A solid POS system can elevate a business instantly, impressing customers with the ease of checkout and simplifying record-keeping for management. It’s a critical investment, able to position any sized business toward a profitable future.
Still find yourself a little confused about the POS system? Not a problem. Here’s our breakdown on the elusive system:
What is a POS System?
A POS stands for Point of Sale.
It is a terminal comprised of both hardware and software used to:
- Process sales (including cash, checks and credit cards)
- Order and monitor inventory
- Manage rewards and coupons
- Track customers and employees
The hardware can include:
- Cash register
- Touch screen/monitor
- Customer display pole (the little screen that shows items as they ring up, loved by extreme couponers)
- Barcode scanner
- Electronic/magnetic card reader
- Receipt printer
This hardware isn’t standard; it’s designed to grow with your business. You may start out with the minimum, but you can easily add additional peripherals as you expand. For a great breakdown on the basics of hardware check out this article (Yahoo Small Business Advisor). Additionally, a POS system can be a large, highly customized solution for a bigger retailer – or it can be as simple as an iPhone.
POS systems are trending toward cloud-based solutions, which require less costly design and upkeep. Using a cloud is less expensive, and the data is available anywhere there is an internet connection. This is incredibly helpful for smaller or new merchants who may not desire to make the hefty commitment to a dedicated terminal. Even still, using a cloud also means that customer data is kept secure by the powerful servers used by the POS provider. This way, a merchant isn’t left to figure it out alone – or to worry about potential breaches. Forte, for example, uses redundant and geographically diverse tier 1 data centers to store their solutions. This means that we not only have several centers, but they’re in several places, too.
Software for either type of system can usually be easily integrated with your accounting books for maximum efficiency by importing and exporting key financial data. In a single click, you can export everything to Quickbooks and be done for the day.
You can also choose even more flexible mobile options, which include portable credit card readers that attach to devices (check out ours) that come with real-time reporting capabilities. These dynamic solutions are revolutionizing the electronic payments ecosystem, initializing a fascinating new landscape for the industry.
Why use a POS System?
A POS can help you make more money in the long run.
Lots of merchants are nervous about the big expenditure that implementation can be – but installing a dedicated POS terminal really can eradicate future headaches. Buyerzone says this: “A POS System is rarely totally unnecessary – most often, the only question is how soon it can pay for itself.”
A POS can cut down on both time and money as it collects data securely on customers, inventory and employees. This can reduce internal shrinkage and improve accuracy. In fact, $224 billion is lost due to excess inventory in the U.S., while $45 billion gets sacrificed because merchants don’t have the correct inventory in stock (according to the National Retail Federation).
It will also cut down on excessive paperwork, eradicating the need for the added storage space and hours of organization. Some systems enable merchants to set alerts, so that they are made aware of dwindling inventory and can reorder preemptively. You can also track important information and trends about your customers, opening the doors to valuable reports and insights.
The initial investment will provide a bigger return, and there are plenty of deals out there. Pricing can vary on product components, so be sure to carefully evaluate your needs (as further explained in the next point).
Solutions need to be based on your business.
Determining which solution is best for your business can help you navigate through the complexity of POS system offerings. You can save yourself the headache of a potential mismatch if you organize yourself upfront.
Discern your business and your specific needs ahead of time. Make a list of features you’re interested in, and do some research. Observe your operation closely. Choosing the wrong system is typically why the bad reputation for POS exists; businesses that aren’t wise here can end up extremely frustrated, locked into a solution that doesn’t fit too far down the rabbit hole.
Once you do decide what you need, we have packages that range from the minimal, perfect for new merchants, to the comprehensive, ideal for enterprise class organizations. They are also customizable, so you can pick and choose precisely what you need.
If you don’t know where to start, you can always meet with your accountant to get a handle on what type of solution is best suited to your business. Or poll other business owners – see what features they can’t live without.
How to Use a POS System
Dependent on the level of POS system you choose to acquire, you may have a dedicated installer who will remain on-site with you during the first few weeks of use. This will make setup fairly easy for you. The installer will be able to situate all of the POS components into a successful operation by carefully analyzing and testing your current infrastructure. They will likely provide training and support to you and the employees that will be using the POS.
Counter to these more comprehensive, dedicated setups are the most simplistic of how-tos. According to eHow, the entire POS can be set up in 5 simple steps. The steps basically include entering inventory, attaching all of the peripherals and entering restrictions. Easy as pie! These systems are likely to be simple peripherals that attach to the computer you already have, and typically come standard with specialized software for running the POS. Choosing a mobile POS is even simpler: Our mobile solution plugs easily into the base of your device, and it only requires a quick free app download.
Using the POS is typically quite intuitive. Most employees will be able to pick it up after minimal training, as the systems are designed to make it easy on their human components. Typically, you will scan in a barcode or select a product, choose transaction and payment type – and swipe. POS systems are getting even simpler to use since the market is demanding business solutions that integrate powerful technology with thoughtful adaptability, scalable capabilities, and uncomplicated, reliable functioning.
Keep in mind that most POS providers will offer some type of long-term technical support with their systems. Be sure to ask exactly what support is included in your purchase, so that you know where to turn in the case things go awry.
In the end…
A good POS can offer a host of business tools designed to optimize revenue and simplify management tasks. With a little determination and research, the system can be affordable, easy-to-use, and customizable for any business type or size.
Photo credit: Jonathan Rubio H.