If your small business has a strong brand, fantastic products and services, a knowledgeable staff that offers five-star customer service, and competitive prices, could it end up failing? Unless your business provides its customers with an excellent buying experience, it very well could. The point of sale is one of the most essential steps in the shopping journey, and it needs to meet the demands and expectations of your customers. POS systems can help make this happen.
By equipping your business with the right point-of-sale (POS) system, your customers can make their purchases quickly and securely using whatever form of payment they prefer. This can result in more sales and happier customers, both of which can lead to financial success. In addition, a POS system gives you an advantage because it allows you to use the latest payment-related technologies as they become available. Choosing a system can be a daunting task because so many options are available, but this Balboa Capital blog post can help. It is the ultimate guide to POS systems.
History of the cash register.
How sales transactions are facilitated has come a long way. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, merchants used mechanical cash registers made of brass or cast iron. They were equipped with metal keys imprinted with different denominations, and a bell would sound each time a sale was rung up. You have probably seen these types of cash registers in old movies or television shows, or perhaps in antique shops.
As the years went on, cash registers became more advanced and more secure. Printed customer receipts became a standard feature, electric motors were added, and cast-metal cases were used to deter theft. Then, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, cash registers went through a dramatic change. The retail industry shifted to electronic registers that used a barcoding scanning system to track sales and process non-cash payments such as credit cards and checks.
Today, advances in digital technology have transformed cash registers like never before. Retailers, restaurants, e-commerce companies, and brick-and-mortar businesses in all industries are using POS systems to process transactions, manage inventory, and provide valuable insights relating to sales revenue and analytics.
What is a POS system?
A POS system, also referred to as a point-of-purchase (POP) system, is the technology that completes transactions between customers and businesses. They have a simple interface with easy-to-use touchpads and a credit/debit card slot. However, behind the scenes, POS systems are highly complex and supported by many technologies, including checkout terminals, barcode scanners, secure servers, and other software and hardware.
Choosing a POS system.
There are POS systems for businesses in every industry, and you can tailor your system with custom add-ons and integrations. For example, suppose you own a restaurant. In that case, your system can feature your menu and a built-in reservation program, as well as tools that help you manage your food and beverage inventory, employees’ hours, and marketing efforts.
When choosing a system, it is good to research the available options and avoid purchasing the first one that catches your eye. Some important things to consider are the type of business, your monthly transaction volume, and the system’s features and functionalities. Moreover, make sure the systems you consider will work with your customer relationship management (CRM) system and any third-party apps or software that your business is currently using.
One way to create a shortlist of POS system vendors is to ask other business owners for recommendations and read customer reviews online. You can also call vendors to learn more about their technologies and ask for online demonstrations. Finally, seeing the POS system “in action” will give you a good idea of how easy it is for you and your employees to use it.
Think of the future.
If you plan to expand your business in the future with a new location, e-commerce capabilities, or a customer loyalty program, you should look at POS systems that can grow with your business. The last thing you want is to sign a long-term contract for a system only to find out that it cannot adapt to your business’s growth.
The amount you spend on a POS system will depend on several factors, such as your business’s size, monthly sales volume, and the number of stations/pop-up stalls you need. In addition, the cost will increase if you want to add additional features and capabilities. These include CRM integration, online orders, delivery management, inventory tracking, gift card programs, and employee payroll management.
There are also hardware-related costs associated with a POS system purchase. Depending on your unique needs, you might have to invest in servers, routers, handheld devices, receipt printers, and card readers. If you do not want to use your capital on a one-time purchase, consider POS system financing. This is a popular option among small business owners in all industries nationwide.
The initial setup cost and monthly subscription fee of a POS system will vary based on the provider. It is also essential to know that some providers take a small percentage of your sales, so read the fine print in the contract to understand how much you will be paying.
Reach for the cloud.
Today’s most innovative POS systems are cloud-based, and they have several key benefits over traditional “legacy” systems. First, cloud-based systems store data on secure third-party services, not on fixed servers located in your place of business. If your servers malfunction, fall from a rack or become damaged due to a flood or fire, your important data might get lost forever. That is not the case when your data is stored in the cloud.
Next, a cloud-based system lets you access your necessary data anywhere, anytime, with a secure Internet connection. As a result, you can stay on top of your business’s transactions, inventory, and more even if you are offsite. In addition, a cloud-based system enables you to ring up sales in places other than a checkout counter, such as tableside (restaurant) or on the sales floor (retail shop). Pop-up shops, food trucks, and other businesses without brick-and-mortar locations can also benefit from cloud-based systems.
Finally, you will not need to worry about having the latest and greatest version of your cloud-based POS system. Most providers make regular updates and enhancements to their software as needed.