Choosing the Right POS System for Your Business
But, where do you begin? What functionalities are most important and how does cost, setup and maintenance factor into the final choice? While individual business needs will vary across industries, here are some key things to consider when choosing the best POS system for your business.
Consideration #1: Service, Retail or Restaurant?
While there may be niche markets that do not fall into any of the three above mentioned categories, most business owners will be either service, retail (product) or restaurant based. In many ways, POS systems are designed to accommodate all of these business models, but some have more features and functionality that is better, depending on what category you classify in. TouchBistro, for example, is one design that is specific to restaurant point of sale systems. ShopKeep, on the other hand, is a specialized retail POS system. By clearly identifying your business in one of these three areas, you will be better suited to view each potential POS system from the vantage point of your particular industry.
Consideration #2: Do you Carry Inventory?
Another component to consider when shopping for the perfect POS system for your business is whether or not you need functions and analytics that track and organize inventory. If the answer is “yes,” then you should focus on products that can show you things like how much inventory is on hand, plus provide data on which inventory items run out of stock quickly or those that do not move at all. For business owners seeking a retail POS system, this will be especially important to ensure you are buying not only the right items, but the optimal amount of those items as well. If you own a service-related business that don’t heavily rely on inventory, or have no inventory at all, paying for these features may be a waste of your money.
Consideration #3: Who are your Customers?
Understanding who your customers are may seem like a marketing strategy more than a consideration for a POS system, but the truth is that they often go hand in hand.
Your business likely relies on repeat customer purchases, so having a point of sale system that helps track these customer’s buying habits can make a big difference in your bottom line. By understanding metrics like how often an average customer makes a purchase, what products or services are customer favorites and what promotions generate the most interest, it will be easier to meeting customers’ needs more effectively. Conversely, if your business is more focused on new business or “one time” sales as opposed to repeat buyers, then these analytics may be helpful but not as valuable or as necessary when seeking a POS system.
Consideration #4: What about the Employees?
A final area that should be evaluated before choosing your POS system is the employee structure of your business. If you are a mid to large sized company with multiple shifts, locations, and/or departments, then having a POS system that can help you track what is going on with your employees will be a lifesaver. Let’s take the example of a large restaurant and bar with 4 busy locations in different parts of the city. Because you likely won’t know each employee by name and face, and interact with them all on a daily or even weekly basis, you will likely need your restaurant point of sale system to help you know information about each person. What employees need extra training? Which ones consistently meet sales or time goals? Are your shifts adequately staffed for the time of day and business demands? All these questions and more can be answered and tracked with the right point of sale system. For businesses that have a much smaller employee base, however, or who tend to work more with independent contractors or less traditional employee models, these features may not be worth the cost.
At the end of the day, choosing the right point of sale system is highly dependent on you, as a business owner, honestly and accurately evaluating your needs. By taking time to consider the above four items and prioritize these functionalities by order of importance to you, it will be easier to see which POS system aligns their features with your needs.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.