A question I’m asked frequently is how to select the best POS system software. It’s important because a point of sale system for small business can make the difference between knowing what is going on and being left behind.
Understanding POS systems is easy; they monitor every function of your store and interface with all data around your customers. The more data you have and interconnect, the more you can do with the employees and merchandise you have and the better you can target your customers - that's how you grow your retail sales. I thought everyone understood that...
But I had breakfast with a group of retailers and I asked them what kind of retail software point of sale (POS) systems they were using.
One sheepishly replied, “None.”
I tried to wrap my head around why a retail store owner would say that. His excuses were everything from not wanting employees to know how much they were selling, to fear of new technology, to liking the simplicity of just using a cash drawer. Yikes!
Successful retail stores rely heavily on their software from online fulfillment systems to buy online pick-up in store (BOPIS), from tracking loyalty and employee hours to marketing via text and email messaging.
It is impossible for a retailer to grow without investment in software and technology. A recent article by PC Magazine found negligible differences between five major POS providers, so it’s not that they aren’t all good, it’s how their offering works for you.
Therefore, the first question you should ask a potential POS vendor is simple, How can your software improve the efficiency and profitability of our business?
From their initial answer, you’ll want to ask the following list of questions. And these aren’t just random questions but ones I validated from retailers who wished they’d asked many of these questions before they purchased their system. They even added some of their own.
Be sure you gauge your prospective new POS provider’s answers using a grading system as you ask these questions:
A full featured POS system can show you what the busiest times of your week are so you know how to schedule. With robust reporting features, you can understand which are your best-selling items and which are not. You can also learn the percentage of customers who are new versus returning. But remember, reports are only good if you actually use them. You want the information you need most to be automatically emailed to you each week so you can spot trends and opportunities in both merchandise and employee performance. These are the questions to ask in this area:
A big component of any POS system is how they take care of you after the sale – not the sales representative’s initial pitch. You don’t want to have to call support just to get the information you’re looking for. So ask these questions:
A great POS system will collect data into what is called a Customer Relationship Management Program (CRM) so you can interact with customers on an ongoing basis. Being able to send emails or text messages has become imperative for brick and mortar retailers looking to compete with online retailers. Ask these questions:
POS systems in the future will be simply reading RFID tags embedded in each item so associates will be unable to change item prices on their own. You will also have a reader which scans the store in a few minutes and inventories the complete store. Until then, you’ll want to have to do as little as possible to maintain your inventory. Questions to ask here are:
Don’t forget, the first function of your POS is still to function as a great register. The days of a separate credit card machine are over. Your new POS should be able to integrate with your credit card processor so all data can be tracked and recorded. Ask these questions:
Beware of these Common POS Frustrations for Retailers
The truth is finding the right POS system for your needs is not an easy process, and there are a lot of variables. Expect to pay for convenience and intuitive interfaces as well as additional services. But like retail sales training, don’t see the purchase as a cost but as an investment.
No one system is perfect right out of the box, but the more confident you are about your business future, the more you will look for what new tools you can use to engage your customers more often and at a higher, more personalized manner.
Everyone has an outside passion from their job. You know well-made tools make your passion whether it is building, gardening, or cooking more efficient. A fully featured POS system capable of mobile payments and sophisticated CRM tools can help you know your customer better, stay on top of your inventory better, and make you more money by avoiding out-of-stocks and database errors.
Much like when looking for a new doctor, many people rely on their contacts for a recommendation before jumping in to find a new one. POS systems can be overwhelming at the breadth and depth of their abilities and your eyes can glaze over quickly.
The world of POS systems is dominated by a number of big players who usually lead the developmental charge. Here are some service providers you might be interested in checking out in no particular order:
Do some quick research, decide on two you want to checkout, and use these questions as you balance the features you need with the cost and convenience you want.
Where does your store excel and what do you need to fix? Find out where you stand against best practices in retail sales training, marketing, social media and more with The Retail Doctor's Retail Assessment Tool.