Point of Sale (or POS) systems used to be much simpler, and far less effective than the POS systems of today, which can perform a multitude of various basic functions – and that’s before you begin integrating them with other software services and hardware peripherals.
Whether you’re considering picking up a POS system for your business for the first time or are looking at upgrading an existing one, these are the five main features that your POS system should offer for it to be effective.
1. Easy to navigate software
Time is money, and the less time that your store employees are trudging through poorly-designed menus, the faster they can be helping customers complete transactions. Take a look at any POS system’s software to see whether it has a user-friendly interface designed for minimum clicks that’s capable of processing a transaction from start to finish.
And then, your software needs to be updated to the latest version – something which is done automatically (are much more easily) through a cloud-based POS. And that’s just your main countertop (or master terminal). If you’re also using mobile devices as portable POS terminals around your shop floor, you’ll want to ensure that your POS also has easy-to-use mobile apps that are simple enough for staff to get to grips with quickly.
Opting for a POS system that easily integrates with third-party solutions allows you to hook it up to integrations such as accounting software, payroll, and email marketing. You will experience greater efficiency by allowing various apps to share information automatically, eliminating the need to manually download and upload reports, customer lists, and other data.
2. Accommodate multiple payment methods
As its name suggests, a POS system should allow a store’s workers to take payments from customers – hopefully using easy-to-navigate software. When transactions are made, your POS system should add taxes and calculate the total amount of sale. While cash remains popular (albeit increasingly less so in the digital age), you will need to ensure that your POS can cater for a wide range of payment options, especially credit card processing.
Many mobile POS vendors will issue their card readers for free in exchange for taking a transaction fee each time something is sold. Look out for ones that offer membership-based pricing, as this means that you’ll get fees that stay the same even if you process more transactions or higher-value orders as your company scales. Of course, in addition to accepting money from customers, you need the ability to issue returns and refunds.
Any business must have a return policy which should then be reflected in its POS system, which needs to be able to alter inventory and sales accordingly. That could be anything from a return sent back to the original payment method to a credit receipt or gift certificate.
3. Inventory management
Inventory management (ERP for larger businesses) is a core feature of POS systems as it is so closely tied to sales transactions. You need all the sales data you can get to run your business efficiently, and having an inventory management feature helps you keep items restocked while ensuring that ones that are not so popular are switched out for something else.
With inventory management you can input your existing stock levels for each product when you set up your POS for the first time. And from that moment on it will update itself after every order is made. A cloud-based POS system lets you manage your stock in real-time while telling you the amount of goods your business (or store) owns over a given period of time. At the same time, you need an inventory management system to work in tandem with customer orders.
Customers will inevitably ask you to put products aside to buy them later, so you need to know an inventory management module to check if you have stock of it in that store or another one, which would allow it to be transported and sold to the customer. This is useful for maintaining effective customer satisfaction because it helps stores meet customers’ needs while ensuring they are satisfied with their purchases. Importantly, it leads to additional revenue for the company at the end of the day.
In addition to seeing how your business’s products are selling, you’ll want to keep an eye on employee performance. Check to see whether a POS can break down employee reports into various useful ways – from total sales to sales by the hour; conversion rates; and commission owed.
Detailed reports should be able to help you easily see what an employee has sold, including the average price per customer and transactions per hour. Modern POS systems allow business owners to access valuable report data on employee and general business performance from any device with an internet connection, so your POS system should come with mobile applications that make digesting reports easy on any regular-sized smartphone or tablet.
5. Customer support and training
Any time a POS fails, it can cost your business money. To minimize downtime, consider purchasing a system that comes with customer support and training included as standard. You’ll get the level of service that you pay for; more affordable POS systems allow you to leave a message and wait for a response from a vendor representative, but if you spend more then you will get immediate support 24/7 – which can be worth paying the extra.