Your point-of-sale system is like a base camp for all your transactions, and if you find the right one it will act as the starting point for your journey as a retail small business owner. So how do you find the right one?
Ask yourself one question: what do I need for my business? Don’t listen to the sales rep who says that you need “the biggest and best POS”, or the one that’s “packed with features”. Getting sold the same system used by shopping malls makes no sense when you’re a small seller of locally-produced pyjamas.You want the right solution that’s adapted to your specific line of work, and one that will not only help you to grow, but adapt and improve as you do. If you want to know what’s right for you and your retail business, begin by asking yourself 8 simple questions:
1. How do you manage inventory?
Where and how do you keep a record of all your stock? Would you like to upload lots of products to a library in one go, or enter them individually? Would it be helpful to receive notifications when your products start to run low? Would you like to assign pictures to your stock so that you can clearly see what you’re selling? Does your current inventory management system calculate a running value of all your products together?
2. Is your POS cloud-based?
Traditional POS systems have been bulky, with lots of apparatus needed, and the potential for disaster if your hardware gets damaged or stolen. With a cloud-based POS, every single payment you take is safe and all your inventory records and sales data are stored in a place where they can’t be destroyed. In addition, a cloud-based system can be run on smartphone or tablet, so it takes up less space on your counter top.
The POS checklist
- EASY. How easy is the system to use? Remember, you might not be the only one using it.
- INTEGRATION. Cloud-connected and working smoothly with your other apps, that’s how it should be. It’s 2017!
- MOBILE. Can you bring the system to a market or a future pop-up store?
- PRICING. Watch out for providers trying to lock you into long-term contracts – and carefully compare the rates among the growing numbers of providers.
- SERVICE. Is it accessible when you need it and do the reviews say?
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3. How do you interact with your customers?
Do you plan to run some customer loyalty programmes? Would you like to collect your customer’s email addresses so you can send them updates? If so, choose a POS that allows you to input customer info while you’ve got them in front of you. Would you like insights into when your customers shop, or how much they buy at different times of day, or year? A good POS system can collect sales data and give you valuable insights into customer behaviour. Use what you learn to make better retail business decisions.
4. How do you handle returns and exchanges?
Handling returns or exchanges can be complicated, so how can you streamline the process? Does your POS offer an easy way to refund cash, or credit an invoice? Will your stock be updated automatically, or do you have to manually re-enter returned products?
Finally, old-school cash registers don’t export information digitally — they rely on printed receipts as well as printed X and Z reports at the end of the day, which then have to be consolidated manually. A modern point-of-sale system does all of these things automatically and with no mistakes, so it’s crucial for better bookkeeping.
5. What hardware would you like?
If you never want to miss a sale, you need to offer your customers a variety of payment methods. A card reader will ensure you catch every customer who doesn’t have cash, and is an invaluable bit of kit. Some point-of-sale systems will integrate with a variety of card readers and others won’t integrate at all, so do your research or buy a card reader and POS system from the same provider.
6. How much do you value support?
There will always be issues that you can’t sort out on your own. What do you do if the internet goes down while you’re working? What happens if one of your customers is using a stolen credit card? The sooner you can sort out any problems, the sooner you can start making sales again, so make sure your POS provider:
- … is affordable. Do they offer a free phone support option?
- … is available. Do their support hours match your schedule?
- … is credible. Can they answer your questions quickly and knowledgeably?
7. How tech savvy are you?
Will you be able to set up the POS system yourself, or is it too complex? And will your intern, who has zero experience of POS systems, understand – or will you have to invest in time to train them?
8. What do the reviews say?
Google around and speak to other small business owners. What’s their impression of the company you’re considering? Are they using the POS themselves, and will they let you play around with their app? Don’t forget comparison websites such as Merchant Maverick, who can give you an objective overview of the product.
And the first impression …
Well, let’s draw a parallel to going on a date or checking out a new apartment. You often get a feeling for whether you like – or dislike – the person or place straight away. Don’t underestimate the first impression you get for your POS provider. If you immediately dislike the customer representative, imagine your chances of getting good support later on down the road.
Still finding everything about POS systems complicated? Check out What is a POS system to get rid of the confusion.
iZettle Go is a straightforward and smart point-of-sale solution. It’s also completely free!