On the surface, they all look the same and promise a similar set of essential features, the ability to accept credit card transactions, inventory tracking, customer loyalty tools, and employee management just to name a few. However, choosing a point of sale system is not a decision that retailers should make lightly.
This powerful tool is the lifeline of your day-to-day operations, empowering you to better manage all areas of your business, including supply chain management, marketing, accounting, and staffing. So, how do you determine the best POS system for your small business? Not to worry, we did the legwork so that you can avoid making a costly, uninformed decision.
Benefits of Using a POS System
Before we can address the qualities of a ‘best in class’ retail POS system, we first need to discuss what modern POS systems are capable of.
Enhanced Sales Transactions and Payments Today’s point of sale system performs the same basic functions as an electronic cash register such as calculating change and sales. However, it was designed to operate as an all-in-one solution that provides robust inventory management and control, omnichannel capabilities like integrated ecommerce, and access to customer relationship management, marketing, and reporting tools.
Supply Chain and Inventory Management With most modern POS systems, keeping track of your store’s inventory is easier than ever. Today’s point of sale software allows retailers and managers to instantly import their inventory data and keep track of when stock items are low.
Marketing and Customer Outreach Today’s point of sale software allows retail businesses to leverage the latest in digital marketing, enabling you to coordinate email blasts, encourage engagement on social media channels and promote discounts.
Staff Management With modern POS software, you can oversee your employees, track performance, build intuitive schedules and ensure that your store is running smoothly, even when you’re not there.
Data Reporting and Analytics In the modern world of sales, data can tell you everything about your business. It pays to know what’s working, what’s not, and what you can do to boost your outreach. Many small business owners avoid analytics because they feel like they won’t understand the reports, but with today’s POS software and user-friendly design, makes reporting simple to view, understand and export. You can even see real-time data in the palm of your hand — with a smartphone app that’s integrated into your POS system.
Of course, while many modern POS systems offer all of these capabilities, the ones that stand out have a particular set of qualities that are rare in the market. What you want to look for in a POS system is the ability support every aspect of your business.
Without further ado, here are some features to consider when choosing the best POS system for your small business.
The Key Features of a Quality POS System
If you were to boil down the goal of a retail store, what would you say is the most important aspect? It’s likely that you thought of sales first, and for a good reason. A store that is unable to sell its wares will not last long in today’s competitive retail market.
The best POS system makes selling as easy and organized as possible. Here are a few things you should expect — or rather, demand — from your POS software, to help support your business.
Short Transaction Times Whether your goal is to be a high volume seller or to corner a niche market, transactions that take too long will be a drain on your staff and your customers. See, spending too much time processing a sale comes at a significant opportunity cost; customers will grow impatient, your employees will get frustrated and be too occupied to handle other duties throughout the store. The best retail POS systems make it easy to access product information in the computer and ring up sales.
Investing in a mobile, iPad-based solution like Vend also allows retailers to process a high-volume of orders during peak hours without slowing down. The iPad’s flexible, portable design quickly turns a fixed POS station into a mobile register making it easy to reduce wait times by processing transactions mobility.
User-Friendly and Customizable Interface The best POS systems have an intuitive user interface that is easy for customers and staff to navigate when they are engaged at the point of purchase. One of the capabilities that tend to separate an average POS system from the best retail POS systems on the market is customization. A customizable POS system allows users to do things that you might not think of first when shopping for new software, like toggling sales tax, managing add-ons to sales and providing notes to avoid misunderstandings in the fulfillment of a transaction. Not only will a simple, user-friendly system save time you’d otherwise spend training your staff, but it also allows you to cut down on human error during the checkout process.
All of these little options can be crucial to building a POS package that fits your retail business, rather than molding your business to fit into a static POS software package.
Diverse Payment Types In the modern world, we’re all going digital, and this includes paying for goods. Retailers that don’t accept all forms of payment are missing out on potential profits. That being said, the best POS system for your budget, is one that has a diverse payment platform that can handle cash, credit, and debit, as well as newer methods such as Apple Pay, and other forms of NFC or contactless payments.
