing, review these factors and make sure you'll have all your bases covered.
Before you even begin to look at possible POS systems for your business, you must determine your business needs. Ask yourself these major questions:
● How will your retail business accept payments? Cash? Credit/debit cards? Mobile payments? Gift cards or certificates?
● Which hardware do you need to operate? Complete cash registers? Mobile devices? Credit card payment processors? Receipt printers? Barcode scanners?
● Do you need mobile access to your data?
● How many unique SKUs do you have?
● How much product information do you need to store?
● Do you need to integrate brick-and-mortar retail with e-commerce?
● How much customer information do you need to store?
● Do you currently, or intend to, offer a rewards program?
Once you know which features your POS system must offer to suit your business, you can match those requirements to the functionality of available systems. Don't adopt a system that can't handle both your current and future business needs, but don't over-invest in a system with more features than you really need.
2. Preferred System Base
Traditionally, POS systems have been comprised of POS software installed in-house on a dedicated server along with peripheral components, such as a receipt printer or credit card payment processor. Today, many retailers have merged their POS and inventory management systems into integrated cloud-based platforms. When deciding on a POS system for your startup retail business, decide where you want the system to be based - on a local server or online.
Local Server Pros:
● Supports larger retail businesses with complex needs
● Data is secured at your physical location
● Operations don't rely on Internet access
Local Server Cons:
● Possibly limited integration with e-commerce
● Data may not be remotely accessible
● Mobile access to system data
● Lower upfront costs
● Dependency on your Internet connection
● Subject to cloud security risks
3. Third-Party Integrations
Especially if you intend to adopt a cloud-based POS system, make sure to consider which third-party software, apps, hardware, etc. can integrate into the system. Although you may not use these add-ons now, consider what you'll want to use as your business grows. The cloud-based Shopify POS system
, for example, allows you integrate a variety of apps that enhance the system and unify your different business systems. App integrations include QuickBooks, MailChimp, FreshBooks, SalesForce, Facebook, and Twitter.
4. Ease of Use
Whether your retail business will hire staff, or you'll be ringing up sales yourself, the POS system should be intuitive to use. Both you and new hires should be able to start using the system without much training. Instruction for beginners should focus on how your business uses the system, not how the system operates. Operation should be clear and simple.
While researching different POS systems, request demos of the software and/or hardware, so that you can make sure the system is truly easy to learn and to use on a regular basis.
Helpful System Features:
● Touchscreen functionality
● Online help access
● Training mode for new staff members
5. Technical Support
Even if you choose a POS system that is intuitive to use, you will likely need reliable technical support. You may need help addressing software bugs, troubleshooting software or hardware, installing upgrades, learning new features included with upgrades, and other technical challenges. Not all POS software vendors offer reliable support, so make sure this is one of your deciding factors when choosing the ideal POS system for your retail startup.
When it comes down to it, your POS system should help your business grow from startup to success, without hindering the sales process or your daily operations. Choose a system that works for you now, and can work for you into the future.
May 1, 2014