If you choose it well, your point-of-sale (POS) system can become an invaluable tool. Think of it as the Swiss army knife in your arsenal, always there in many capacities to make your life easier and to contribute to your commercial success as well as to the satisfaction of your customers.
What Is a POS System?
On the surface, your POS is a way to accept customer payments from a variety of sources, including chip, swipe and debit cards. However, that is only the beginning. The benefits of your POS are manifold:
- You can seamlessly accept customer payments in many forms
- Thanks to your reputable payment processing company, you can count on transactions that are not only fast but also secure. The adoption of chip technology in today’s EMV cards makes payments even safer.
- Sales reporting in real time. With your POS, sales reports are in your hands with just a few clicks. Poring over spreadsheets can become a distant memory.
- Make your POS’ back office capabilities go to work for you. Payroll, inventory management and customer loyalty tasks can become automated, reducing the chance of human error and helping you make the best use of your staff’s precious time.
Common POS Hardware
What can you expect when you unwrap your brand new POS? Most systems will come with the following hardware:
- Register screen. This enables you to clearly see your transactions as they are taking place.
- Barcode scanner. You will be amazed at how fast and error-free your checkouts can become with the use of barcodes and a device to quickly scan them at checkout. What’s more, the nightmare of inventory management is made much simpler when you and your staff can simply swipe codes instead of painstakingly writing down names and numbers.
- Credit card reader. Your new POS will be capable of both reading a card when it is swiped and when it is dipped. The latter occurs if your customer has an EMV card equipped with a chip.
- Your receipt printer gives your customer proof of purchase in case an item needs to be returned. Most modern POS solutions also give you the option to email a paperless receipt.
- Cash drawer. At the heart of your POS, your cash drawer can be either terminal or printer driven and can connect to your receipt printer. Having a cash drawer that is easy to use is vital.
Must-Have Capabilities of a POS System
Today’s POS solutions are both multi-faceted and affordable. Be sure you make the most of this critical business investment.
- Sales reporting. With these capabilities, your POS can help you project your inventory months in advance. By generating reports on how you did during last year’s holidays, for instance, you can make smarter plans for the one to come. What’s more, you can buy less of what didn’t sell and more of what did.
- Customer management. Your POS has the potential to house an entire database of customer information that can be used to entice them back to your store again and again. Take a little time to gather email addresses and other data, and you can easily send out promotions for flash sales and customer loyalty.
- Inventory control. Let your POS monitor and adjust your inventory count after each sale. The days of running out of products because you forgot to reorder or buying too much can be over if you use your POS inventory capabilities to their full advantage.
- Employee tools. Imagine automating your payroll and employee time sheets. Picture how helpful it would be if schedules were always organized and at your fingertips in your POS system so that you could easily make changes to optimize efficiency. Many of today’s POS solutions make this possible.
Choosing the Best POS System for Your Business
Your first step is to determine what you want your POS to include. Some models are best for e-commerce companies, others work optimally for brick-and-mortar retailers, and others are great multitaskers. What will you be asking your POS to do for you?
Cost is always a consideration. Practice due diligence and shop around to find the system that contains the features you want while being as affordable as possible. Many business owners consult with their peers to see what they are using.
Be sure you choose a system that allows you to keep records of what is most important to you, including sales reports and payroll.
Before obtaining a POS, be sure you spend time discussing all of its features. Of paramount importance is the security of the system. A reputable vendor will ensure that the system’s software is upgraded to address any ongoing security threats.
By the same token, choose hardware that will stand the test of time. If your business colleagues have issues with a particular company’s equipment, consider buying something different.
Finally, know exactly what you are signing if there is a contract involved. For instance, some processors may provide free equipment if you meet volume requirements and/or sign a contract. If you are given a contract to sign, be sure you understand all of its caveats before making the commitment.
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