With advancements in payment technology and security, this area is bound to keep on progressing. Your small business needs a POS system that can handle these advancements.
Not only do you want a POS system that can keep up with the evolving payment landscape, but you also want one that offers a seamless payment experience for your customer. What does that mean, exactly? It means that customers want their goods or services, they want stellar customer service, but they don’t really want to be bothered with the actual transaction part of the equation.
A great example of this is rideshare service, Grab. A customer uses the app to to hail a ride, hopefully the driver provides quality customer service, and when the customer arrives at the destination, payment is made with a few clicks. Or if the customer fails to initiate the payment, their card is automatically charged the fare within 24 hours. So, in this case, the actual payment portion of the transaction takes a back seat to the service and quality of the experience.
Ecommerce Integration In a market where 81 percent of shoppers will look up an item online before making an in-person purchase, ecommerce is more critical to a retailer’s success than ever.
The best retail POS systems allow you to integrate your brick and mortar business with an online webstore where shoppers can browse products and do their preliminary research before visiting your physical store location.
Integration with tried-and-true eCommerce sites like BigCommerce streamline inventory management by syncing items across both online and offline channels, so your inventory is automatically updated whenever you make a sale. Not only will local customers be able to browse your store digitally, but so will the rest of the world — significantly broadening your customer reach and visibility.
Learn How To Grow Your Business with BigCommerce and Vend
Reliable Hardware and Support Since modern POS software focuses on many of the operational aspects of running a small business, we tend to forget about the actual hardware. Whether you’re setting up a basic cash register to track sales or a robust iPad POS system to manage all aspects of your business, you’re going to need reliable hardware to get the job done.
While POS systems are often judged based on the software and functionality, let’s not forget about the company that provides the software, and ultimately customer support. Will customer care be available to you when you need to troubleshoot errors that can have an impact on your business? Regardless of how reliable a product is, it is important to partner with a point of sale provider that is equipped to offer dedicated support on a variety of channels. This can include email support, an FAQ page, tutorial content, chat, and phone support.
Intelligent Retail Store Management
By now, you know that the best POS system for retailers is one that simplifies the process of running a retail business. This includes day-to-day functions like processing transactions, managing inventory across online and offline channels, and pricing adjustments. However, this is only a portion of what a modern POS system can offer your small business.
Store management has always been important, but before the dawn of easy-to-use POS software, inventory and supply chain duties have always been handled in the traditional, hand on paper method. The problem? Paper can’t calculate totals, or handle short-term sales projections. The best retail POS software is software that empowers small business owners with this data so that they can make smarter business decisions with ease.
Inventory Management in Minutes Not Hours Imagine the ability to import and manage large inventories with thousands of SKUs within minutes, or set up order triggers so that you never run out of items or miss a sale. Or a platform that gives you the ability to identify best sellers, putting more money in your pocket and hours back in your workweek. A quality point of sale system makes this all possible.
One of the most overlooked wastes of time, money, and human capital is the lack of an efficient method for inventory tracking, yet countless retail stores unknowingly becoming victims of this pitfall. Your POS software should give you the tools to make real-time inventory management simple, fast, and reliable.
Whether you deal with a diverse range of specialized merchandise or you move huge quantities of product in your retail sector, a POS system should be able to handle the inventory management tasks that allow you to track costs and profit margins per item, differentiate between items that have a variety of arrangements, and identify items that are running low.
With quality retail POS software, you’ll never have to worry about having sufficient stock items. How’s that for peace of mind? With a comprehensive sales tracker integrated with your inventory charts, you can set-up stock alerts, automatic reordering based on the timetable for re-stocking and filling your shelves.
We can’t stress it enough: The best retail POS systems are customizable to your unique business needs so that you never have to sacrifice the efficiency of your retail operations.
Marketing Integrations that Boost Your Business Another huge store management chore is the curation of customer lists and marketing campaigns. Smaller retail stores don’t tend to have the margins in the early going to have a fully operational marketing department, so it’s likely that the marketing duties are going to rest squarely on your shoulders alone.
Thankfully, modern POS features can support your marketing