Whether you are thinking from the point of view of a merchant or a consumer, it is easy to underestimate the importance of having the right point of sale (POS) system in a retail establishment. While it may seem to be nothing more than a way to read your customers’ credit cards and complete payment transactions, this innovative combination of hardware and software can often be the brains of your entire operation.
Point of sale systems defined.
You can think of a modern POS system as the hub or center of the numerous operations involved in running a small to mid-sized business. In addition to concerning itself with processing payments, a good POS solution helps simplify customer, inventory, and employee management, among other tasks.
In order to function, a POS solution needs software, either located on your premises or in the cloud. If you choose the former option, you and your IT team will have the ability to customize many of your POS features to meet your unique business needs. On the downside, you will be primarily responsible for maintaining security and compliance with industry and data safety standards and regulations (for example PCI compliance). Deciding instead to use a cloud-based system shifts some of the compliance and security burdens on the third-party vendor you choose. In addition, your data remains safe even if disaster strikes at your physical location.
In addition to the software that functions as the “mind” of your POS, you need the physical hardware that enables you to run the system. In general, this hardware consists of some or all of the following:
- Visual display. This might be in the form of a computer monitor or a tablet. Using this, you can view the database and see screens that show sales reports, employee hours, and sales and inventory information.
- Barcode scanner. This handy device enables you to scan the codes on retail items as the customer is checking out. When the scanner is integrated with your inventory information, you can update stock counts in real time.
- EMV credit card reader. Essential in completing transactions, this type of reader works with today’s chip-equipped credit cards, allowing for a much more secure purchasing process. Merchants who do not update to this style of reader and only use their old-school magnetic stripe models will now be held financially liable in the event of fraud.
- Receipt printer. Although most modern POS systems allow receipts to be emailed directly to customers, many people still prefer to keep paper copies.
- Cash drawer. Your customers might not be using cash as frequently as they once did, however, you still need to accommodate those who do. A cash drawer gives you a place to safely store all of those bills and coins.
- Contactless reader. Today’s consumers might leave their wallets at home, but most are never far away from their smartphones. Modern hand-held devices are now equipped with built-in digital wallets that allow for fast and secure touchless payments through the use of near-field communication (NFC) technology.
The POS advantage: How this solution can streamline your business.
Have you ever wished that you had another partner, someone with multiple talents who never complained and simply did whatever you asked? Most likely, finding a human being who fits this description will never occur. However, in some ways, your POS system can be just as good as a human employee. Below are just some of the ways that the right point of sale solution can quickly become indispensable to your operations.
- Provide in-depth sales reports. You want to know more than what has been bought and when. Your POS system should be right there anytime to give you the detailed information you need. This includes products, who sold them and when, the total cost of the items sold, profit percentage, net profit, gross, and profit margin. The charts that your POS generates can help you to provide recognition to employees who excel, training to those who need it, and customizable reports that you can quickly generate and show to both staff and investors. Best of all, technological advances now allow these reports to be requested and printed from anywhere. In other words, if you can’t sleep because you are worried about whether you are running out of an inventory item, the right POS solution will have your back. Within seconds, you can have a customized print-out right in your hands.
- Inventory management. Simply put, this task involves keeping track of the items you sell. Your POS solution will enable you to digitally scan and count products, give unique serial numbers to each, manage stock across physical locations, detect when goods need to be reordered, and consolidate purchases to maximize efficiency in ordering.
- Customer relationships management. Initiating, cultivating, and maintaining long-term, positive relationships with customers is the best way to keep them coming back and spreading the word about your business to their contacts. Your POS system enables you to build a database of past buyers. Once that is in place, you can attach purchases to the buyers who made them, store purchase histories, and keep in contact with valued customers to let them know about new products or promotions. You can even reward repeat guests with coupons, freebies, and other incentives.
- Employee management. Thanks to your new POS partner, your day-to-day relationships with staff members will be much smoother. With speed and accuracy, you can easily add new hires to your system, create and update employees’ schedules depending on your sales priorities, email schedule information to staff, keep track of staff hours, and track each person’s performance over specific periods.
- Fraud detection. Even the most thorough staff training is not always enough. Identity theft and other types of criminal activity need to be anticipated and combatted on as many fronts as possible. Fortunately, your modern POS systems come equipped with address and check verification features that can intercept hackers and fraudsters before they do any damage to your business or your customers.
- Online reputation management and marketing tools. Whether you run a physical store, a website, or both, customer reviews have fast become a means of attracting new visitors. However, it can be a challenge to find the time to search the internet for buyer feedback so that you can respond to complaints and raves, and post positive testimonials. The good news is that your POS hardware can effortlessly search the internet for relevant customer rants and raves and even submit brand-appropriate replies.
As you can see, the features contained in a contemporary POS solution can transform operations that once were tedious and time-consuming into fast, fun, and easy tasks.
The importance of a POS system for your current and future business.
Sit back, relax, and think about how your work life could look once you have brought a smart POS system, your silent but very competent new partner, onto your team. The advantages this technology can offer you are quite compelling.
- Efficient purchasing processes that lead to happy customers and staff members.
- Reduced human error.
- Heightened productivity with a system that is intuitive to learn and easy to use.
- The ability to meet customer needs and accept a wide variety of payments.
- Simplified inventory management leading to greater efficiency and less waste.
- Enhanced accuracy for employee time reporting.
- Reports that are completely customizable, data-rich, and easy to generate.
- Streamlined accounting processes with no need to sort through paper receipts.
Once you have incorporated a modern POS system into your day-to-day business functions, you might soon wonder how you ever functioned without one.
Taking the next step.
Now that you’ve discovered some of the many advantages a POS system can bring to your business, you may be wondering how to go about picking the right one that will meet your unique needs. Most importantly, do your research, and don’t jump at the first system you see. After all, you will be in close contact with whatever option you pick for years to come. In addition, ask the following questions:
- What features are must-haves? Which are negotiable?
- Do you want a system that enables you to choose which payment processor you use, or would you be happy with a proprietary system that is already tied in with a particular processor?
- Would it make more sense for you to lease your equipment or buy it? Each option has its pros and cons.
Running a business possesses its share of both rewards and challenges. Bringing a modern POS solution into the mix can maximize the former while reducing the impact of the latter. Best of all, “hiring” this silent partner can heighten customer satisfaction and leave you with more time to do what you do best: Grow your company.