As a business owner, you well know that making important operational changes is a daunting task. It requires advanced planning, extensive shopping and demos, staff training, and often a substantial investment.
Shopping for a new point of sale (POS) system is no exception.
As the operational hub of almost any business, the POS is critically important to a business’s success. Handling everything from inventory to employee management, the quality of your point of sale can make or break the future of a young business.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to buying a new POS and go over the primary features that each business must consider along the way.
What Is a POS System?
At its most basic level, a POS system is responsible for making a sale at the point of purchase.
What was once a simple cash register is now done electronically, sometimes on mobile devices, and often through a cloud-based network. Altogether, this has made the process of accepting payments much easier and more efficient.
But a point of sale is responsible for so much more than simply ringing up a transaction. It can manage inventory, produce reports and metrics, streamline ordering, run eCommerce sales, track employee behavior, reduce fraud, run a loyalty program, and a whole lot more.
When Shopping for a POS, Different Businesses Need Different Solutions
While shopping for a POS system, it’s important to remember that no two are made exactly the same and that many solutions are geared toward specific types of merchants. Before getting started ask yourself a few questions:
How old is my business?
Newer businesses might require a more rudimentary solution to get started and can upgrade to a more powerful solution down the road.
Is my business performing well?
Underperforming businesses will see more immediate benefits and should prioritize making a switch.
What are my biggest pain points?
Pick out the areas of operation that currently give your business the most trouble and look for a solution that can address each of these.
Where do I see my business in a few years?
You don’t want to switch software often – look for a solution that can scale with your business and maintain effectiveness down the road.
Do I need any industry niche features?
While many small businesses require only a basic set of features, some specialty businesses will need a variety of tools and features that few solutions provide.
Top Things to Consider When Shopping for a POS
Next, we’ll break down the most important features and tools to consider as you start the process of shopping for a new point of sale software.
1. User Experience
While ease of use is on everyone’s checklist, remember that more robust solutions will come with a greater learning curve. Don’t get an enterprise-level system if you don’t need one. But if do, the time it takes to master it will be well worth it.
Systems with great customer support will also remotely assist with training and installation. This can take some of the burden off of owners and managers and help bring your team up to speed more quickly.
2. Inventory Management
This is a critical factor to consider. Too many business owners don’t have the tools to have a truly in-depth level of understanding of their inventory. Without this, it’s nearly impossible to maximize efficiency and, in turn, profits.
POS inventory management software will prevent your business from being overstocked or understocked, helping to optimize cash flow, ordering, pricing, promotions, and warehouse management.
Smaller operations don’t require anything more than basic inventory management but any business with more than a few dozen products will benefit from these advanced features.
3. Metrics and Reporting
The analytics of your operation go hand-in-hand with your inventory management. Without one, the other loses effectiveness.
Robust POS software will be able to produce dozens of KPI reports and analyze each of your products. This provides insight that pen and paper or intuition simply can’t.
Like inventory management, smaller merchants won’t require such in-depth features but will benefit from it as they grow.
4. Hardware Options
Like any software, POS systems need hardware on which to run. Businesses again have options here.
Some solutions can be run on something as simple as a smartphone with a credit card adapter. Many others now offer more powerful mobile options on tablets or other handheld devices. Desktops are yet another option. These provide greater ease of use, faster processing speed, and can come with customer-facing screens.
Many businesses will require additional hardware peripherals such as receipt printers, credit card terminals, handheld scanners, turnstiles, kiosks, or ticket printers.
POS solutions are constantly evolving to provide a more complete solution for their merchants. This involves developing integrations to various third-party software.
Popular integrations include accounting and payroll, CRM systems, shipping compliance, eCommerce, and employee management (like TimeForge’s integration with KORONA POS). These provide more efficient communication between all facets of the business and streamline day-to-day operations.
6. Credit Card Processing
Also known as merchant services, any business that accepts card payments will need to use a credit card processor. Processing takes a small percentage of each transaction in return for facilitating the transaction and ensuring its security, PCI compliance, and successful transfer between banks.
Unfortunately, many POS solutions are now also credit card processors. In most cases, this means that they require merchants to use their proprietary processing solution at inflated rates. Savvy business owners should look for POS solutions that allow them to use a processor of their choice. Even a few fractions of a percent change will save a business thousands of dollars annually.
Of course, pricing is an essential item to consider here. Most POS solutions have now moved to a cloud-based subscription model. Instead of paying a one-time fee to own the license, businesses pay a monthly subscription fee. While this does mean that it’s an ongoing cost, such subscriptions come with automated updates to the software and free customer support.
While pricing ranges widely based on tools and features, subscriptions typically range between $50 and $200 per month per terminal. Hardware prices range even more, but can typically be owned outright.
Set a budget beforehand and plan for the majority of the upfront costs to be the hardware.
In addition to the pricing, consider the structure of any contract. Most solutions will offer users a discount for annual subscriptions over monthly subscriptions.
Beware of those that require a year subscription upfront or any contractual agreements with credit card processing. Being locked into a solution that isn’t working for your business can leave a lasting impact.
9. Customer Support
Finally, prioritize customer support. Switching to a new system means you’ll have questions. It’s important that you and your team feel comfortable troubleshooting any issues and leaning on a great support team to help you make the most of the solution.
Look for solutions that don’t charge extra for support or only limit you to a certain number of calls. Peace of mind is critical.
Shopping for a POS? Meet KORONA POS
KORONA POS is one of TimeForge’s newest partners and provides a robust POS solution for thousands of businesses across the country.
Their point of sale provides niche features for specific business types while maintaining ease of use and award-winning customer support. They aren’t a credit card processor and don’t require any upfront fees, surcharges, or contracts.