For most retailers and restaurant operators, a new POS system represents a major investment. While selecting such a system requires due diligence, the task shouldn’t be a scary one. Taking the following steps will make the process easier and ensure that you choose a POS system that’s right for your operation.
Identify business needs. Ask employees which features they would like to see in your next POS system and which hardware/software capabilities they believe will help them better fulfill their daily responsibilities. Compile a list of features you believe are POS system “must-haves,” and which would be nice to have if your budget can accommodate them. To determine which feature belongs in each category, pinpoint the issues you want to address, and the problems you want to solve, with the POS system. Ask yourself:
- How much time do you devote to operations-related tasks? Is it excessive?
- Which initiatives would you like to undertake to grow your business?
Polling staff and creating the above-mentioned lists may entail effort, but will prove worthwhile. How? By preventing you from wasting time and money on a solution that does not have the capabilities you require, or incorporates features you simply cannot use.
Determine hardware requirements. Looking at the amount of space available for the new POS system will allow you to calculate the number of terminals you need. Then, decide which type of POS system interface (e.g., touchscreen-based, keyboard, or scanner) you would like. Do the same with peripherals and add-ons, such as tablets, PIN pads, biometric readers, and data backup equipment.
Consider, too, how you want to process payments. Certain factors will affect your decision. The increasing popularity of mobile POS and mobile wallets comprises one key example: Mobile POS and mobile wallet acceptance will necessitate the ability to accept contactless payments using near-field communications (NFC) compatible POS system components. Another such factor is the advent of the Europay/MasterCard/Visa liability shift, which goes into effect this October and renders merchants liable for fraudulent card-present transactions unless their POS system accommodates chip-enabled credit and debit cards.
Set a budget. Many variables come into play here. Start with your operation’s annual sales volume. Your POS system investment will be a percentage of this figure (2% to 3% for retailers and 1% to 1.5% for restaurateurs). Factor in ongoing hardware and software maintenance costs and training, as well as the total cost of ownership and return on investment.
Weigh purchasing options. You can buy or lease a POS system, as well as sign up for software-as-a-service (SaaS). Each approach has advantages and disadvantages. For example, purchasing a POS system involves a large upfront investment, but you own the equipment forever. Leasing means smaller monthly payments, but depreciation and eventual system obsolescence may make it a more costly path to follow. These advantages and disadvantages are only the tip of the iceberg.
Kick off your plan. This should include setting a time frame for purchasing, deploying, and training employees on your new POS system. It should also encompass creating a list of vendors whose POS system offerings match your requirements.
Assess vendors. Apply stringent criteria here. Does each vendor have experience and understand your type of business? What about financial stability and support for your operation as it grows? Are comprehensive installation and training services, technical support, and periodic software updates available?
Demo vendor finalists’ POS systems in your store or restaurant. Again, look carefully for compatibility with your list of “must-have” features. Additionally, scrutinize each for ease of use, reliability, and scalability.
No matter the number of retail stores or restaurants you operate, choosing the right POS system is essential to short and long-term success. For more information about the selection process we’ve just discussed, download our POS System Buyer’s Guide.