5 Factors to Consider When Choosing a POS System

How your customers pay for your services is a big decision in organizing your small business. Here's how to do it right.
Swiping on Silver POS system
Cost per credit card transaction is an important thing to remember when it comes to choosing a POS system. (Photo: NCR Silver)

Your cash register isn’t there just to do math and store money anymore. New point-of-sale (POS) systems seek to become an essential part of how you run your business, from accounting to integration with apps to marketing.

When considering which one is right for you, think about how it can positively affect both what’s happening behind the scenes and how your customers perceive your business. Cost of the system itself, ease of use for employees and customers, how it integrates with necessary software – these are just the foundational concerns. As competition grows among tablet­based POS systems, it’s important to know how your chosen system will integrate with your specific business needs and customer base.

1. How much does it cost?

When starting a business, every penny counts. You’re paying for licenses, stocking inventory and training employees – so you don’t want your POS system to cost a fortune. You’ll have to purchase an iPad that will ensure considerable speed, but beyond that, the system should provide great functionality – tracking inventory and employee hours, integrate with accounting software, map sales, and have a built-­in customer loyalty program – while not putting a squeeze on your budget.

Also consider the cost per credit card transaction. A high additional percentage per transaction will cut into your bottom line or increase costs unfavorably to customers. It’s rare that anyone has cash on them anymore, and not looking closely into how each POS system’s rates will impact your revenue would be a costly mistake.

2. Will it be easy for your employees and customers to use?

Elle Ditta, owner of Brooklyn boutique Mind / Matter, says her No. 1 concern was that her POS system be user­-friendly. “It should be pretty much foolproof to train anyone who uses an iPhone,” she says. Training employees is time-­consuming and doesn’t bring in sales.

A POS system that works as easily as any app that an employee is accustomed to using on his or her smartphone is an absolute necessity.

They’ll be using it not only to take orders, but to track their hours. Confusion when clocking in or out isn’t going to be a good sign to customers waiting in line. In addition, when a customer has to tip, sign and select whether they want a receipt, you want even the most tech­-phobic person to be guided along simply by the software.

3. How will it integrate with industry­-standard software?

Are you a QuickBooks expert who doesn’t want to learn another accounting software program? “My new furniture partners use QuickBooks, so we have that app on our iPad, too, to ring up their orders,” Ditta says. It would be beneficial, then, to make sure your POS system doesn’t work with a niche program that would be a headache to learn. If you’re using other apps on your tablet that could improve the functionality of your business, you’ll want to be sure that you can use them in conjunction with the POS system.

4. Does it offer robust features?

A POS system that will work specifically with your business is key. Restaurants and retail stores, for example, have different needs, as do food trucks and salons. Will your POS system work when there’s no wireless connectivity at the beach, where your food truck is serving for the day? Can it remind you when someone is due for a root touch-­up on their hair so you can send over a friendly email, perhaps with a coupon? These are the small touches that will make your business run smoothly, so you can focus on what you do best.

5. What does it look like?

This system will be something your customers interact with every time they come in and pay via credit or debit card. You’ll want something that fits into your overall aesthetic so well that the customer barely notices it’s there. The move toward tablet-­based POS systems has made sleeker, digital registers the norm, so it shouldn’t be difficult to make the best selection for your business’s look.

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